Ramadan: We Depend On N900 To Feed – Family Of 9

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The story of a 52-year-old Malam Hassan Isa, a nail-cutter, is that of resilience, contentment, persistence and tenacity.

For over 17 years, Isa has lived in a makeshift home, enduring the scorching sun, sandstorms and rainy seasons that most times make the house inhabitable.

On Monday when Daily Trust Saturday visited Isa and his family of 10, one could see in him the quest to provide for the family but the economic hardship is weighing him down.

Despite being resolute, Isa, who has made a living through nail-cutting business in the last 40 years, now struggles to provide one square meal for his wife and 9 children to break their Ramadan fast.

Our correspondent, who spent hours during the visit, observed how the family lived on his average earning of between N800 and N900 to break their fast daily.

Isa said they sometimes slept on empty stomachs, narrating how they spent three days without food.

“I only make N800 or N900 per day; I rarely get more than that. The highest amount I earned in this business was N1,600 if I was lucky. I charge only N100 per person.

“However, some days I would go out and won’t make any money because not everyone wants my services every day. On such days, my family and I would go to bed on empty stomachs,” he said.

Sitting on a block under the scorching sun without any tree to provide shed in the compound, Ali said they sometimes lived on the goodwill of their neighbours to break their fast in mosques.

“When neighbours bring food to the mosques, we go there to break our fast. But we give thanks to God almighty; every job has its challenges,” he added.

In the makeshift home, which is made of iron rod, convenience/latrine made from woods and supported by the iron rods with tattered mosquito net, one does not need to be told that they live in abject poverty.

Isa said the plot of land on which he built his makeshift home was given to him by a Good Samaritan, adding that he has lived in 13 different places; and should the owner of the plot ask for it, he would have to find another place.

Wife earns N,3000 monthly as maid

Isa has been married to Bilkisa for 27 years, during which they have been through thick and thin. To support the family, his wife works as a maid in people’s houses and earns between N2,000 and N3,000 per month.

“I go to people’s houses to wash dishes and sweep their floors. I spend four to five hours a day and earn between N2,000 and N3,000 per month. And I have to go to those houses by foot,” she explained.

She, however, gave thanks to God for their lives.

On what they go through during the period of heat as their house is made of iron rods, she said, “We have to endure it by pouring water on ourselves until evening.”

Bilkisa wished she had a small business to assist her husband, saying they hardly had enough to eat. She, however, thanked God for the nail-cutting business her husband is doing the maid job she has.

Sharing how she manages her little children when they cry for food, she said, “I usually put a pot on fire to make them stop crying until they sleep off.” 

She said it was always difficult to pacify her youngest child, Amira, who is three years old. “Whenever she cries for food, if I have a token, we will buy something for her and tell the others to be patient.

“I bring burnt or scorched food I collect from people’s pots and leftovers to my kids, just to subside their hunger.

“During the rainy season, water passes through the holes in our makeshift home and we have to endure the discomfort of pouring it out of our rooms until the rain stops,” she said.

Mr and Mrs Isa called on the federal and state governments to assist small-scale business owners who are struggling to make a living by providing funds and skills training to ease their hardship.

‘I couldn’t afford N900 for mother’s medication, N200 PTA levy for children’ 

Isa also said he was faced with more serious challenges as he could not afford N900 for his mother’s ailment, N200 for his children’s education, as well as money to sponsor her grown up daughters that are due for marriage.

He recounted how his relatives called him about his mother’s ailment but he did not have the money needed for treatment. He had to call an old friend to assist him in taking care of the medication and promised to repay him later.

“Yesterday, I received another call from home, requesting assistance. Sadly, I had nothing to give and we could not conclude the conversation before the line went off. Perhaps they had exhausted their credit and I was unable to return their call,” he lamented.

Isa said although he was able to enroll his children in public schools in the local government, he has not been finding life easy to take care of their needs.

“I have been struggling to pay their N200 PTA levy because I have not been able to get it in the past two weeks. And I have two daughters who are due for marriage, but I have no means to marry them off.

“I have never had N20,000 of my own in my entire life, but I do not know what the future holds. I believe that God who made me will never forget me,” he added.

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