Being the third of four children, Irene explains, “at that age, I had many dreams, one of them, to become a very rich lady through motor vehicle engineering and help my family out of poverty because I have grown to see their struggle for even a daily meal. On getting pregnant unexpectedly, all seemed to end. But many community back bites, colleagues’ jeers and isolation, were my blessings in disguise - I was revitalised to recover the dreams’ trail,” Irene narrates.
In her endeavours to fulfil her dream, she always talked about it, and this eventually attracted the attention of her aunt who offered her support and encouraged her to take a First Aid and Nursing Aid course at Red Cross for six months. On completion, there were still no job opportunities and life remained as before – at home, dependent on her unemployed mother’s pocket money.
But on hearing there was a Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) project starting in Kisarawe, she dashed for the opportunity and luckily enough was one of the few admitted and was enrolled in a much longed for professional motor vehicle mechanics course – a profession deemed to be very masculine in Tanzania. She was in fact the only girl in Kisarawe who joined the course in the first batch, facing much criticism.
Irene is now a motor vehicle mechanic at Kisarawe District council garage, in coastal Region, the only female mechanic in the district, an exception to the economic, social and cultural norms of the area. Irene says she is now very comfortable and on track to achieving her long cherished dream. “I am extremely thrilled by the job. Although I was undermined and criticised by many for my choice of course, I do my work carefully and diligently, many vehicle owners come to see how I work, they appreciate it and everyone wishes that I become his/her mechanic, but because I am working in the government garage, that is not possible at the moment” she articulates.
Irene, now a mother to a five-year-old, focuses on making savings, though their Youth Savings and Loan Association (YSLA), takes care of her mother and the child’s education. She invests her savings in her profession and hopes to eventually become one of the best mechanics in and outside Kisarawe district.
She concludes by expressing gratitude to Plan International and its implementing associates for helping the marginalised youth in the country, including herself, to access what they were missing because of their family backgrounds. “I don’t have anything to say concerning this support given. Plan is like our parent now, personally, I will never betray it; I call upon my fellow beneficiaries to do the same. The EU being one of Plan International’s primary institutional donors, supports the empowerment of disadvantaged youth and women, socially and economically, by investing in creating job opportunities to promote stability and sustainable development.