As an old saying goes, “dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you give to others”, only few follow their heart and give full dedication to something they love. We keep working hard in order to create a better version of what we do and share our experiences with others so our profession would be transferred for generations. ‘Mamma Meriem’ got her prefix from the many students that she treats as children of her own.
In today’s Q&A, we present to you a talented and dedicated Eritrean woman who has been in the designing vocation for almost all of her life. She has been in the profession while teaching for the past 53 years. Mamma Meriem Omer is an inspiration for many, a living example of dedicating one’s life for something cherished.
- -It’s a pleasure to have you with us!
WELAHI… the pleasure is all mine. Thank God that I am well and could share my experience with you today. It really does mean a lot.
- -Something about you
My name is Meriem Omer Tahr Nahari. But that is just a name my parents gave me, I am known by ‘Mamma Meriem’. Honestly speaking, that is the name I love dearly. I was born in Massawa in 1956 and was raised in Asmara. I am a designer of different handicraft works starting from designing clothes, house decorations, and carpets.
- -Stimulations for your profession
First and for most, this all comes from my family, basically my mother; she was a very passionate and talented designer. I grew up watching her and other members of the family do the handicraft works and ever since it all became everything I know best how to do and care of.
Nevertheless, if one has the gift of art, then that is all to be thinking of. Art needs the investment of the mind, heart and soul to be alive. Being an artist is a great gift, yet, you have to work on it continuously. So in my case, art has become my profession, but also the highlight of my life.
- -When did you start exactly?
My journey goes back to when I was just a little child in 1963. Ironically, I still remember the date, it was Monday 19th September 1963. Back then I was in school and I took academic education in the morning shifts followed by handicraft lessons in the afternoon. I still remember my teachers as if it was just yesterday: my teachers Mrs. Hadas, Mrs. Saba and Mrs. Genet, are lively memories to this day! I don’t know if they are still alive or not but they were the greatest teachers I ever knew. Whatever I learned outside of my mother’s watch, was probably taught to me by these three women.
- -What kind of works do you do?
I design and make different handicraft designs, like I told you before. There are different kinds: the carpet designs, shek shek designs, bed cover designs, blankets, etc… all hand made.
- -You are also a teacher
It is not like I officially opened a class and registered students. But yes, I have taught many student at my house. I started teaching students a long time ago, I don’t make my students pay much, it is almost free; if they can pay they do, but if they are not able to pay and need my help , then I am willing at all times.
My principal wish in teaching is to enable others have some skills as to lead their lives. I feel pleasure in seeing others succeed. Simple because I know and believe that if you have skills and talent you can your life with confidence. I really do feel bad for people who just sits down doing nothing wasting their time. Having a handy skill like mine is not anything to be taken for granted; it allows you to work where ever you go and where ever you are.
- -Do you think this experience have changed your life and that of your students?
Definitely yes! If nothing else, it has changed my life for the better. As for my students, they are able to work with what they have learned, and like I said before; you are never a looser if you own some skills to work with. But honestly, I did see my student’s lives improve.
All the same, skills without good will and hard work is futile.
- -How many students so far?
I really can’t say a definite number, but boldly over a thousand students in the 53 years of my experience.
- -At the 2016 Festival
Wow…what an amazing event. It was the first time for me to participate at the National Festival, and I am glad I did: I wanted to do it for a long time. It is a great pleasure to introduce my products to the people: people liked my work and asked a lot of questions on how I make them and what I make them of. It was a late opportunity of my life to share my talents and experiences with a lot of people. As during the festival the country unites in one ground, it was a blessing for me to be a part of it this year.
- -When are you the happiest?
When I see someone I taught get successful in life. I love my profession like child of my own. Same goes for my students. It is my pride and joy to see them get successful.
- -Clothing remarks
I would like to remind the young generations to be time conscious, to be educated and dedicated to their field of professions. Human beings don’t have ‘forever’, which is why I keep telling the youth that now is the time to manifest their ability and talents.
“My dear children, experiences are something that you can depend your future on. Life is not an easy path, you need to be patient and work hard to survive it.”
This is the right time for the younger generations to learn how to be productive, patient and disciplined to have a good life.
- -Thank you so much Mamma Meriem.