As I walk in, I see her in her blue uniform, holding the wrench with hands strong enough to pull up heavy motorcycles.
Samira is a 53-year-old woman, married to Imad, a mechanic in Tariq al Jdideh who fixes motorcycles.
When Samira got married, she decided to help her husband with his work. She has been doing so for 35 years. “I always loved this job,” she said.
When she first started, Samira found resistance from customers and people around her. “I was attacked by women more than men for choosing this kind of job,” she recalled.
An unusual choice for women, Samira’s career is a testimony of female aptitude in mechanics.
Today, Samira works with her husband at the same garage but she is not his assistant anymore. She now does the same job he does –maybe even better. “I have customers from all over Lebanon now,” she explains. “They come all the way from Tripoli, Sidon and other places to fix their motorcycles.” They all ask for Samira.
Two parrots stand in a cage in Samira’s garage. She says she loves birds and has taught Koukou, one of the two parrots, to curse in Arabic.
The middle-aged woman is busy all day long. The tools she holds in her dark, tough hands are covered with lubricants and oil.
But when she finishes her work at the garage, she does not take a break, as other duties await her at home. Samira has a family to take care of. “My daughter wanted to work with me but I refused because this kind of job is tough for a girl,” she said.
Samira’s daughter is now studying medicine at the Beirut Arab University.
Samira’s mother helps finance her studies. But Samira doesn’t only work to support her family`. She does it because she loves it. “When I don’t work, I feel tired and I don’t feel that I have energy at all,” Samira said.
The early beginnings were not very easy; being a mechanic requires toughness and patience. But Samira’s determination, and strong physique, helped her become what she is today. In her eyes is a pride I have rarely seen before.
“I do not see myself anywhere else,” she said. “It is my space, the place where I always want to be.”
LAU Tribune staff