Grace Warwinu Wanjeri

Trade: Carpentry and Joinery

Cohort 6

A journey of empowerment: From Onion Seller to Carpenter

“Prior to joining Buildher’s training program, I was a business lady where I used to sell onions in the market so as to earn a living. In a day, I would earn an utmost of Ksh 300 which was less compared to my daily expenditure. I am a single parent with 1 child so I found life to be unbearable since my demands exceeded my daily income.

This made me end up in debt and also depending on my relatives for survival.

I knew Buildher through a friend who was also a trainee from a previous cohort. From the discussion I had with her, I was interested in joining the training program and she advised me to apply for the August 2021 intake which by then was ongoing. I applied for the program, got interviewed and luckily in September 2021, I joined the Carpentry and Joinery training program. I was trained for 4-months at the workshop where I gained both the technical and soft skills and later while training for the 8-months, I sat for NITA grade 3 examination.

During the 4-months workshop training, I faced challenges such as lack of transport, where my child would stay after coming from school and also where to get food.

Fortunately, through the training, I managed to gain skills such as planning and time management. I would wake up early, prepare and take my child to school then attend the training. While training, I made sure I finished my practicals on time so that I would go and pick my child from school. On the lack of transport issue, through Buildher, I would receive a welfare package of Ksh 1,000 per week which facilitated my transport and at times food.

After the 4-months training, I first worked in a construction site where I was making roofs, I used to earn Ksh 700 per day. Being the only female in the site, I faced the challenge of interacting with my colleagues who were men, the fear of working on heights. With time, I managed to work with men since I learnt the importance of setting boundaries and how to communicate with the opposite sex. On working on heights, as I practiced more on climbing and working at high levels, I stopped having the fright.

The best thing in carpentry and joinery is that it’s wide and you can specialize in different areas. My future aspiration is to work in cabinetry as an independent

contractor where I can get contracts and orders myself. My goal is to be a trainer in the future where I would share my expertise with both men and women.