Buoyed by the solution to stave off hunger and dwell on her perspiration, Mary Daniel finds boundless strength inside her frailties. Being an orphan and walking with one leg supported by a crutch is inadequate for a 26-year-old to undermine her values. She’s vowed to not beg on the streets because fate dealt her a massive cut at age 11.
That courageous settlement makes her eke out a living on the highways in Oshodi, among Lagos’ busiest cities, hawking bottled water in horrible traffic to appeal to himself, his two-year-old kid, and his elderly grandmother.
At approximately 5 pm, she staggered on her crutch to the complex, an empty black bowl dangling on her left hand. The only mum had just returned from a different round of rough paddling, a fourth at the afternoon.
Encounter with destiny at age 11
Growing up in Katsina State, where she lived with her parents, Daniel nursed as a normal kid’s dream. She wished to have regular education and aspired to a fabulous future. She had been in primary four when her amazing hopes were dashed in December 2006 on the street.
That fateful day, she and her parents were travelling to their country house in Ayingba, Kogi State, for Yuletide, they had been involved in a deadly accident.
Her parents and a few others perished in the wreck that smashed her leg. This was all she would recall until days later when she had been left with a leg.
“I was only 11-year-old then so that I could not remember everything that occurred,” Daniel narrated “My leg was crushed and it needed to be amputated. Doctors said I’d die if it wasn’t cut,” she commented grimly, adjusting her place on a seat she sat.
She added, “My sisters did not travel with us this year. My younger brother, Godwin, is currently living with my aunt from the village while my older sister, Esther, resides in Abuja. She is married but living from hand to mouth”
Months after her leg Daniel reawakened her dying fantasies. She jumped to the village and came back to school. But only when she thought she had been on the ideal path to victory, a second bombshell dropped.
“I fell out in JSS 3,” she mumbled. “I had been going to school on a government scholarship but they stop paying my charges. This has been 2014.”
There on, she sought solace in hawking, moving from one state to another Anambra, Delta and Lagos.
She recounted, “I jumped to Onitsha (Anambra State) and began promoting sachet water. I utilize the profits that I make to nourish myself
and send some cash to my grandma in town. She’s over 70 years old and that I do not desire hunger to kill her.
“In 2018, grandma told me that a guy from the village wanted to marry me and she asked me to come back home. While we were dating, I got pregnant but he refused to take charge of the pregnancy.
“Out of pity, I travel to Asaba (Delta State) and lasted hawking sachet water. I squatted with a girl from our village for several months before I leased an apartment.
“An automobile brushed my arm while I had been hawking in traffic. I was pregnant then. A samaritan watched me bleeding and gave me N100,000. I used the money to rent a little apartment and purchased some baby items. I gave birth in 2019.”
She simply had a ‘maternity leave’ until she returned to the roads, hawking sachet water in the traffic and market palace along with her baby.
She continued, “I chose to return to Lagos about a couple of weeks ago since I wasn’t selling well in Asaba. I offered my house appliances to increase the fare. My daughter is with the girl I dwelt within Asaba. She’s presently in Ayingba together with my infant. My grandma did not understand I’m currently in Lagos. Last week send N8,000 for my grandmother and I wish to send N10,000 for her this week. I’m the only one caring for her.
“I met a girl selling noodles and I explained my plight to her. She helps me up with one Alhaja woman whom I purchase packs of bottled water. I buy a bunch for N600 and earn N240 profit. I market six to eight packs every day and create a gain of N1,000 into N1,500. I conserve N500 daily. I would like to send the money for the maintenance of my daughter at the end of the month”
Bottled water never compensated for in traffic
passengers had gone away twice with her cash when waiting for them to pay after giving them water.
“The first time was on Wednesday and now (Friday). The vehicles that they had been in transferred while the traffic slipped off and I could not run after them to collect my cash,” she added.
Daniel also requires a reasonable slice of the dangers that include street trading. Tactful navigation around gridlock is art work any normal trader should learn in traffic to avert fatal threats. And Daniel has been learnt to become more skilful than her make vulnerable in her condition.
