Clara Machishi

Name: Clara Machishi
Where: Zambia
What she does: Carpenter
Impact: Challenged the stereotype of only male carpenters and earns enough to support her children in school
Nominated by: Wendy Ngoma, One World Action

Through Women for Change in Zambia…

“Clara Machishi is a real success story from the project. She was trained in carpentry and joinery, traditionally male trades. She has established herself as a carpenter in the community and has received many job requests.  She has been hired by the power station to roof residential houses and to roof a local school.  With this opportunity she has been able to earn enough to send her children to school.  From the profits she has purchased solar panels and batteries and started a business charging phones.”

29 year old Clara Machishi is a member of Katelemuna Area Association (AA) based in Kapiri Mposhi/Mkushi one of the Women for Change (WfC) operation areas. She is a single mother of three.

“I was identified to attend the one year training in Mumbwa for Carpentry and Joinery by my area,” says Clara, “I’m sure it was a difficulty decision for them because each AA was only given to choose one youth to go for training. I never thought they would choose me since I’m a female but I guess this shows just how far our communities have reached as a result of the Women for Change gender sensitizations trainings we’ve have been exposed to!”

The class was a combination of youths from Kapiri Mposhi/Mkushi and Mumbwa operation areas. Out of a class of 20, 11 were female.

“What I’ve appreciated about the training is that we were given start-up kits to help us get started in our business. I was unable to continue with my education due to family problems but now through the income I am realizing from the business, I’ve enrolled in school and wrote my junior secondary school leaving exam last year,” boasted Clara.

She hopes to go up to Grade 12 so that she qualifies to enrol in a tertiary institution where she can get a higher certificate in Carpentry.

“With a higher qualification, I can get a job in an industry or even become a lecturer so that I encourage other girls to take up carpentry. For now most look at it as a job that can only be done by men but me and the other girls who did this training have proved people wrong. We’ve have shown them that even girls can do any kind of work and even be better at it!”

Clara says she has been able to get short term contracts with Lusemfwa Hydro-Electric Power Station which is about 5km from her home. She has roofed and put ceiling boards for the new staff houses the company was constructing as well as do other works at the Plant.

“The hallmark of my training was to be able to roof my sister’s house. She didn’t believe that I was really a carpenter but I proved her wrong. She took me all the way to Gwembe in southern province where her home is so that she could watch me do my work!”

Another achievement from the training which the AA has appreciated has been her resilience and commitment to work. For this reason, she was elected chairperson for the youth group in the AA.

“The girl is an inspiration to her fellow youths especially girls who easily get discouraged once they become mothers,” said Alfred Simaye, the WfC Animator for the district, “she has not allowed motherhood to come in the way of achieving her dreams. Last season, she planted 0.5hecters of maize seed which will produce 20-50kg of seed. Also, she is raising her three children alone. This is quite an achievement in her community where most women depend on their husbands or male relatives for their survival. She’s proving that a woman can own and manage her own resources. Her house is a favorite destination for her neighbors because she bought a solar panel. They are taking their phones for charging to her house using solar, but of course they are paying a small amount to get their phones charged! A good way to raise a bit of money, right? The other reason they visit her home is to watch TV for news and entertainment. She has bought a television set, musical system and a mobile phone from the income she raises from her carpentry business.”

Asked what she hopes to do with all the seed, Clara responds without hesitation, “I’ll sale it so that I use the money I’ll realize to pay for my high school education.”

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