Why I Chose to Become Mechanic – 35 Years Old Mother of 5

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

“My passion was borne out of the fact that in the last few years, donor agencies have been building boreholes in different communities in our wards and Local Government Area, but after few years, these boreholes will collapse and would be abandoned”.

She is one out of the over 264 “Local Area Mechanic (LAM)” trained under the Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN II), project in Kaduna State, to takeover maintenance and repairs of borehole pumps in Kaduna rural communities.

Sylvia Clement, a 35 years old mother of five took over repairs and maintenance of borehole pumps in her Kujama Ward in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, as part of effort to ensure that borehole projects being provided by donor agencies would not just be sustained but properly maintained.

According to her, several boreholes have been sunk in several communities in her LGA, but most of them ended up being abandoned because of lack of maintenance after few year of use and the communities are helpless because they can’t even get a mechanic to fix them even if they have the money to do it.

This she said steered her passion to become a borehole pump repairer so she can be of help to her community and other surrounding communities in her Ward and the LGA at large.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and the UK government co-funded SHAWN II project, trained over 264 LAMs in 22 LGAs in the State between 2019 and 2020 as part of their sustainability plan for Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in the state.

Expressing her interest in the program, Mrs. Clement said “I just felt the communities here needed mechanics to be taking care of these projects that people are donating to us.

“Another great inspiration for me was the other woman who is a mechanic too, she actually trained me. She was among the first set trained under this project in 2019 and any time I see her work, my interest grows and she encouraged me to learn it since I was interested so when the opportunity came in July 2020, I quickly joined.

“And as a woman I made up my mind to be part of it, so I indicated my interest to be trained. Though it was not easy because it is seen as men’s job, but I knew I could do it and use it as an opportunity to make impact in my community.

“As a married woman with five kids, it has not been easy with me, I have to be leaving my children at home any time I have a job to do in another community, but thank God my husband is happy seeing me do this.

“He is giving me all the support that I need right from the time I was learning it till now. I even have to abandon my farm through out the one month period I was trained for it.”

She said between August 2020 and March 2021, she has already restored over ten boreholes back to life in different communities within her Ward.

Mrs. Clement, therefore thank UNICEF and RUWASSA for giving her the opportunity to be part of the project, adding “I am now able to support my husband with the proceeds of my work.

For the WASH Committee Secretary in Ugwan Mission community, Mr. Moses Micah, Mrs Clement, is the best thing that has happened to the community because their hand pump borehole no longer have to wait for days any time there is problem.

“This woman is really trying, this is the third time she is fixing this pump. Before any time there is problem like this, we would be looking for RUWASSA people to come and help us, but now in few days, she will just repair it”.

Florence Manshop, Chikun LGA, WASH Coordinator, said the good thing about the two females out of twelve LAMs in the LGA is that they very committed to their work and always ready to learn more.

She noted that though they were trained under the SHAWN, but their work is not limited to SHAWN facilities alone as they also repair boreholes intervention by other donors.

“We have two female LAMs amongst the twelve we have trained in this LGA, they are very active and they have passion for what they do. I see them going to another level because of their experiences and work loads in the facilities they are working on.

“The good thing is that they are well supported by the community members, so whenever they have issues with their boreholes, they reach to them and the always avail themselves to see that those facilities are restored within two to three days and the people can have access to portable water for their usage”. The Coordinator said.

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