Regaining her dignity
Most of the time, we think about the benefits of vocational training in terms of the monetary rewards when employed. But sometimes, the rewards reaped from going through vocational training go beyond the money and the job. Sometimes, the respect that one earns in society just by owning that vocational training qualification is enough to make someone walk tall and proud. And the high self-esteem that accompanies that confidence tells it all that vocational education is not just about the money. It is so much more.
And so much more is what Sella got when she trained in bricklaying in our Vocational Training Programme. Her story is worth telling. Unlike other young men and women who join vocational training as a last resort, Sella’s interest in learning such skills started way back when she was still in secondary school. Her interest in vocational education was sparked when she met a female mason during a school trip.
Sella comes from a society where it is almost a miracle to find a woman in the vocational industry. Sella actually grew up believing what society assumed – that women and vocational training tantamount taboo. But meeting that female bricklayer changed the dynamics for Sella and she suddenly realized how wrong she had been all along. She made it her mission to follow the path of that female mason.
That mission stuck in her brain like wood to glue and she was determined to complete that mission at all costs. When she sat for her secondary school national examinations in 2019, Sella obtained very good grades that could have earned her a place in a public college but that was not her plan. Instead, as soon as she completed her secondary school, Sella earned a place in the 2019 Bricklaying cohort of our vocational training programme.
Her excitement was untold.
“This was my dream coming true,” she explained, adding “I was ready to show the world and my village that a girl can do it too.” Sella wanted to be the best bricklayer and she made all efforts to become better. To sharpen her skills, she joined a team of experienced bricklayers who worked in a neighboring village.
Luck was on her side because a few weeks after completing her training, Sella got a job at a New Beginnings, a small technical college in the city. What Sella really liked about her new job is that it involves teaching single mothers. Sella said she loves it because she gets to be a role model to the fellow women.
“My presence at the school is enough motivation to the other women. I am like a living witness of gender equity in the vocational industry.” She proudly said. “It is encouraging to see women being inspired by my story and rising up to become like me.”
Her job, she further said, gives her a new sense of self-esteem. Sella comes from a poor background. Both her parents died years ago and Sella and her four siblings took care of themselves with almost no support from her close relatives. In a situation like that, the usual responsibility of taking care of the family falls in the hands of the eldest male sibling. But that is not the norm in Sella’s case.
Sella is the one who is supporting the family’s basic needs and she feels absolutely proud of that. She has the best of both worlds – she earns an income from her job with New Beginnings and she also helped her family to regain its self-esteem. It was a family that used to struggle but now because of Sella, the family can ably put food on the table.
Besides proudly shouldering the task of keeping the family financially afloat, Sella is also a happy young woman because, on a personal level, she can afford her essential needs. And as a woman, those needs are many.
“What I really wanted was to be a woman who can take care of my own needs. I can proudly say that, now, I am that woman.” Sella ended.