Bricklaying is still seen as a job for men in most parts of Cameroon, but one woman, Fanné Asta is going against the odds.
In her forties, Fanné Asta who is a mother of 3 children lives in the Walia locality in the Logone and Chari Division, along Cameroon’s border with Chad.
In what remains mainly a male-dominated system, Fanné Asta has taken up the task of bricklaying to be able to fend for herself and her family.
“I am a widow and I have 3 children and my mother who lives with us does not go out anymore coz she is really old,” says Fanné.
Taking up the job, she explained, was because of the need to feed her family.
“I want my children to grow up without relying on the support of others. Sometimes you can count on someone but in the long run they can abandon you on the way and so for the moment, I take care of my family with the little I can earn,” she notes.
“When I came to buy the bricks, I was surprised to see a woman ‘fighting’ among all these men to feed her family. Never have I seen such a brave and combative woman before,” remarked a local buyer.
For three years today, she leaves her home as early as 6:00AM to fetch water and get her kids ready for school before heading for work.
Fanné, a local chief remarked, “… is the only woman among these men who does a hard job to feed her family. How many men are healthy and go begging? I believe this deserves our encouragement”.
The job, however, is not necessarily a bed of roses. On an average day, she produces 100 to 150 bricks, with one selling at 75FCFA.
Being a parent, Fanné revealed that she spends Sundays and Saturdays at home to rest as well as take care of her family.
Lending helping hand
When Fanné is not working or spending time with her family, she is engaging in activism and capacity building.
She often spends time with other widowed women, sharing experiences and encouraging them to deal with the challenges widowhood brings.
She also encourages them to seek work and claim financial independence as much as they can.