Basseterre, St. Kitts — She had everything good going for her, working as an assistant supervisor at an offshore company. She showed the tenacity that is the hallmark of the Federation’s youth when she became a house owner.
But sometimes good things do not last for long. Ms Alicia Daniel, who is a single mother, received a minor setback when the company she worked for closed down. It was rather hard to take because her house at Taylor’s did not have the tiles she wanted. With no job she did not know what to do.
She is not one to put down easily. She worked briefly at Church’s Chicken and later at Sweet Cane Restaurant. Things looked up for her when the People Employment Programme (PEP) was launched because she felt that it would address her needs when she learnt that it had a component known as Women in Construction Trades (WICT).
According to WICT Project Co-ordinator, Mrs Celia Christopher, “Women in Construction Trades is a programme which seeks to increase employment opportunities for women in male dominated fields, who often due to the demands of their primary roles as caregivers, are unable to develop the skills required to engage in meaningful income earning capacities.”
Alicia Daniel was one of the first women to join the Women in Construction Trades programme. While the majority are based at All Solutions International at C.A. Paul Southwell Industrial Site, Ms Daniel was sent to a company in the country, where she has to commute every morning.
“I have my own house and I just wanted to learn how to put down tiles,” said Alicia as she explained why she was working at Stone Deals, a typical man-only company based at Bourryeau that makes concrete products. “When I applied to join PEP, I was in May sent over here at Stone Deals.”
Since she has been at Stone Deals, where she was in a group that also included six male PEP interns, Ms Daniel says that she has leant more than just laying tiles. She has learnt how to make different types of decorative concrete products, the different types of stone tiles something she admits that she had never seen before.
She talked of the many different types of tiles, not just the house tiles, but also pathway and road tiles, railings for landings at home, concrete benches and tables. She was even given a chance to have a hands-on experience when the group was sent to a church in Middle Island.
“I am having the experience of not just seeing them (products), but also of making them,” remarked Alicia. “It is good to learn a little something. You may not want to do it for as your future, but at least you have an idea you could do it for yourself. Instead of having to call somebody to do it you have an idea, you could do it.”
Until last week, Alicia was the only female in the PEP team working at Stone Deals and in an earlier interview she said that she did not feel lonely working among the men whom she described as being friendly. However, since Monday last week she received welcome company in the form of two females, Ms Florencetine Morton and Ms Deborah Hanley, sent under the Women in Construction Trades programme.
“PEP is teaching me a rounded approach to life,” said Alicia. “Every time you go to construction sites you see all men but to see a woman, who knows, we might be doing a better job. Women could build houses instead of contacting a man to build a house you get a woman to do that.
“Only men you find would do those things here in St. Kitts. If you go outside you will find women doing all those kinds of things, electrician, plumbing and carpentry. It would be good if they would actually teach women to do all those other things. You can be well rounded to do the house and still do the finishing.”
According to the WICT facilitator Mr Heston Hamm, who is also the CEO at Stone Deals, the idea of training women to do jobs that are thought to be men’s jobs is important as it eases the burden not only for the men, but also for the women who won’t need to struggle to perform minor repairs in their homes.
“When she came, they said she was there by mistake,” said Mr Hamm of Alicia’s presence at Stone Deals. “It was something new to her, but it is amazing how she learns and she understands what we are doing here. As a matter of fact she really is one of the best in terms of getting things done properly, as she is very creative and so there is something in her when it comes to concrete. It is really great.”