From Bike Rider to Local Area Mechanic
Ridwan Shuaibu's Journey of Empowerment
In the quiet Shuni community, nestled within the arid region of Sokoto, a northwestern state in Nigeria, Ridwan Shuaibu’s story unfolds.
Only two years ago, Ridwan was working as a commercial bike rider and self-trained plumber, struggling to make ends meet and care for his aging parents. Life was not always easy. After taking care of his own sustenance and his aging parents from his meagre income, he would have just enough money left to indulge in the special dried meats that were a delicacy in his community, which he ate while daydreaming of a better life.
Ridwan had always harbored a deep fascination for technical professions but could not see how his vocation of being a commercial bike rider and plumber could become anything more. He had once repaired a damaged borehole, displaying his resourcefulness and problem-solving skills. It was a moment of triumph as the water flowed once again, bringing joy to the community. This made him popular for plumbing among the villagers.
A golden opportunity
While providing plumbing services in a local household, a neighbour noticed his innate talent and recommended him for training as a Local Area Mechanic (LAM)
When Ridwan was selected to be trained, his excitement was palpable. During the training, he not only learnt how to maintain water facilities but also the correlation between having properly maintained water facilities and good health. With his newfound knowledge and expertise in water source maintenance, Ridwan believed he could help eradicate the scourge of water-borne diseases like cholera from his community.
Embracing his new role as a local area mechanic, Ridwan honed his skills further. He has repaired and maintained 15 hand pumps and motorized boreholes in his community. But Ridwan's impact transcended mere repairs. Recognizing the importance of empowering his community, he took it upon himself to educate fellow residents about minor maintenance tasks, ensuring they didn't have to rely on him constantly.
His newfound vocation brought not only financial stability but also a renewed sense of purpose. As a LAM, Ridwan saves every penny, working towards his ultimate goal: studying mechanical engineering at a university.
"I believe that this work I am doing now is the right path to becoming a university-trained mechanical engineer. It will help me make a better impact on my community."
From a humble bike rider to a local area mechanic with a vision, Ridwan is well on his way to achieving his dreams.
Together with USAID, UNICEF has trained 36 Local Area Mechanics in Sokoto State, to provide maintenance services on handpump and solar-motorized water facilities under the Improved Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. Local Area Mechanics like Ridwan ensure that communities have safe drinking water, protecting vulnerable people, especially children from waterborne diseases.