This is a telephone interview I conducted with Ms Maudline Benwari a professional female painter at 3.05pm on Tuesday 19th September, 2017 and she tells us about her work and specially admonishes women to start something today.
Can we meet you?
I am Maudline Benwari a professional painter from Bayelsa State, Nigeria and I currently live in Rivers State, Port-Harcourt. I am from a large family of eleven and I am the sixth child. I am a single parent of three lovely children.
What are your educational qualifications?
Actually, I attended a primary and secondary school but could not go to the University due to financial problems at that time.
When did you start painting?
I started painting when I was 18 years old in 1992 and I have been painting for the past 25 years
What type of paintings to you do?
I do house paintings, spray paintings, pipe paintings, tank paintings, corrosion, sign writing and wallpaper designs.
What inspired you to start painting as a profession?
Let me say that I inspired myself. I started painting just to earn a living to support myself and family. I did not have to meet anyone doing the job and on my own I decided to go into the job.
So why is it painting you chose to go for instead of some other job?
Before I started painting, I was into welding but I had a passion for painting and it was something I could fall back on.
Why do you enjoy doing jobs that are assumed to be men’s jobs, as regards to painting and welding?
In the company I work, there are a lot of women doing this job so I don’t think it is limited to men. I believe that there is no segregation in jobs. There is no job meant for a woman and there is no job meant for a man. You can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it.
Do you do any other job apart from painting?
I am a worker in a corrosion company that produces tanks and sheets but I still go out to do my personal business of painting, fixing tiles, sign writing and block moulding.
If you were not a painter what job would you have loved to do?
(Laughs). I would have loved to have a peaceful life. Skilled jobs are very stressful. However, this is the best profession I find myself doing and I have no regrets in it.
How long does it take you to complete a painting job?
It all depends on the size or complexity of the job. Two or three rooms paint can be done in a day while bigger jobs like estate paintings can last for like five days.
Do you do the jobs all by yourself or you have people who work for you?
I work all by myself but if I need assistance on big jobs that has to be completed quickly I call on other painters to join me.
When you are not painting what else to you love doing?
I enjoy reading, writing, travelling, partying if possible (laughs).
What has been your challenge so far in the job?
My challenge so far is meeting the wrong men who feel that women should be at home and not out there struggling. They use mean statements like, ‘‘go and stay in your husband’s house, why are you here?’’ They give out so much insults that you could become scared and feel like running away: I don’t get scared, I keep moving ahead because I know they are only trying to intimidate women.
Apart from that, have you had challenges with customers complaining about your work?
No customer has ever complained about my work. Even in the company I work, my works are always outstanding among other professional painters. This is because whatever I do, I do it well.
Has your income from the painting job been enough to sustain yourself and 3 children?
In fact, it has been able to sustain my entire family. It is this one job I have used to rebuild my father’s house back at home. I have used it to feed and cater for my children’s needs without help from anyone. I have no regrets in this job. It is my world.
What advice can you give to people who want to start painting as a profession?
Looking at painting there are so many hazards involved, but if we want to focus on these hazards it means we’ll all be handicap and will not have to work to earn a living. To be a good painter you must learn the skills from the scratch. Be patient, never be in a hurry to quickly complete a job and at the end it turns out to be a poorly done work. That way, you will offend your client. You must have the zeal, courage and stamina for the job because it is very tasking. There will be days you will stand for the whole day working because you cannot sit while painting.
What advice do you have for women who think some jobs are meant for men?
In the Niger Delta where I come from, there are so many women, I mean elderly women carrying blocks on their heads, climbing ladders with head pans filled with cement and many more. There is nothing a woman cannot do. These women make me encourage myself that I need to be stronger. You are not going into the job to compete with the men: you are going in to help your children and family. If a man is always the one bringing money, food and taking care of everyone’s needs and all you do as a woman is to sit at home and make requests to him: soon he will get tired and pissed off then begin to go out looking for independent women that work who would not burden him with their needs. As a woman, it is good and wise to go out of your comfort zone and look for a means of living. Even if you don’t need the money or you don’t want to help yourself, you can help other people through your hard work and dedication. You can sponsor and train people for jobs. There is nothing a woman cannot do as long as she has the strength.
How can people contact you to give you jobs?
Apart from doing the painting jobs for my clients, I also want to start a free painting training for women.
I can be reached on facebook @Maudline Benwari
You can call me on 08039402237.
These are some of Maudline’s works.
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You welcome, its my pleasure speaking with you.
Note: please don’t forget to contact Maudline on 08039402239 or facebook @Maudline Benwari