Miss Happiness Ozoalor, 23, is the only lady welder in Delta State. She is an indigene of Enugu but was born in 1993 in Aniocha area of Delta State. Our Naij.com correspondent ran into her along the ever busy Onitsha/Benin expressway, opposite the Asaba airport where she has her workshop displayed for would be customers.
Prior to becoming a welder, Miss Ozoalor was working at Caretime, a company producing hair relaxer and air freshener in Asaba. She said her interest in becoming a welder was inspired when she observed some welders living close to where she lived in about five years ago, then she was a teenager. “I went into it because the place I live before was close to some welders’ workshops.
“When I return from Caretime, I used to watch them from my house, at times they will tell me to help them do one thing or the other. There and then I began developing interest in welding. I thereafter told them I want to learn welding. They told me it’s not hard and that I can do it”, she told Naij.com.
Miss Ozoalor, who attended Gateway to Success Secondary School in Ebu, Oshimili North council area of Delta State, learnt the welding for two years between 2012 and 2013 when she completed the training from her master, one Mr. Emeka Isichei.
For her, it was a smooth ride into becoming a welder as she did not pay any money beside meager agreement fee she paid to her master. “My oga didn’t collect much money from me, he only collected agreement fee and he said I should pay anything I can afford because I’m a woman coming to learn a man’s work,” she said.
Against the desire of many parents who would want their female children to go into trades that are feminine in nature, her parents did not discourage her from the trade she has determined to do.
Rather, her parents only warned against eye problem due to the radiation of the welding light, “My parents were only telling me that I hope this thing will not injure me especially my eyes. I told them that it does not disturb me. They didn’t discourage me from learning this welding.
READ ALSO: Kwara, reputed for hospitality
“At times my face will be appearing somehow because of the light but I was not discouraged from continuing the training. I was determined to learn it. I put my mind fully into it and I have learnt the whole thing in welding,” Miss Ozoalor said. Although one of her sisters attempted pulling their mother to stop her, she was resolute to go on with her training.
She told NAIJ.com that she has made up her mind to stick to her career, undermining the financial allurement that may come from anywhere. She said she would not give up her training in the name of getting married to a man who may want to discourage her from her welding career.
According to her, “I’m doing this job before he met me so I won’t leave my work. We will have our agreement before we get married because this is the work I was doing before he came me. This work has been feeding me and so I can’t afford to drop it. This is my handwork, I can’t take his own which I do not have any idea of. No matter where the person comes from I can’t leave my work, we only need to blend.”
Her father died in June 2014 and for that her mother had to relocate to Enugu, their home state, and, being the first child from her mother’s end because her father married three wives, she must put on her thinking cap to make a living for herself and her younger relations. And since 2013 when she completed her training and established herself, she has made a fortune out of welding.
Although, Miss Ozoalor is the only lady in the midst of the men welders in the state, she is comfortable and happy among them. On admission into the welders’ union, she was made the welfare officer of the association.
Her admission into the association was actually out of compulsion. Ordinarily, she was ignorant of the need for admission, only interested in practicing her trade but she has to be a member to practice without hitches. This is because all trades have associations through which they cater for their members.
She told NAIJ.com that members of the association in the state attempted confiscating her welding equipment, unless she joined the association. She thereafter called her trainer who gave her the procedure for enrolment into the association. She said being a woman she was enrolled without paying admission fee. This is another favour she enjoyed for being the only woman in a man’s world.
According to her, the association members have been watching her over a period of time. She said the members informed her that she is doing men’s work and as such there is no difference between her and the men in the welders’ association, hence she must enroll with them and be a member of the union.
For ladies out there who may be involved in prostitution rather than get engaged in profitable ventures, she said such engagements won’t fetch them any success in life. “Selling their bodies will take away their respect from them. A woman can do anything in this world; there is nothing that a man can do that a woman cannot do.
“As far as your mind is on it, you can do it. Running up and down and sleeping with men will not help you. Anything a woman puts her mind to do, she can do it as far as she has interest in it. A woman can climb a tree and do anything. She can climb storey buildings and follow men up just as men do it. No man can do anything better than a woman as far as the woman’s mind is on it.
“The thing is in the mind, not in the physical appearance. They should release their mind and do something reasonable. A woman can do anything that a man can do on mother earth as far as I’m concerned. Prostitution is shameful and disgraceful, no good and decent woman should go into it.
“Because they don’t even know who they are sleeping with, but this work, you know what you are doing, there is no fear in you of what may happen to you. But when you are going to the man, you don’t know whether he has disease that can infect you. So, nobody should encourage such lifestyle. It pays to be hardworking and there is a reward for every labour on earth”, she noted.