An average pure water seller makes about forty naira every six hours. Over seventy percent of these sellers are children.
This implies his/her total earnings in twenty-four hours is one-hundred-and-sixty naira. That is less than a dollar. Countries where its citizens live on one dollar a day are rated poor-countries. If many Nigerian children live below one-dollar a day on money they struggled for, where does that rate her?
Everyday, the seller wakes up to another struggle for thy daily bread on major express roads. Always being at the mercy of the environmental protection board who whip them with cane when caught, burst their water and fine them N5000, five-thousand-naira. Where do they expect them to get the money from and who does that money go to?
Having to face so many challenges just to survive, a report by UNICEF on child labor stated over fifteen million children enter the labor market everyday, working hard to feed their families at such a tender age. Selling, hawking, trading, sweeping, etc.
Yet, majority of the people in metropolitan and downtown Lagos would rather give a beggar sitting in a place or just walking around begging for alms; (though handicapped or crippled), than leave ten naira change for the boy or girl (young or old) trying to make a honest living, by hawking water or anything else on the express-way or in traffic.
Interview By Christabel Alfred Nwankwo
I interviewed three water sellers few days ago, and according to them. Sometimes, it takes about six hours to sell twenty sachets of water which amounts to a total of N200 ie One Dollar, with today’s exchange rate.
From the two hundred naira, the profit is only about forty naira as the pure water sellers have to pay the wholesalers their money back as well as cover the price for ice block which was used to cool the water.
The long and short of it is that some of them make only forty naira in six hours of hustling under the hot sun, risking lives on major express roads and always at the mercy of the environmental protection board who whip them with cane when caught, burst their water and fine them N5000, five-thousand-naira.
As if that isn’t bad enough, when passengers and drivers reach the traffic stops, they prefer to dash N100, N200, or even N500 to beggars and fake sufferers who sometimes make about N1,500 a day doing nothing but begging, leaving them richer, luckier, and safer, than the pure water sellers who are young entrepreneurs serving the larger community with their trade and trying to make ends meet.
On an encounter of mine. I lost my tfare home (didn’t own a debit card then but I do now, lol) and I had to beg for money from total strangers on the streets of Lagos. It was crazy, it was ridiculous but I had to go home and I had no other choice. Have you tried begging for money? It’s shameful. But when it’s the only option you think you have, that’s all you’ll get.
One doesn’t have to be extra buoyant to give, even five naira pure water can mean a lot on a day when you have no dime.
#1 Give-away to the pure water seller instead. Or that old woman selling chewing stick on your street. People with so little wares you can’t help but wonder how they live.
#2 Learn to leave basic change like N10, N20 or fifty naira if you are feeling good enough. Not if you have enough. You might have but won’t give. If you feel good, you’ll give.
#3 Don’t be rude. They are trying the best they can with the life their family has given them. Say something nice or don’t say anything at all. Be patient. Encourage.
#4 The least you can do is not knock them down while driving and they are trying to earn a quick keep. It might be the only trade they make all day.
#5 Their hustles begins everyday. Do you really think they like their life? The least you can do to make it better is make them smile by saying ”Thank you” and feel worthy.
Photo Credit, compassodyssey