These Women Mechanics Are Transforming Health Care in The Gambia These Women Mechanics Are Transforming Health Care in The Gambia
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Riders for Health is looking after the ambulance at Basse health centre in the same way that we looked after Manyo’s motorcycle when she was a rural health worker. Our technicians maintain it every month so it never breaks down and it always works when people need it.
But Manyo’s story isn’t the only one that I want to tell.
Sharing the ride east, following the line of the river that splits the Gambia in two, was a young woman called Louise. Louise is a Riders for Health apprentice as a vehicle technician. She was just starting the second year of her course. Along with five other young women, Louise was learning how to maintain ambulances, trekking vehicles and motorcycles so they never break down.
Louise travelled with us as far as Bansang, where she would start work at Riders workshop in the town. It was clear that Louise was nervous. She is 21, and this was the first time she will have lived away from home. In fact, she had never been more than 10 miles from home. Now, here she was travelling to the other side of the country to share a house with the other technicians.
Louise, along with the five other apprentices, are the most determined group of women. They know that they are training to do something that is seen as a man’s job. Louise is determined to be a successful technician. She told me that she "wanted to show the world that want a man can do, a woman can do." Then I asked her what she would like to be doing in five years time and told she me that she would love to own her own garage. She would like to be her own boss.
Louise’s story is important, not just because she shows that our technicians are playing just as vital a role as any doctor in improving health care in The Gambia, but that by getting the skills she needs and coupling it with drive and ambition, Louise can take control of her own life and be part of the economic development of her country.