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KENYA: Woman shares experience as plumber

Don Bosco school trains women in male-dominated fields

(MissionNewswire) With education from the Don Bosco Boys Training Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, Lucy Muchemi has become an accomplished plumber. An article in The Standard highlights her work in a male-dominated field and her educational path to get there.

The Standard noted, “Her trajectory from an office assistant to a successful entrepreneur who has established a thriving plumbing business underscores the transformative influence of vocational education, mentorship and unwavering perseverance.”

According to the article, Muchemi initially wanted to be a civil engineer. In 2001, she enrolled at Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology but underestimated the course. “I never fully understood what the course was all about,” Muchemi told The Standard. “I was the only woman in a class of about 20 students. Of course, I struggled and failed in several assessment tests.”

She then started her plumbing training at the Don Bosco Boys Training Institute with coursework as well as hands-on training. Muchemi was so interested in the subject that she read more and more away from classes and spoke to people in the field. She received her diploma in 2003.

At the Don Bosco Boys Training Institute, students undergo training as well as mentorship. Apprentices are certified as professionals in the trade by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA). There are currently two class groups enrolled in the two-year program with one scheduled to graduate in November 2024.

After working for a few companies and trying to open her own business, Muchemi succeeded in opening Mavens Plumbers in 2017 while still under employment at another firm. In the article, Muchemi explained, “I was so good at plumbing that the employer was hesitant to let me go, even offering me some space in the firm to set up my private business.” She balanced the two until 2020 when she chose to work with her business full-time.

In addition, Muchemi is a mentor to empower individuals to excel in trades such as plumbing and electrical work, according to the article. In this role, Muchemi ensures that the plumbing curriculum in the country’s vocational schools aligns with current industry demands.

Being a woman in the field has not been easy. Muchemi is met by men who do not want to work with her and others who think plumbing is an odd profession for a woman.

In the article, Muchemi said, “I have done ground and home piping. I have installed facilities on the walls. I have fixed toilets. I can hold my own in meetings with experts in the construction industry. Unfortunately, some still hold me in contempt because I am just a plumber and a woman at that. That mindset must change.”

Don Bosco schools help empower women like Muchemi to ensure they have the skills needed for self-sufficiency and long-term employment even in traditionally male-dominated technical fields.

According to the World Bank, more than 7.8 million people in Kenya are living in extreme poverty, with the majority in rural areas. There are approximately 6.6 million people living on less than $1.90 a day in rural regions, while 1.1 million extremely poor people live in urban areas. Overall, the poverty incidence declined in recent years, but at a lower rate in urban areas than rural ones.



The Standard – Lucy Muchemi: What plumbing has taught me about resilience

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World Bank – Kenya

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