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In Nigeria, Lady Mechanic Initiative Trains Women For ‘The Best Job’

The young women training to be mechanics at Nigeria’s Lady Mechanic Initiative wear navy overalls and work boots and their hair is tucked under customized red caps as they repair vehicles in a garage. Customers come and go, dropping off and collecting their cars. Trainee Enogie Osagie says she faced great resistance at home when she started.

“At first, they were really angry. They didn’t want me to go for it,” says Osagie. “My mum wasn’t happy with it. She just went on crying, ‘Why do you want to be a mechanic? The risk is too much.’ I was like, ‘Don’t worry, this is what I want. I’m like a tomboy. I have a flair for cars.’ ”

Olumide Okesola, a senior male mechanic at the garage, is one of their trainers.

“In my life, I never work with ladies like this. I can see that they have it in mind that they want to become a somebody in life. They have the determination that ‘one day I will get there,'” Okesola says. “Before you know it, you will see lady mechanic here, lady mechanic here, lady mechanic here.”

In the cramped office at her workshop, surrounded by car parts, awards and framed photographs with VIPs, sits the founder of the Lady Mechanic Initiative, Sandra Aguebor-Ekperuoh.

She is a classic, driven multitasker. While giving instructions to a trainee mechanic about fixing a car’s air conditioning, Aguebor-Ekperuoh responds to phone calls as she fields questions from this journalist as well as from her 2-year-old son, one of her six children. He has just popped in from nursery school.

Aguebor-Ekperuoh says juggling her many jobs and hats is all down to “strategy.”

“I have strategy for everything I do,” she says. “You have to plan and have strategies for what you want to do in life.”

She struggled to open her first automobile workshop, which she describes as a makeshift construction, in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial capital and largest city, back in 1995.

Read more: NPR

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