Hope Salama-Ngulube had a dream- to pursue uniqueness. She nurtured that dream up until she settled for marine engineering. This, according to her, was what she believed would set her apart. Hope shares her experiences, challenges and the joys of living her dreams in this interview with Brenda Twea.
At one point in everyone’s life, there are dreams dreams of getting better at something, travelling the world, getting married or owning a house.
However, it is not every hope or dream that comes to pass. It is common belief that dreams only come true if one has the passion to pursue them.
Hope Salama-Ngulube, 30, is one of those people who dreamed, pursued it and is now living the dream.
Born on 22 March at Zomba District Hospital, the last born of five children always dreamed about going into a unique profession.
It was after completing her secondary school studies at Kaphuka Secondary School in Blantyre that she finally chose the specific profession to undertake.
Hope missed the chance to sit the university entrance examinations due to certain problems. Her only option was to look for a course suiting her needs.
After a rigorous search through newspapers, she came across Marine Engineering. That turned out to be just the profession she was looking for.
“When I came across an advert by the Malawi Marine Training College, I researched on the courses that the college offered and my choice rested on the marine engineering course. I fell in love with marine engineering right from the start,” says Hope.
Malawi’s Marine Training College is a government institution under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works which offers two advance diploma programmes namely Marine Navigation and Marine Engineering.
Hope currently works with Maldeco Fisheries, a subsidiary of Malawi’s dual-listed conglomerate Press Corporation Limited, ensuring that the company’s fishing vessels are good to sail on the Lake Malawi waters.
“As marine engineer, I make sure that all machines, including electrical machinery are in good condition. It is also my duty to get the vessel ready for sailing and when there is a problem, I have to work on it in good time,” she explains.
She admits that being a female marine engineer is a challenge, but she likes it regardless.
“It is not an easy job, but it always gives me piece of mind when my vessel is in good condition all the time. In addition, I do preventive maintenance to prevent breakdowns and I like that,” she explains.
However, she admits that it is not always rosy working in a field dominated by men.
Hope says there is always the element of being looked down upon.
“I am always reminded that this job is meant for men. But, I am here to show them that women can also do it and we are doing it,” she says.
To be admitted into the course, candidates are required to possess a full Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) with six credits including Mathematics, Physical Science and Geography.
Hope encourages more girls to join the marine engineering profession.
“It is simple to become a marine engineer if they work hard in subjects such as Mathematics, Geography, English and Physical Science. Opportunities are many because there are very few women in this profession. Let us show men that we too can do it,” she advises.
As a mother, she confesses that it sometimes gets difficult to juggle between work and family, but says it is manageable.
“I work four days in a week and get another four days off, so, there is no such thing as a weekend for me. As such, I make sure that every time I am off duty, I take care of my family.
“However, even while on duty, I see to it that when I get home in the evening, I make time for my family,” Hope says.
During her free time, the mother to seven-year-old Joan likes hanging out with her friends, watching inspirational movies, learning new things and playing netball.
Every day she looks forward to going to work because it gives her the chance to do something challenging.
“Because it is challenging, it requires me to think fast and make decisions right on board the vessel. And I like that,” she says.
The marine engineer comes from Thyolo, but she grew up in Sadzi Village in Zomba.
Her father, who passed away in 1997, worked as an electrician at the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC). Her mother on the other hand died in 2002 and following the death of both parents, she lived with her relatives.
The Marine Training College is located in Monkey Bay, Mangochi.
Students at the college go through three years of comprehensive studies in class training, after which they undergo one year long sea-phase training.
As a way of maintaining standards, the college enrolls only once in every four years and its last intake was in January 2016.
The next will, tentatively, be in January 2019, according to officials at the college.