For two years, 29-year old Selma Thomas has been putting her life in danger all for the sake of doing something she loves.
Considered by many as a masculine profession because of the dangers of electricity, Selma says that she would not have had it any other way.
“I am living the dream. I wake up excited every morning to do what I love,” says Selma in a very jolly tone.
Selma is an electrician at Tawana Electrical and Refrigeration and her specialty is house wiring and maintenance, which involves putting in electric wires and installing cables to provide electrical emissions.
She studied electrical engineering at NamWater for three years before venturing into the world of power and electrical shocks.
“When I decided to venture into sciences at school, my dream was to become a doctor but that soon changed when I found out about electrical engineering; I fell in love with the idea and I have never looked back since.”
Getting electrocuted has become a custom, it happens on a daily basis, even though she is now an expert at what she does.
“I get electric shocks all the time but the effect does not hurt anymore. I am so comfortable with my job I can even do it blind-folded,” she boasts.
Most people are usually reluctant to hire her because they are never convinced she is capable of getting the work done the same way it would have been if done by a male expert.
“People are often shocked that I am an electrician and they always think I can’t do a proper job as my male colleagues.”
A very small percentage of Namibian women are brave enough to undertake this profession. There were just five other girls in her class when she undertook her training between 2008 and 2010, she says.
Just the thought of the experience and the knowledge she gets motivates her every day.
“I am really learning a lot at my company, I have been working for just a short time but I have gained a lot of experience. My co-workers have shown me a lot of moral support; they are very patient and understanding with me,” she beams.
Despite her gender, Selma says she is just like one of her male colleagues and they treat her the same.
“My boss asks me to do any job, it does not matter what it is as long as it relates to my field. I climb long ladders fixing electricity on ceilings and it really means a lot to me knowing that I have helped someone get electricity,” she says.
With regard to women and male-dominated professions, Selma encourages women not to be scared to follow their dreams because not a lot of women do that.
“Go to any institution and sign up to study anything you want, whether it is carpentry, mining or whatever; just follow your dream. I love what I do and I hope you find what you love and do it too.”