Twenty-one-year old Arcelia Faroca Fernandes challenged Timor-Leste's social norms to become the country's first-ever female car mechanic when she graduated from a training scheme supported by the Asian Development Bank.
“I wanted to become a mechanic because I have always enjoyed fixing cars and I wanted to show the world that women can be mechanics,” says Arcelia Faroca Fernandes, a car mechanic supervisor from Dili.
“I wanted to change people’s perceptions that only men can be mechanics.”
Forming a skilled workforce is crucial to achieve sustainable economic growth and fight poverty in Timor-Leste.
The government is supporting vocational training providers like the Don Bosco Training Center.
Facilities and equipment have been upgraded, boosting the numbers of skilled workers in the automotive and construction trades.
ADB is supporting the initiative with a $12 million grant.
“I was 19 when I heard on the radio about a mechanics training opportunity at Don Bosco in Dili,” says Arcelia.
“I went there and trained to be a mechanic for 9 months.”
“I did further training with the ambulance service and at a car service company.”
Now 21, Arcelia is Timor-Leste's first ever female mechanic working as supervisor at her garage.
“It is very dirty work and I am the only female mechanic, but with the spirit I have and the big desire I have to be a good mechanic,” she says.
“I do the best job I can.”