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Photos: This mechanic is an Iron lady

14 February 2012, 11:38 Bernard Gitau

A woman mechanic displays the strength of a woman.

Mechanics as a course is widely perceived as man’s job by many, but Sarah Wandai, who is in her 40’s and a mother of one does it passionately, regardless of working in a field that has been dominated by males for decades.
A humble and respectful woman described by her clients and fellow mechanics, narrates that it has been a difficult 10 years as a mechanic, trying to balance household’s duties and a career.

Sarah said that as time went by, she got used to it, waking up at 5.00 AM in the morning to prepare breakfast and her child ready to go to school and for her to get ample time to arrive at her working place.
Sarah who is working at a mechanic site located at White House area few metres away from Nakuru-Nairobi highway, had early undertook a Business Education course at a Mombasa college where she also learnt Germany after completing her form six classes in 1990.

Sarah Wandai, car, mechanic
Sarah's passion

Sarah did not complete the business course due to her passion for mechanics as she opted to drop out halfway without notifying her parents, fearing their wrath.
At that time she used to visit a mechanic site in Mombasa where she would repair tyres and at the end of the day she would be given KES 20.
She said she was not letting anything to chances but only to take heart and report at the same station to learn more.
One day Sarah decided to tell her parents about her decision to change the cause regardless of her parents stand but she could not allow seeing the school fees going into waste as she was no longer attending the classes.
“Sarah, are you crazy? Don’t you know that is the job reserved for men who are masculine?” Sarah recalls the word uttered by her late mother showing her dejection of the action she was taking.
Friends turned away from her as most of them were not amused with her career choice.
“Most of my friends would ridicule me, especially the women who said I will be smearing my self oil and grease instead of being well perfumed and also risking not getting a man to marry due to my job.”

Sarah Wandai, car, mechanic
It took time for Sarah's parents to accept the decision but Sarah was passionate and determined to prove them wrong by venturing into that field dominated by men.


Sarah salutes one lady whom she met at CMC Motors in Mombasa working as a mechanic. The woman challenged her to an extent of her swearing to drop what she was doing to venture into the field.
“I have worked in this jua kali sector for the last 10 years and achieving more than those men I was told the job was destined for them. I have set my point home to those who criticized me.”
Sarah says some of the men she works with call her for help and this instills in her a sense of pride making her eager to learn and venture more in the field.
Sarah flashes back on where she has come from and her achievements, thanking God that she is not depending on any individual for help as many of her peers who were laughing and criticizing her for the bold step she took, are now living miserable lives.
Sarah is taking care of her one brother and sister, educating them together with her own and she can afford a decent meal for the family regardless of the hardship the country is experiencing.
She has also the bargaining power to her clients who have become loyal customers due to her good work.
Obstacles in her career path were there as at first the male bosses and clients would underrate her, and assign her light jobs at first but later they understood each other and now she performs every repair for any vehicle whether a lorry, tractor ,matatu or personal cars on her own.

Sarah Wandai, car, mechanic
Although Sarah adds that some of the clients will give you the job and after completion will give some excuses promising to pay later of which they do not.
Paul Mwangi is a happy man as he describes Sarah as passionate, results oriented and hard working woman who will not let anything or anybody block her in achieving the goals she has set.
“Sarah is not choosy, she works on any kind of vehicle be it small or big. I like her for her attitude and I urge our women not to be selective if they want to rescue themselves from the bondage of poverty and men’s superiority complex” said Mwangi who is a colleague to Sarah.
Joseph Wangonyo was very eager to comment about Sarah who has repaired his car for almost a decade since he met her.
“I knew Sarah in 2000 while she was repairing my uncle’s vehicle and after studying what she did I was impressed with it because she did it excellently and from then I became her client and no single moment has she tried to be unfaithful.”

Sarah Wandai, car, mechanic
Wangonyo added that Sarah does not overcharge nor disrespect her clients but treats them respectfully regardless of age and their titles.
Sarah is one happy woman as she has managed to sail through a field dominated by men and has been able to earn a living and set good examples for parents who condemn their children due to the careers chosen against their will.
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