I looked at my background and how I started. While growing up, I saw how people suffered and are still suffering. I was suffering too, barely managing to survive. I wasn’t opportune to attend secondary school to start with. When I was in primary school, I go out to hustle for menial jobs after school hours,. I did any job I lay my hands on including mixing cement and concrete in construction sites as a woman.
After my primary school, I hadn’t any sponsor to see me through secondary and tertiary education and that prompted me to get married at an early age of 17 years old. Before my marriage, I got a job as a cleaner after my primary education with Abuja Municipal Area Council in 1991 and I was issued an appointment/offer letter in February 1992, and I worked as a cleaner for about 10 to 15 years.
After my marriage, I gave birth to our first and second child , and my husband, seeing that I was very industrious, said to me “darling you can’t continue like this”. So he enrolled me in a private secondary school in Kubwa here at Nigeria Federal Capital Territory. When I sweep/clean in the morning, I go to school in the afternoon starting from JSS1.
While I was cleaning, I was using a major part of my salary to assist people financially. This was because I have gone through hell (hard times) myself and the salary I earned was a big relief, so I could still relate with the sufferings of people who are on the lower rung of the ladder than I found myself. I WAS MOVED TO ASIST PEOPLE WITH THE LITTLE I HAD AND BEFORE I UNDERSTOOD WHAT WAS GOING ON, SHARING BECAME A CULTURE AND WAY OF LIFE FOR ME.
I wrote SSCE (Senior Secondary School Examination) three (3) consecutive times without passing. And it was a sin to me, to allow anybody aid me to pass. I insisted and sat for the forth time and I passed the examination. I then proceeded to gain admission into school of health and graduated after 3 years. The money I use to be assisting people came from my salary, retail business (I sold yams at Ushafa Bridge in Bwari Area Council at the time) and other businesses.
In 2015, I had an idea to create and NGO out of my passion to empower women and the vulnerable on our communities. I immediately called some few people and our first ever meeting recorded twenty (20) people in attendants. When people heard that I had setup and NGO, the next meeting scheduled a week after the first meeting recorded seventy nine (79) people in attendance despite the fact that I wasn’t present at the second meeting as I was in far away journey to Kaduna State that day.
I empowered those participants with Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000)only. The idea was that, the beneficiaries would trade with the money they are given and refund same without interest at an agreed upon time. The refunded money would then be given to another person to trade and the circle continues.
As event unfolds, I realize that; THE MORE I ASSIST PEOPLE, THE MORE GOD BLESSED ME. So far, I can boldly say that Mairo Women Foundation Ushafa has empowered over 5, 000 and still counting women, trained over 500 in skills acquisition and disbursed over 5 Million Naira in cash/startup grants and financial aids to women and the vulnerable in our communities and with over 400 active members and counting.
This is our story, and its just our starting point. My unalloyed gratitude goes to my loving husband, Mr. Barnabas Isa.