She is 19 year’s old and her job is to dive into the ocean to clean up shipwrecks. Seen by many as a job that only men can do, Kimlee Campher is proof that there is no such thing as ‘man work’.
Born and raised in Mitchell’s Plain, Kimlee also proves that there is nothing wrong with being a bit ‘forward’. Her interest in commercial diving started when she was working in the Human Resources department of a marine salvaging and construction company. Part of her duties included visiting the operation sites of the company and it is here that she became interested in the company’s diving operation. Being a bit ‘forward’, she started asking around, enquiring about how she could become a diver. After a few days of bothering her bosses, she finally got a call last year asking her if she wants to train as a commercial diver. She began her training the following Monday.
Her job is to dive into the ocean and help remove any shipwreck parts as well as doing some underwater construction where needed. Shipwrecks are all over the ocean floor and they are causing congestion which makes it more difficult for ships to sail through these areas. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and some of the dangers include getting trapped in sunken fishing nets, being exposed to hazardous toxins, explosions, structural collapse and random drownings due to the unpredictable nature of the ocean. Many highly experienced divers have met their end in salvaging operations and there is even the nightmarish danger of getting lost in the wreck.
Despite these dangers, Kimlee’s love for the ocean is greater than her fear. She says that she applied simply because she loves being under water and exploring new underwater worlds. She is also a bit of thrill seeker so it makes her feel alive to do this very dangerous job.
Kimlee will be one of the few women in South Africa that qualifies as a commercial diver because it has always been seen as man’s job. She says that when she started her training, she was the only woman on the team and the men were telling her to go back to the office where it is safe. Instead of letting this affect her confidence, it only motivated her to prove them wrong and as result of her disciplined work ethic, she proved that she is just as capable as them.
Kimlee’s short term goal is to complete all the levels in her training so that she can qualify for a supervisor role. Part of the training includes doing physics level maths and she says the funny thing is that she never liked mathematics in school but now she absolutely loves it.
The advice she gives to others is don’t just wait around and hope for something to happen. Be a bit forward, take the chance and just believe in yourself.