Sarah Diab, 23, a daughter of the village of Abu Nabhan, the Mit Ghamr district in the Dakahlia governorate, Egypt, has become well-known for a unique reason - she decided to choose a profession that is considered a male bastion and excelled in it: auto mechanics. As a child, Sarah, who was the oldest daughter of her father Ahmed Diab, an auto mechanic with his own workshop, used to accompany her father on his work rounds and became familiar with his skills. She also grew to love the work he did and although she enrolled for a course in commerce, she did many short courses in auto mechanics too.
Encouraged by her family, Sarah soon developed enough confidence to start her own workshop with her brother Muhammed, a little distance from her father’s.
"My father has worked in this profession for more than 35 years, and he is the one who made me love this job and wanted to break into it," Sara told Majalla. "It was also my hobby and I decided to make it my career three years ago.”
Although the sister and brother do seek their experienced father’s help for complex problems, they have now made a name for themselves – especially Sarah, who is seen as a girl who has proven herself as a top car mechanic. According to her, the job itself is not difficult for a woman but breaking the stereotype that women cannot be good car mechanics is the challenge.
"The most difficult thing I faced when starting out is how to deal with people because it is considered a male profession. I used to be so serious and formal while talking with anyone to let people know that I am not frivolous but earnest about my work. I insisted to prove myself," Sarah told Majalla.
At first, people did not accept Sarah working in the workshop seeing her as not professional enough, but afterward, she said that the whole thing became normal and they even trusted her to work on their cars and knew her by name which is a great success for her. Not only that, but she also started her workshop. "When I started organizing for my separate workshop, I felt like I had succeeded. There is something big happening in my life, I am achieving and building my entity and career, and I should have all the responsibility alone for that," Sarah said to Majalla.
Like most people who love what they are doing, Sarah too seeks to perfect her vocation and has a passion to achieve more. Unfazed by people’s initial reaction of disbelief, she persisted and shared her story on social media and got huge feedback and support from the public. What’s more, she even got clients seeking her services after reading about her on social media. Sara said that even the odd negative comments give her the power to continue and not to stop.
"Many people knew me from my pages on social media and I am so happy they are sending me support all the time. Some people also came to my workshop because they saw my story on Facebook," she said.
As is the case with most professional women, Sarah says she has to focus twice as deeply, work twice as hard and deliver twice as much success as male mechanics in order to win the trust of her clients. Moreover, the work itself is physically demanding and requires concentration.
"I want my work to be 100% right to gain the client's trust. There should be no mistakes in repair in order to build my reputation. If I do not give my work my full attention at all times, I can very well hurt myself,” she says, “Something may fall on me and hurt me, it can fall on my leg or hands. For example, while I am lifting the engine of the car or the "coric", I must concentrate to avoid its falling on me.”
Success gained with hard work is always sweeter and the journey to such achievement teaches us to handle challenges, patience, and helps to builds trust in ourselves.
"My family and friends at first supposed that this is a passing fancy and I will leave it because I cannot face its difficulty, but after a while, they supported me and were proud of everything I achieved," Sarah said.
Recently, Ayman Mokhtar, the Governor of Dakahlia, handed Sarah a certificate of thanks and appreciation to encourage her, and in appreciation of her distinction and insistence on breaking into this field of work and excelling in it despite it being considered a difficult profession for women. He said Sarah Diab is a role model for the Egyptian girl.
And the awards keep coming.
"I was honored by Nevin Jameh, Minister of Industry, Nabila Makram, the Minister of Immigration, the Minister of Social Solidarity, the Egyptian Businesswomen Association, and the educational institution for the woman of the countryside," Sarah told Majalla.