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Inspiring African StoriesMeet Nyillah E. Cawray: The Undergraduate Student Who Finds Passion In Carpentry

Meet Nyillah E. Cawray: The Undergraduate Student Who Finds Passion In Carpentry

Nyillah E. Cawray is a young Sierra Leonean undergraduate who seeks to change the stereotypical narrative of females in the male-dominated profession of carpentry. Yes! Aside from her educational career, Nyillah Cawray is a carpenter with enormous knowledge of woodwork and styles.

Nyillah Cawray was born in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone. She did her secondary education at the Annie Walsh Memorial School. At the moment, Nyillah is a final-year student writing her thesis and awaiting graduation at Fourah Bay College. She is set to graduate with an honours degree in BA Political Science.

Growing up as a young girl, Nyillah was always fascinated and drawn to woods and their technicalities. By the time she was in her teens, she quickly realized how passionate she was and gave in to her dream. Well, Nyillah didn’t start just yet. She waited an extra four years to attempt the skill of carpentry. The sexist nature towards carpentry slowed her attempt. “I noticed my passion for wood at age 16-17 but it took me 4 years to start doing what I love. This was because of the sexist nature towards carpentry, especially in Sierra Leone,” Nyillah Cawray told The African Dream.

Nyillah’s product
A satisfied customer posing with a cabinet made and designed by Nyillah

Nyillah sought training for two years and applied the knowledge she attained in opening a workshop. Now, she is proudly a carpenter. She aims to change the narrative and perception of women in the profession. “I am doing this to build it to a point where I can make money and also be an inspiration to other young women. I aim at scaling this business and growing it to a point that I can start training and employing other young people, especially women,” she explained.

The sexist stereotypes are part of the many challenges Nyillah face each passing day. In addition, a profession like carpentry is classed as dirty or meant for low-class people. These are negative meanings attached to technical jobs. However, with Nyillah Cawray, everything is about to change.

The response or perception of Nyillah by the public is generally impressive. Many males marvel at her courage and many women see her as an inspiration. When asked about where she sees herself and her work in the next 5 years, Nyillah smiled and said “In the next 5 years I know the old stereotype towards skills workers and females in the construction industry will be much more different.”

So far, Nyillah’s decision to venture into carpentry surely wouldn’t have any regret. She recently won 30 million Leones in a competition sponsored by the World Bank. Nyillah Cawray has three pieces of advice for young people.

  • Keep going for what you want.
  • Everyone should have a particular Skill Set.
  • Put God in all you do.

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