This is the life story of Mary Daniel, a 26-year-old amputee single mother who hawks in the streets of Oshodi, Lagos to make ends meet.
Her picture of hawking bottled and satchet water while holding on to her crutch got thousands of people emotional on social media recently.
Some Nigerians were moved by her resilient attitude and they have so far contributed their quota to empower the young lady.
Who is she and what’s her story?
Voice Your Stories tells you all you need to know about the amputee lady hawker who was not afraid to hustle to earn a living in spite of her impairedness.
Sharing her tear- jerking story in Saturday PUNCH, Mary Daniel revealed that she hails from Katsina State. In December 2006, Young Mary at age 10 , was involved in a fatal accident that claimed the lives of her parents. As the result of the unfortunate incident, her right leg got damaged, leaving her with only the left leg .
According to Mary, the incident did not deter her from furthering her education but life got more difficult and this led her dropping out of school in Junior Secondary School 3.
Mary’s quest to fend for herself and her aged grandmother made her start selling sachet water in the streets of Onitsha, Anambra State.
In her words, “I relocated to Onitsha (Anambra State) and started selling sachet water. I use the gains I make to feed myself and send some money to my grandmother in the village. She is over 70 years old and I don’t want hunger to kill her.”
In 2018, her fiancé got her pregnant but later dumped her. This traumatizing situation made her move to Delta State to start a new life.
“In 2018, grandma told me a man in the village wanted to marry me and she asked me to come home. While we were dating, I got pregnant but he denied being responsible for the pregnancy.
“Out of shame, I relocated to Asaba (Delta State) and continued hawking sachet water. I squatted with a woman from our village for some months before I rented an apartment.
“A car brushed my arm while I was hawking in traffic. I was heavily pregnant then. One man saw me bleeding and gave me N100,000. I used the money to rent a small apartment and bought some baby things. I gave birth in 2019.”
The amputee lady who is a mother of a two year old daughter actually came to Lagos two weeks ago to search for a better opportunity because of not having good sales in Asaba State.
“I decided to come to Lagos about two weeks ago because I was not selling well in Asaba. I sold my home appliances to raise the fare.
My daughter is with the woman I lived with in Asaba. She is now in Ayingba with my baby. My grandma didn’t know I am now in Lagos. Last week, I sent N8,000 to my grandma and I want to send N10,000 to her again this week. I am the only one taking care of her.
I met with a woman selling noodles and I explained my plight to her. She linked me up with one Alhaja from whom I buy packs of bottled water.
I buy a pack for N600 and make N240 gain. I sell six to eight packs per day and make a profit of N1,000 to N1,500. I save N500 daily. I want to send the money for the upkeep of my daughter at the end of the month, ” she narrated.
Defying the odds, the physically challenged lady decided to make ends meet by hitting the streets to earn a living. Mary noted that she hates begging and believes in catering for her welfare inspite of her circumstances.
“I don’t like begging because I believe I have the strength to work and cater for myself,” she declared. “I know I am not lazy and I took the decision not to beg. Some who are begging don’t even make as much as I do daily. Some people, out of pity, will gift me N1,000 or N2,000 after buying water from me.”
She added, “I wish to have a shop of my own so that I can have a better means to take care of my daughter and grandma. I used to have one artificial leg but it was painful whenever I wore it. So I decided to be using a crutch.”
However, the pathetic story of Mary Daniel has elicited emotions from some Nigerians who have gone out of their way to lend a helping hand to empower the young amputee lady.
So far, financial donations are dripping on her door step like the Former Chief of Staff, Imo State Government and President Ugwumba Centre for Leadership Development in Africa, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu donated One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) to enable her setup a store in Lagos.