By Andualem Sisay Gessesse _ On the International Women’s Day, March 8, an Ethiopian woman pilot, who has been working as captain for Emirates for the past seven years, tells African girls to follow their dreams.
Captain Frehiwot Wolde believes if she managed to achieve her dream coming out of Cherkos, a sub city in Addis Ababa known for extreme poverty, then any African girl can fulfill her dream. She speaks how she achieved her dream and what her life in Dubai for looks. Below is excerpts from the interview with Captain Frehiwot Wolde.
Which part of Ethiopia are you from?
I was born and raised in Cherkos, Addis Ababa.
How long have you been a pilot?
I graduated from the pilot training school in 2003 and have been flying for 16 years on different aircrafts, mainly jets.
How long have you worked with Emirates?
I’ve been a pilot with Emirates for 7 years.
Which aircraft do you operate?
I have flown the B737-200, B737NG, B757, B767, DHC-8 and now I am flying the B777 at Emirates as a Captain.
What influenced you to become a pilot?
My father was a truck driver and my mother was a housewife and it was very important for my parents to ensure my siblings and I went to school, and had a change at doing something different with our lives.
When I was a young girl, I was always curious about airplanes, but never imagine that a girl could become a pilot! When I was in high school I happen to see an article in a newspaper about an Ethiopian female pilot and that inspired me.
From that day on I started dreaming about becoming one, it became a passion. Once I finished school, I took a chance and applied for a pilot training course and was excited to hear that I was accepted.
What are the challenges to being a pilot?
Being a mother of two children and a pilot, it can be challenging to balance work and family. But I have found a way to manage this by building a good and strong support system around me, that helps me during the time I am away from Dubai. I find it very fulfilling doing what I do.
What do you love most about flying?
Besides being at the helm of such a huge and powerful aircraft and the exhilarating feeling of taking it into the air, that never gets old! Flying has given me the opportunity to see the world, meet different people and experience so many amazing cultures. It’s wonderful to be in a job that enables you to be so connected to the world around you.
What is your favorite destination to travel to?
My favorite destination is Cape Town in South Africa, for its amazing scenery, wonderful people and food.
What is it like living in Dubai?
I like living in Dubai and my family loves the lifestyle here – the culture is very suited to families.
There is always something new to do in Dubai especially with the kids.
I also appreciate the opportunities Dubai offers for our kids, with a high standard education system and extra-curricular activities to choose from such as a variety sports.
The other great thing about living in Dubai is that, Dubai has a big Ethiopian community, so we don’t feel far away from home. We have a choice of Ethiopian restaurants in Dubai, if I ever want a taste of home.
What do you like to do for fun / relaxation / unwind?
When I am off, it means family time. I love cycling and have my kids participate as well so we can enjoy time together doing activities, as its important to me to be fit and healthy. Other occasions also includes catching up on movies, either at home or cinema.
What advice would you give African girls on the International Women’s Day?
If given the opportunity, girls can make a big impact in their community. My message to young girls is, whatever your dream is, keep dreaming and work hard towards it. When you work hard and take the opportunity, there will be nothing that will stop you from achieving what you want in life. As the saying goes, “the sky is the limit”.