Woodworking has traditionally been practised by men, with women often discouraged from entering the field, but Jaida Marley (18), a Grade 11 pupil at M&K Gertze High School at Rehoboth, is determined to prove that girls can do even better than boys.
“Unfortunately, it is very common for women to be discouraged or afraid of taking up woodwork,” she says.
She admits that she too was discouraged from taking up the subject by family members and friends, but she never gave up on the opportunity, because of other people’s opinions.
Marley is determined to break barriers to build the type of world girls want to see.
She says one of the biggest challenges she experiences is people accepting the subject she has chosen to study.
“A lot of people were not pleased when I chose the course. They said all kinds of hurtful things like only boys are good at subjects like the ones I chose, and that I wouldn’t make it through the first term.
“Others told me not to try and act like a boy and to just go off and choose something that’s easy for girls. That made me feel bad, it made me doubt myself, but I actually used their comments as stepping stones and decided to prove them wrong. I don’t take what others have to say to heart,” she says.
Over the years, Marley says she has fallen in love with how creative she can be with her hands.
“I find this field very interesting because I get to learn something that’s new to me every day. Working in this industry gives me a feeling of freedom to do whatever I want and to prove that I can do anything. Doing this makes me feel fearless, because I can do things only boys are supposed to do in this industry. I have to always work hard to prove I can be better than them.”
Marley believes it is important to always be determined to learn something at a young age.
“Learning something new can be challenging, so it’s important to learn it at a young age, because it helps you gain a lot of experience and it also boosts your confidence.
“Who knows, I might even inspire more girls to join this industry. No matter how tough things might get, never allow people to just step over you. Always choose what you want and always be yourself,” she says.
For Marley, woodworking is much more than just a subject at school. Over the years, it has given her a sense of confidence and she has started to believe in herself more.
She says she knows she can do anything she sets her mind on.
“Working in this industry has really helped me to be a better version of myself. It helped me to believe more in myself and to be a fearless and dominant young woman at a young age.”
Marley’s advice to others with a similar dream is to never allow others to choose for them.
She says with her new skills and knowledge, she has already started working and earning money.
“I am refurbishing old desks and chairs for the schools in my region. We are a group of six students working for the government on all old desks and chairs that are not in good shape, to make them look good for all the schools in my region. I’m working at my school.
“The money that I get paid goes to my mother to help with household expenses. For me, getting paid is a good feeling, because I get to learn how to handle my money in a responsible way and it’s actually good to help my mom with the expenses around the house,” she says.
Marley grew up in a single parent household and says she never had a father figure in her life.
As the firstborn, she learned to be responsible at a very young age after helping her mother around the house ever since she was a child.
“I love socialising with others. I am an outgoing person that likes taking up new challenges. I am kind, caring and respectful. The only thing I dislike is when people criticise girls and tell them that they can’t do things that boys can do,” she says.
Besides her passion for woodworking, Marley says her dream is to study education and become a teacher. Her motto in life is to do what you love and to love what you do.
Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –