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'I cried when I came to Ibadan but life is very difficult in the north' – Tribune Online

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Harira Muhammadu left her husband, aged father and children behind in Kano to face a “life of uncertainty” on the streets of Ibadan. She told Saturday Tribune during week that she had no choice than to beg because she could not afford to watch her children starve.
She said things are very difficult back north if not she would have remained with her family and while being here, she makes a living from people’s good will and she is thankful for whatever people gave to her.
“If things were easy and sweet for us back home, we would not come here to live this life of uncertainty. I have some motherless and fatherless children with me and I do not have anything to feed them with and it is a lot of work.
“Last year, while I was here with some of the children, my daughter died and left six children behind. I had to travel back home and stayed for eight months and when I returned, I was looking like a mad woman because of how difficult it was back home.
“Back here, we could afford to eat and drink, have clothes and shelter and people still gave us money.People have been helping us, when the children are begging, some gave them money while some gave them clothes. Sometimes people will come in their cars with food and share it round or they give us money to go and buy food.
“We make a living from the little alms we get. Even N5 is something to us, we take it with so much gratitude in our hearts and pray that God blesses the person,” she said.
Though her husband allowed her travel west, he always called to know about her wellbeing.

Harira also revealed that a Good Samaritan had promised to enroll one of the girls (her granddaughter) in school because he noticed how reserved she was among other children.
“I am still married to my husband in the north but he cannot take care of me and my grandchildren but he always calls to check on our wellbeing.
“I thank God because two of the children with me here are in school and again someone promised to enroll one of the girls in school because he saw how reserved she was among other children while they were begging.

“However, I pleaded with him to hold on because I am planning to travel home at the end of the year with the children so when we return she could be enrolled and he agreed.
“But he pleaded that I keep to my words because he is not happy about how she is roaming the streets. I told him that even we in the village know the value of education, we just could not afford to send them to school,” she revealed.
With so much responsibilities on her shoulders, Harira still offered to assists her nephew’s son who was murdered adding to the number of children under her care.
“My responsibility keeps growing because my elder sister’s son was murdered in Kano and his motorcycle was snatched. I had to take one of his surviving children. I couldn’t even stay to mourn with my sister even though she wanted to come with me but her husband is not like mine so he wouldn’t allow her and my responsibilities are way above hers.”
Harira recalled the first time she came to Ibadan, when she would hide away from the children to cry and when they cried together as they tried to navigate through their new sojourn in the west.
“I remember when I first came here many years ago, one of my sisters introduced me to the West though she has now moved to Togo. That time we were sitting in Sabo, I did not know where to go or what to do and I was afraid and all.
“I would cry and wipe my tears. Sometimes, the children would cry with me but I endured because I knew that if I returned home the suffering would be more severe. After a year, I was able to save some money and bought a grinding machine and returned home but it did not last long. I stayed in the north for 15 months and after the engine got spoilt, I came back here again to beg.
“Again last year, around December we were chased away from this place I had these children with me. I gathered all of them and we went to beg in the market. I had a toddler on my back and I was crying bitterly because I didn’t know what to do. It was a tough moment for me then. Some people sympathized with us while some saw an opportunity to insult us. After everything fizzled out, we came back and we are here today,” she told Saturday Tribune.
She declared that she is still agile and wished to find something sustainable to do back home and stop wandering about because she is not happy about her situation.
“I am always praying to God to provide me with a business or something so that I can go back home, I’m still strong as you can see. I have 14 children all in the north and they are just struggling, the girls are married.
“Honestly I do not like this wandering about. If I tell you I am happy about my situation then it means I’m happy with death but I am left with no choice. We do all this for the children. This year we bought a measure of grains for N1,500 and maize flour at N1,700 so how do we then feed if we do not beg?,” she inquired.
She said when she married her husband, he was doing well as a tailor but as time went by with new trends, he could not catch up with the demand.
She added that things became difficult back home as sometimes they could barely afford to cook for days.
“When I married, my husband was doing well, he was a tailor but now he is old and he cannot sew the trending style so he is now just patching people’s clothes and they don’t come by often. Sometimes they call me and say they have not cooked or eaten anything in three days.
“They called to beg us to send something home, he was swearing but I asked him to stop because I understand the situation.Because we know how the situation is back home, we save from the little we get. Sometimes we contribute N200 or N500 as savings depending on what our strength is at the time and when we take the contribution we send it home so that they can also feed and we too whenever we travel home,” she said.
Harira said she and the other beggars were always delighted when they travelled home and that they found it hard to return.
“We are always happy when we go home. We enjoy being with our families. There was a time I travelled back home and when it was time to return I cried bitterly like a child and I prayed for God to intervene in our situation,” she told Saturday Tribune.
 
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