It’s not everyday people wake up to such an intriguing story-line.
Marie Eda Mendy is by far above your definition of an average Gambian woman.
Years ago, she like any ambitious person, had intent on getting a degree in the University then graduate to work in what most regard as the class sector -offices – to make a living.
Showing academic brilliance, she finished secondary schooling with marks enough to earn her spot in Gambia’s highest institution of learning -UTG -but would be stifled by funding issues.
Prior to this, she’s been at St Francis Primary, St Martins’ Junior before graduating from St Peter’s Technical Secondary School in Lamin.
Owing TO the economic privation rocking the country, she would take up a job offer as a teacher at Manjai-based Primary School Amazing Grace to make ends meet.
In the interim, she’d applied for a PTC programme. As she awaited an impending interview with school admins for the teaching course she applied for at the Gambia College, luck struck her path.
A friend suggested she tries out with the Residents Banjul Organisation – a set up with an opening to train women at their garage. This did it for her, marking start of a love-affair with repairing damaged cars and vehicles.
“The garage I used to work, they are so happy and proud of me,” she says of a profession dominated by men with hardly any woman involved in it.
Elucidating, she said: “My boss will always wait when people are around: he would be like: “Marie Eda, I want you to go and change the oil filters. Go and change the tyres, go and change the break parts.” So he feels so proud to show to people that a woman can do this job.”
Sexism is rarely addressed and by being the only woman in A field akin with men over here, she, consequently, invites strange stares mostly from passers-by. It’s a different case when fellow women see her donning dirty oval whom she says often poke fun at her over her choice of job.
“So I feel so proud whenever I’m doing the job and people are looking at me because it is something that is not common in Gambia. Many women are not into this job.
“I didn’t face much difficulties in the garage because as the only woman working there, they encouraged me a lot.
One of the problems I had was my fellow women. When they see me in the dirty overall, they look down on me.
“Some of them will even be laughing and will be like “doesn’t she have anything better to do?” or they will say “ Maybe she hasn’t gone or finished schooling that is why she is doing this.” What they say does not matter.
She continued: “I chose mechanic because I love it. I want to be the best in it. For one to be the best in what you do, you have to have the love and affection. Choosing a career is not about the money. If you choose a career because of the money, you might not be the best in it. The passion I have for mechanic is what is important to me and not what my fellow women think about me or laugh at me or whatever they say.”
Many women at her age are often obsessed with trendy mundane activities, net-surfing and posing as slay queens in fanciful skimpy wears flashing protruding derrieres to court attention from the opposite gender.
Ms. Mendy has a word for those in that line of life.
“My advice to my fellow women is, we should try to be independent whether married or single. I believe when a woman is independent no man can abuse you. Every woman out there has a gift. It’s up to us to be able to discover it and work on it. Let’s stand out, let’s have a career and be able to support ourselves, our families and even the men too, we should be able to support them,” she says.
Eda who initially want to bag a degree in law still has ambition of studying but in her field.
“I wanted study law but it wasn’t possible. I Thought for three months at Amazing Grace Primary School. So I didn’t do mechanic anywhere. So now I want to pursue the theory part of it. To be a good mechanic you need to learn both the theory and practical of part of it,” she tells Gambia News.