#MundaneConversations – Turning your struggle into gold

Is there anyone in this world who loves to struggle? If we could have our way, I’m sure a lot of us would opt for the get rich quick method. I call it the plant today and see the ready-to-harvest tree tomorrow. Sadly it doesn’t happen that way. That’s where the so called ‘struggle life’ comes in. Personally I don’t like the term ‘struggle life’. It sound to me like someone going around in circles without making progress. That term truly should be described as tenacity; putting in your all till you get to the ultimate end. That is when the struggle begins to get refined and eventually turns to gold.

I met a woman recently who shared a beautiful story with me. It was a story of how she turned the struggle to gold just by selling bread. Bread? N100 Agege bread? I was eager to hear how she was able to achieve it. Her story started on a sombre note. Her husband woke up one day and decided to abandon her with her four children. The youngest at the time was four years old. As you can imagine, she was distraught. What was she to do? She was uneducated and according to her, she did not have any ‘useful skills’. The man left her without looking back so she had to find a way to survive. This was her debut into the struggle life.

It wasn’t as if life before then was all glittery and nice. She wasn’t living a glamorous life but she and her family were able to survive on the little money her husband brought home every month. That standard of living was about to drop drastically. After putting together all the pity money she received in the aftermath of the separation, she decided to start selling bread. “I no know wetin I fit do. I just say let me try bread. At least, money go dey enter small small”, she said with a reminiscent tone. She started off by selling bread in her house. Luckily, her husband had just paid the rent so she still had 11 months before the next rent was due. The children on the other hand, just had a few months before the next term’s fee was due.

“Na so I start the bread business. Small small money dey come in. Me and my children fit chop”, she said as she continued to narrate her story. Money was coming in steadily but not enough to send her children back to school. It was sufficient for the basic need; food. They couldn’t even buy clothes. According to her, she enjoyed God’s favour because there were days when she will wake up to find a large number of people outside her house waiting to buy bread. Although she knew little about doing business, she wanted to provide the best for her customers. So she always selected the best bread when the supplier came around. She also took personal interest in her customers. She spent time talking to them and they grew fond of her. So every now and then, she was given rather generous tips.

Almost two years later, her story changed. She had expanded her business to include grinding pepper, selling raw food like rice, beans and cooking condiments (salt, maggi, thyme etc). She was the go-to person for anything food related. She also learned how to sew and was able to purchase a sewing machine. “I just dey think of how I fit make money so that my children go fit continue school”, she explains. The expansion was successful and her clients increased by the day. I had to stop her and ask what made her keep hope alive and she said, “Na my children. I no want them to beg.” So even when the landlord threatened to throw her out of the house after her rent was due for over six months, she still kept hope alive. She held on to God despite the fact that her children had been sitting at home for almost a year.

Today, the story is different. All her children are now graduates thanks to the little bread business she started over 20 years ago. One of them is currently pursuing a Masters degree abroad on scholarship. “My dear na God! Me I just dey work and He just dey bless me”, she said excitedly. “See this life can be hard but if you lose hope you go be like dead person.” I smiled at that statement. Her struggle has indeed turned to gold. I looked around at the ground floor shop where loaves of bread were neatly arranged on the shelf with a brand new sewing machine sitting idly in the corner. The look of the shop will fool you; chipped paint, the pungent smell of blended pepper and the dilapidated building to the right of the shop. But you see, that same old worn out shop has been this woman’s instrument of success. It’s her goldmine.


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