Felix Atanas: The Proud Mechanic
WHEN Felix Atanas’ father passed away in 2003, the boy and his two siblings looked up to their mother for support. However, three years later their beloved mother fell sick and lost her sight. The brothers became devastated and life became hard; but it also meant one thing – 14 year old Felix had to be the family’s breadwinner.
The Atanas family tragedy came at a time when Felix, the eldest child, was in standard five at a primary school in Mbeya. The situation affected his studies because he had to engage in different kinds of work for the sake of his family’s survival.
“Every day as soon as I got back from school I used to find small jobs that would earn me money. I particularly used to work with the builders who would send me to fetch water for them or carry bricks, and the money I earned helped us at home,” he recalls.
Felix is now a grown young man aged 22, and he recalls the times when he used to work as an underage boy, to his current success that has led him to be a trusted mechanic and motorcyclist in the city. This success is due to a program run by KIHUMBE, a local NGO in Mbeya, funded by USAID through DAI Imarisha. The program is aimed at supporting young people like Felix who were once being supported by another phased-out USAID-funded program for Most Vulnerable Children (MVC).
Under the current 12 month program that Felix is undergoing at the KIHUMBE Incubation Centre, the young man who once studied to be a mechanic at the same centre is now working in order to gain experience and learn the different new technologies used in his field. He is confident that at the end of the program, he will be able to work anywhere, using any latest mechanic tools.
“When I finished my initial training as a mechanic under the MVC program in 2012, I was not able to find a job because I didn’t have any experience and was not up to date with the latest technologies that were in use. Coming back here under the incubation program has helped me move to another level, since I am directly involved in fixing cars and motorcycles, and I practically know everything right now,” he says confidently.
Apart from the mechanic work that he does at the incubation centre, Felix is also a motorcyclist, a job that helps him continue taking care of his mother and two siblings. He is sure that once the program ends, he will go to work at a garage, and he is positive that he will get a job straight away.
“Calling us back to gain experience was the best thing that ever happened. If it weren’t for this incubation program, it would have been a waste because even though we initially trained as mechanics, we didn’t really have the required expertise. At this moment, customers are looking for us,” explains a proud Felix. With the confidence that he shows, he will surely go a long way.