“I hawk in traffic about Terminal 1, Bolade and Oshodi market,” she revealed. “I wait for traffic to become standstill and dashboard into the path to market commuters. I escape to the roadside when the gride ease off and yields immediately there’s another standstill. It’s stressful but I use the medication in the day to kill pains”
Passing the night around the balcony
Even night isn’t a duvet for Daniel following an onerous job daily. She moans out below the chilly and grating noise of mosquitoes spilt on her.
“I sleep on the balcony and passing of a home on the market,” she explained, pointing in a storey construction on Suwebatu Street. “I barely sleep at night due to mosquitoes,” she moans, before breaking down in tears. “So that I usually pray during the night,” she added after a lengthy pause.
Daniel said she takes a brief rest after the initial round of hawking in the afternoon to compensate for the sleepless night.
Why I hate begging
Daniel on the balcony in which she moans Photos: Afeez Hanafi, Facebook
Regardless of being an orphan and physically challenged, Daniel isn’t bogged by her adversities. “I don’t like begging since I think I have the power to operate and appeal for myself,” she announced. “I understand I’m not lazy and I chose to not beg. Some people who are begging do not even make as much as I do every day. Some people, from pity, will present me N1,000 or N2,000 after purchasing water .”
She added, “that I want to have a store of my own that I can have a much better means to look after my grandma and daughter. I’d like to have one artificial leg but it was painful whenever I wore it. So I chose to use a crutch.”
We are astounded at Daniel’s hard work — Dealers, resident
A beverage seller, Alhaja Bolanle Gafar, by whom Daniel collects bottled water told Saturday PUNCH she originally turned down the only mother’s petition when she approached her.
She clarified, “I saw her about a couple of weeks back on the road. The following day, a neighbour brought me. She stated she’d be buying bottled water to hawk. I was amazed because even people that aren’t physically challenged always whine that hawking is trying. I originally turned down her but she insisted that I must promote her.
“I gave her only pack but she asked more. I dropped but she insisted that I included one more package. She desired me to bring a purse of sachet water however I refused. I kept wondering until she arrived back later selling everything. She went and paid with another 2 packs. She did six rounds daily. Occasionally, she does eight or seven.
“Whenever I tell her to slow down, then she’ll say she wants to hustle. She came from far distances to hawk.”
Another dealer, Mrs Amudalat Oyinkansola, stated she had been astonished by Daniel’s assurance and her determination to be successful.
She said, “About a couple of weeks before, she entered the most complicated one day and approached me. She narrated her position to me and that I felt awful. I was astonished at her assurance. She said she’s thankful she’s still living and she will flourish 1 day. She stated she wished to become hawking bottled water and I advised her to come the following day. I introduced Alhaja.”
A noodle vendor who Daniel initially fulfilled in Lagos, Mrs Adeleke Olowoora, stated she provided her with a rack to show her wares however she insisted on hawking to push earnings.
Olowoora clarified, “She came into my stand using a purse about 5 pm and sat by me. She purchased noodles. When she stopped eating, she explained she arrived to settle in Lagos but she had nowhere to sleep.
“As soon as I was going home, I wanted a guy, Mr Felix, to allow me to look for someplace she would sleep. I wished to take her house but I was fearful. She’s been sleeping on the balcony of this guy’s rented flat on Suwebatu Street. Mosquitoes are bothering her I advised her to stay for some time.”
The resident, Felix Aku, stated on Daniel’s first day in the area, he wished to take her into a makeshift arrangement where folks pay a token daily to pass the evening.
He stated, “It was late and I had been scared to permit her sleeping in my flat. I finally allowed her. A lot of people sleep in my flat. She said she’d be sleeping on the balcony. My landlady watched her and she permitted her to be sleeping on the balcony”
Donations to Daniel could be made through her Access Bank account with Account Name: Mary Daniel and Account Number: 1235107726.