In many African families, the older siblings automatically assumes the duties of deputy parenting. The issue of deputy parenting is often as a result of many factors, amongst others, the passing of the head of the family. Such assumption of duties can hinder one academic progress. Often the older ones are forced out of school as they need to provide for the rest of the family. Our story could have been similar if it was not for my brothers who until this day, I believe “welded us out of poverty”
Meet my 34 years old brother who had to assumed his co-parenting duty at the age of 14 when our father passed on. We are a family of 6 siblings, our mother and a few cousins that were depended on our father’s income. At that stage, my mother was a stay at home mom and our eldest brother was only 16. If it was not for the determination of our 2 brothers ( John and Willbard), we would not have been as rich as we are today.
Willbrad Elago started welding straight after secondary school. He did not have much of a choice then as although accepted in tertiary education the financial burden to support John at college and the rest of us in school and at home was too heavy for our mother to afford another child in university. Not wanting him to stay at home, he was enrolled at a vocation school to do a short welding course. What started as a compromise ended up a life time business opportunity.
Since the first day he step in that welding class, my brother has been welding ever since. Although he went on to college the following year to become a qualified teacher, he never stopped welding. He would weld during weekends, during semester breaks and even better when he qualified as a teacher during school holidays. “Welding is a good thing, I enjoy the challange that come with every project. Each job will always be different. The measurements and the dimensions will differ and hence one will always need to improvise to deliver a job that look good in the eyes of the customer” Willbard added
Fast forward to today, years later, he is still welding. I am confident to say that he has become a professional welder who even started his company (G- welding) that is currently operating from Oshakati. At G-welding, they do all sorts of metal work from diamond roofing, to chairs, to brick making machines, basic wood work etc, you name it.
Back to the deputy parenting, it was because of his welding skills that my brother was able to help mum during his time at college. Because he had additional income at colleague from his own work, he did not need to wait for pocket money. This freed up some of mum’s meager income towards sending the rest of us to school as well as feeding the family and the nearby community.
As part of his corporate social responsibility at his company, he works with young welders in order to enable them to help their families too. These are ordinary young boys in the village that never had any formal training and teaches them the basic of metal work and even some of them learn how to drive using his company car.
To the young welder out there this is what he has to say
1. Try to do something good for the customer regardless of the pay. That is how you build your brand by attracting people to your work.
2.Have the basic equipments in place such an grinders,welding machine and extension lead. Overtime, invest in a generator so you can start doing work in remote areas.
3. Lastly, take care of your health. Wear protective clothing,safety glasses and your helmet. If you cut corners, you might be damaging your health in the long run.
Business can be one of the ways we can end generational poverty. What are you doing today?
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