“Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” – Maya Angelou
Grace Manley is quite simply a breath of fresh air! She stands out in the most delightful way. Not only does she have a warm and amazing personality but she possesses this quiet strength that just captivates you! A Sierra Leonean, single mother and a student, she is not afraid to challenge the status quo and pursue what she wants. With one diploma in Business Administration under her belt, she is currently pursuing another in Engineering at the OIC in Lungi.
In this trying times and living in a country which mostly makes it hard for the average woman to burst out and shine, I find her to be such an inspiration! Oh and did I mention? She is a mechanic! One of the first female mechanics in Sierra Leone! A position that is normally referred to as “fitter” in Sierra Leone and is highly dominated by men. How did she come to be in this field? Well, find out more in this motivating interview below:
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am Sierra Leonean. I attended the Vine Memorial School and the Government Secondary School. I worked for the National Electoral Commission before I decided to become a mechanic. I am a single parent to my son Carlton Manley.
2. Why did you choose to become a mechanic? How long have you been in this field?
I have been a freelance mechanic for the past 5-6 years. In this time, my love for the job has greatly increased. I just love doing things with my hands. I was actually inspired by a lady who used to drive a tractor in Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, she has passed away now. I decided to pour my heart into the field and I have chosen to remain committed to always learning. I also wanted to change the perception that Sierra Leoneans have that certain jobs are not meant for women. I am a strong believer that woman can do whatever men do and even do it better. So in spite of the humiliation and embarrassment I have suffered since becoming a mechanic, I have decided to stick to it.
3. What has your experience been like working in a field heavily dominated by men?
I am not going to lie. It is not easy. You really have to be strong and just keep your eyes on the price. There are so many challenges I face but I depend on God to see me through and my love for the job helps me persevere.
4. What is a typical work day like for you?
It depends! But usually, if there is a car to work on, I first need to get details about the car, diagnose problems, build the gear box and do any other tasks required of me by my boss.
5. What are some of the challenges you face working in this field?
There are no instruments in place to carry heavy objects. Thus, I rely on the men I work with to carry weighty appliances for me. I also have to deal with a corrupt system in which you are constantly taken advantage of.
6. What is your advice for young girls and ladies out there?
Pursue the career you desire. And do not ever give up! Also, do not let monetary gain be your primary focus. Do something you love. And do something with the hands God has given you and He will bless it. Chase what you do with all with your heart. You never know what will come out of it. God will help you survive through the trials and temptations if you remain dedicated, determined and self motivated. You are the future and you should have something to lay down for your future generations.
7. What are your future career aspirations?
I would love to one day buy a piece of land to enable me open an institution to do two things. I desire to train girls to become mechanics. One day, I want to own a taxi company, train and employ women to operate these taxis.
8. What are your contact details?
You can reach me at +232- 78- 570-888 or +232-77-961-559.
Remember, be sincerely you!