Name: Sharon McKinnon
Residence: 18, School Way Retreat, Cape Town, South Africa
Work: Video Producer and Editor
Work Place: Workers’ World Media Production

Sharon McKinnon is a 42 years old lady who studied up to grade10 and has built her carrier as a Video Producer and Editor. She belongs to a working class family where she has to earn – each day to buy her daily bread. Her mother is non-literate and works as a domestic worker (doing cleaning, cooking, taking care of children and other). Her father is semi-literate, having studied up to grade 9 and works as a mason (lays tiles on the floor). Sharon has four siblings, 3 brothers and 1 sister.

Although Sharon is the youngest amongst all the siblings she believes that her mother always made her feel like the eldest kid of her family. This is perhaps because of the fact that her mother shared with her all the responsibilities of her house, social or economical, and Sharon took care of many of them. His father passed away in September, 2011. The funeral arrangements were done by Sharon to support her mother and family. As a domestic worker her mother has got no economical benefits like pension, insurance etc.

After finishing grade-10, Sharon started working as a machine operator & quality control inspector in an engineering company entitled ‘Roth Medical Components’. The company produces screws, bone plates and other metal body parts used for surgical/transplant purposes. Sharon as a quality control inspector looked after the sizes, thickness and quality of these products as these were essential parts for use within human bodies.

She worked in the same company for 18 years where she had started her career with the salary of 120 Rands/week and reached to the position where she earned 700 Rands/week. After serving the company for 18 years, she was retrenched from the company in the year 2005.

Sharon was a member of metal workers’ union ‘NUMSA’ (National Union of Metal Workers South Africa) that time. She was a labour host, presenting her union in the community radio station of Workers’ World. After she was retrenched she volunteered for ‘Workers’ World Media Production’ for 2 years. As Sharon is a divorcee, she has the sole responsibility of the upbringing of her 2 kids. To take care of the financial responsible for her family, she earned her livelihood by doing steel photography during these 2 years span.

While volunteering for Workers’ World, Sharon attended the IFWEA conference (in 2006). There she heard Namrata Bali from Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Ahmedabad, India who talked about SEWA and its video production unit for the community, Video SEWA during the conference. That time Sharon got motivated to produce videos. Her idea about Indian woman changed from that day onwards. She was inspired by SEWA, especially by the Video SEWA team, who worked as full time video producers without upsetting all their household duties along with children. Getting inspiration from them she thought to herself, “If they can, Why cannot I?” That event changed her life and career.

Sarah Rykuef, from IFWEA gave her the reference of the ‘Community Video Education Trust’ (CVET) course as she was unemployed that time. The course was a 1 year full time course and was subsidized. Though, having an intense interest, it was not easy for Sharon to join and complete the course, as she had to earn money (livelihood) for three people (she & her two children). She had to deal with the money issues. So, she started working with whatever work she got during the weekends like childcare, photography, etc… along with the fulltime video course.

But when the course required extra lectures and the lectures were set on the Saturdays, Sharon refused to attend it as she had to earn the livelihood of the whole week during the weekends. Thus she required some time for her economic activity, at least the weekend days. When she mentioned her difficulty of attending lectures on Saturdays, to the person in charge of the course, she got a stipend of 150 Rand/week for the course.

During the course she learnt,

  1. Camera Work
  2. Direction
  3. Production
  4. Script Writing
  5. Sound
  6. Editing etc.

She finished the course by the end of 2006. After this course, she participated in another course, of ‘Video Journalism’, offered by ‘Deatch Welle’ organization for 3 weeks, which was also a full time course. She started working with ‘Workers’ World Media Production’ since 2007, after finishing the courses.

Initially she was, editing and playing the pre-recorded programs. Now she conducts live shows (on all labour issues) also. Now she conducts ‘C-TV Labor Show’, an online show of ‘Workers’ World Media Production’. She gets a salary of 13000 Rands/month. She has not only selected and built a career in the field of video production but also managed to increase her income. The inspiration from the ‘SEWA video women’ has an unforgettable impression in her life. The ‘Workers’ World Media Production’ has been motivated by Video SEWA and also has SEWA and Video SEWA’s poster in their office at Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Now, Sharon’s daughter is 24, son is 19 and she also has a 5 year old grandchild. Though her husband made her walk out with her children, she believes, “If I haven’t got divorced, I would not have become what I am today”.

She seems happy and content with her life and career, but she has still one wish - to visit and see SEWA organization in India.