In the wake of the slave trade crisis in Libya, I’d like to share my story about my domestic staff and the lessons I’ve learnt to respect every hard worker irrespective of whether they are under your employ or not.
Blessing is a 24 year old single woman from Plateau State. She started working for me 3 months ago. Generally, I have no problems with her as she is respectful and maintains a cheerful disposition most times. She does have her own flaws. She forgets instructions so much, it is unbearably annoying. And if she takes dirty laundry out to wash, forget it…you’ll be looking for your clothes for almost a week. No matter how much you tell her, she still mixes up laundry and takes forever to sort them out. She also needs close supervision to wash bathrooms and sinks to standard. Other than that, she’s ok.
The times we spend in the kitchen prepping meals and cooking gives us time to discuss and get to know each other better. She is an orphan. Blessing was still in JS1 when her parents died in a ghastly motor accident many years ago. They were travelling from Lagos where they lived to their village for Christmas. Blessing and her siblings were also in that car, but the children all survived while both parents died. The children were sent to live with their grandmother in the village. Blessing’s education ended and she became a farmer.
About 5 years ago, she came to the Federal Capital in search of a job. She ended up with a job as a cleaner and housekeeper. I am her third employer. With the money she has earned, Blessing has sent her younger sisters back to school…one of them is in the university. She has built a two-bedroom flat in her village, owns a farm where she plants yams, potatoes and rice. When the crops are harvested, she sells them in the market. On some good farming seasons, Blessing says her rice farm could yield up to five 50kg bags of rice. She also rears pigs and owns two cows. Blessing bought the cows when they were young calves and nurtured them until they became mature. If she was smart enough to purchase a female calf and mates her, she could easily start a small family of a herd of cows. Blessing also owns a small provision (grocery) shop managed by her grandmother while she is here in the city. She sends money home from time to time for the shop to be restocked. So let’s quickly recap Blessing’s business/assets…
- Financial mentor to an undergraduate.
- Two bedroom flat.
- Farmland of yams, rice and potatoes.
- 2 cows
- Grocery Store.
Still, she’s humble enough to keep working as cleaner/housekeeper knowing that she could continue to invest her salary well in her village. I have no choice than to respect her hustle. Reason is, with the high cost of housing in Abuja, children’s schools fees per term running close to one million naira, fuelling and maintaining our cars; not to mention feeding and clothing plus other miscellaneous expenses, what’s left of mine/my husband’s income? We barely struggle to save. It just might be that my own maid may be richer than I am.
While she was here in Abuja, she ran into a young man from her village. He works at a factory. Someone stole at the factory and his employer got all of them arrested. The police told this man his employer was willing to drop charges if all the staff present at factory on the day of the theft would pay the cash equivalent of the stolen items. He needed a loan from Blessing to pay his share so he won’t end up in jail. She bailed him out and his parents who visited her grandmother to express their gratitude, insist she is the best wife for their son. Of course, why won’t they eye her for a potential daughter in-law? SHE IS SELF-MADE.
She needed my advice because she is confused. She doesn’t know if this arranged marriage would work. Besides, she says her plan was to go back to school as soon as her sister was through with her education. As much as I don’t fancy arranged marriages, most times it works out compared to couples who dated and are divorced less than two years after marriage. I told her it’s always best to settle down early. If the young man was a good person and willing to permit her to further her education while married, she might as well go for it, since both families have become cordial.
If she makes up her mind to marry the young man, her wedding has been scheduled for this December. They’ll marry according to their native law and custom. She said they do not have enough money for a lavish wedding.
My point is Blessing has made a success out of her life whichever way you want to look at it. She did not hide under the excuse of being an orphan whose life was demoted from living in Lagos to living in her village to prostitute or become a societal liability.
If Blessing could achieve all of these despite the country’s recession and hardship, then why are our youths being held as slaves in Libya? Why are they fleeing the country in droves only to die like flies in the scorching desert and high sea? Why are our young women eager to go to Europe to start a career as a sex worker, sex slave and human trafficking?
Blessing’s story should serve as an inspiration to our youth that opportunities abound in Nigeria and honest hard work eventually pays off.