For many people, having a second chance at life is a blessing, one which Terryka Joseph holds close to her heart. After dropping out of school because of circumstances beyond her control, Joseph was determined to make her life better one way or another.
As such, she enrolled in a welding class at the Kuru Kuru College on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and today, she has advanced in the field to such lengths that she can be described as one of Guyana’s better female arc welders.
Joseph, who hails from the mining town of Bartica, has been a welder for more than 18 years. Fondly called “TJ” by her peers, she started in the field around 2003 when personnel from the Kuru Kuru college visited Bartica. “They were looking for people who could have enrolled in the college to do the different courses,” she told this publication.
“I was a school dropout,” she said, noting that she left secondary school in the First Form.
She said after she completed the form to attend Kuru Kuru College, she wrote an exam and managed to attain good scores to gain admission to the college.
Joseph said she chose welding as the programme she wanted to study and she noted that she had no clue what it entailed. “I just knew I had to do something,” she said. She said she was the only female on the batch at the time.
She spent 10 months at the college and during that time, she completed her work-study attachment at the Guyana National Industrial Cooperation. Joseph said she started working at the now-defunct Guyana Sawmills which was at Bartica at the time. “When I went to Kuru Kuru College I had no idea what I was getting into,” she reiterated.
Joseph, who is the 5th of 8 children, said that over the years she has managed to perfect the art of welding. She said she can weld anything with her blowtorch; she makes barbeque grills, computer desks, and grills for securing homes. In addition, she also welds large-capacity structures such as excavator buckets.
One of her most prized works occurred recently when she built a double-pontoon structure for a miner in the hinterland. She said she hadn’t a clue how to start off building the structure when hired but she noted that she was confident that she would be able to assemble the structure.
She toiled with the blowtorch; burning the iron, welding, and re-welding. And with the assistance of two labourers, the structure was built and she even assisted the labourers in painting the structure upon completion. “I was praised for that job,” she noted.
Joseph said she doesn’t think there is a profession that a female cannot master. “I see myself as a welder, not just as a female welder,” she noted. “Sometimes I am made out to be a threat to the male welders,” she noted.
She said she sometimes feels pressured being in the field given the notion that the job suits males. She said, however, that she loves the field and that she would enjoy working alongside the males in a workshop environment.
At the moment, Joseph works on projects for hire and some of the projects see her travelling into the hinterland to weld.
Joseph said her mother is her biggest inspiration and she noted that one must always honour their parents. In addition, she said she believes anyone can succeed in life. “You can become anything you want to become. Just follow your dreams, blank out the negativity, you will have struggles, but keep your chin up, be focused and follow your dreams.”