Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are reaching out to women, giving them an opportunity for “a viable and empowering career path” in an initiative being realized at Don Bosco Technical School in the country’s Bukavu Archdiocese.
In a report published Thursday, January 19, SDB officials speak about the vocational training offered at the school benefitting young men and women.
While many women do not take courses traditionally reserved for men, SDB officials say, “Some women see these courses as a way to a viable and empowering career path.”
They make reference to a 20-year-old lady, Blandine, who is the only woman in her mason course.
“Blandine is the eldest of seven siblings, and although she always dreamed of studying English and becoming an interpreter, her family’s financial situation and the responsibility of taking care of her siblings prevented her from doing so,” SDB members say.
They add, “When she was told that she could learn a trade at Don Bosco Technical School, Blandine didn’t hesitate. She decided to become a bricklayer and was the only woman in her class to try.”
Thanks to her education, SDB officials say, “She now has a steady job, helps her family and can pay for her younger siblings’ schooling.”
“Not all girls have to be seamstresses and not all boys have to be mechanics or welders,” Blandine has been quoted as saying in the January 19 report.
She adds, “I was always interested in how to build walls and buildings, and since there is a lot of construction going on in Bukavu right now, I thought it would be a good future for me and that I would be good at it.”
In the report, SDB officials say, “Blandine set a goal and took all the exams, participating in the practical training along with her male classmates.”
“She obtained her professional certificate and will always be grateful for the theoretical, practical, and religious education she received from the Salesians,” they further say, adding that after finishing her studies, Blandine “got her first contract.”
“In these two years, I have worked at five construction sites and have always been complimented on my work. I never lacked employment,” Blandine says in the report in reference to her professional experience.
She continues, “Thanks to a stable and professional job, I have money for my expenses, to save and to help at home. Now I can pay my younger siblings’ school fees, and we are planning to expand our house as well.”
Blandine encourages other young women to follow in her footsteps, saying, “I advise girls to learn manual jobs that are thought to be reserved only for boys, because of course we are just as capable.”
“This is the best way to ensure that we are not taken advantage of, that we don’t marry too young, and that our rights are clear,” Blandine says in the January 19 report.