Mrs. Zaid Tesfamariam is one of the many Eritrean women who believe and respect the value of equality. Not only does she believe any woman can do whatever she dreams of but she works hard to be a proof that she can do anything independently. Coming from a low income family, Mrs. Zaid has always dreamed of having a career that helps her make a living. After working as a cashier in a bus for quite some time, Zaid decided that she wanted to take her career to the next level and became one of the few female Eritrean bus drivers.
- Working as a Bus cashier, how did you get the job?
After I got released from the service, I immediately moved to Asmara from my village to look for a job. It took me over two years to get a job. I couldn’t just sit down. I did everything in my power that could help me have a career in my life. I took hand-craft courses that were given by the National Union of Eritrean Women and I also took typing lessons.
After a while, there opened up a job opportunity for a bus cashier. The opportunity was given to veteran freedom fighters, which was a problem for me since I went to the field in 1991. But I didn’t want to give up. Luckily, the manager told the guy who was giving the exam to let me do the exam and that he would see what to do if I passed the test. Fortunately, I passed the exam with a full score of 100 and that is how I got to become the bus cashier.
- Working as a bus cashier could be challenging for most people. How did you handle it?
It all depends on how you handle situations. As a matter of fact the job connects you with many people from all kinds of places and walks of life, which could make it hard as every person’s attitude differs. But if you do your job in the right way and serve the people with a good heart, I really don’t think that there could be problems. Also, working as a cashier is what inspired me to become a bus driver. I have always wanted to drive a bus and serve the people one day. And for that reason, I was deeply interested in the way the bus drivers drove the bus, where the bus stopped and how it went around the town and how the drivers shifted the gears. After working as a cashier for four years, an opportunity opened up for only 20 people to get a driving lesson.
I went and convinced my manager to add up three more people as a backup. I was one of the backups and finished the lesson. I was eight months pregnant while I was taking the driving lesson and celebrated my baby’s baptism on my graduation. It gave me a great pleasure.
For the first three years I drove a minibus that could hold 15 people. After that I worked for the Central region office Administration and Ministry for almost five years. People really did support me and motivated me to upgrade my skills and always advised me to drive a bus. After a while I agreed with their ideas and decided to try to get my 4th level driving lessons which would allow me to drive bigger buses.
- Being one of the few female bus drivers, what are the challenges that come on your way?
I really do love my job. To have a career that would serve a community. And that is what I do. I drive everyone from work to home and home to work. I meet a lot of people who actually become my friends. And about the challenges, I don’t think that we face many of them. Society supports us and motivates us to work harder. If I come across any kind of problem with the car, I get help immediately from anyone everywhere. But, of course, there are people who just think that this is the kind of job for men only, which is wrong. I fell like females are more responsible when it comes to driving and taking care of a car, to be honest. I have been driving for 18 years and I haven’t had an accident. Being a driver of a public bus makes you very responsible and careful.
- Is there anything you would like to add at last?
Yes. I would like to say to every Eritrean girl, lady, and women ‘You can do it all’. Just have the will and passion for it and you can do whatever you put your mind and heart to.