DR CONGO: Young woman thrives as mason
Technical trade courses provide an empowering career path for women
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Technical School, located in the city of Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo*, provides education to both young men and women. While many women do not take courses traditionally reserved for men, some women see these courses as a way to a viable and empowering career path. For example, Blandine, age 20, was the only woman in her mason course.
Blandine is the eldest of seven siblings, and although she always dreamed of studying English and becoming an interpreter, her family’s financial situation and the responsibility of taking care of her siblings prevented her from doing so. When she was told that she could learn a trade at Don Bosco Technical School, Blandine didn’t hesitate. She decided to become a bricklayer and was the only woman in her class to try. Thanks to her education, she now has a steady job, helps her family and can pay for her younger siblings’ schooling.
Blandine explained, “Not all girls have to be seamstresses and not all boys have to be mechanics or welders. I was always interested in how to build walls and buildings, and since there is a lot of construction going on in Bukavu right now, I thought it would be a good future for me and that I would be good at it.”
Blandine set a goal and took all the exams, participating in the practical training along with her male classmates. She obtained her professional certificate and will always be grateful for the theoretical, practical, and religious education she received from the Salesians.
After finishing her studies, Blandine got her first contract. “In these two years, I have worked at five construction sites and have always been complimented on my work. I never lacked employment. Thanks to a stable and professional job, I have money for my expenses, to save and to help at home. Now I can pay my younger siblings’ school fees, and we are planning to expand our house as well.”
Blandine encourages other young women to follow in her footsteps if they are interested in the profession. “I advise girls to learn manual jobs that are thought to be reserved only for boys, because of course we are just as capable. This is the best way to ensure that we are not taken advantage of, that we don’t marry too young, and that our rights are clear.”
Despite its vast material wealth, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line living on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. Because of ongoing strife and violence within the country, more than 8.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNICEF – DR Congo
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.