Saturday, July 27, 2013

What I noticed while I volunteered at a training programme in Makoko

I will start off by saying that I am strong-minded about one too many things especially things that have to do with poverty.

Earlier today, I was in a place called Makoko (picture above), you might have heard about it on CNN when Errol Barnett visited it on a special episode of Inside Africa. To clear your mind about something, no, I did not get in a canoe and no, I wasn't on a house above the water, I was in a house right behind the houses on the water (like after the building I was in, was water with the houses above on it).

From the picture, you can guess that at least 99% of the people living in Makoko live in poverty. And it irritates me so much to know that those people live in poverty and yet, they waste their money on things like relaxers! Yes!

The women and quite a number of the kids there all had their hair relaxed and I was like, "what on earth?!?!" You are finding it hard to feed, to clothe....and you are wasting the little money you have on something like a relaxer. For what?

Relaxers are not cheap! They're about what? N1000 (about £4) per pack for the cheaper ones (which contain more sodium hydroxide - harmful!). You can go to a restaurant and buy something elegant, though simple for N1000, you can buy a bunch of plantains around that area for N1000 (and that plantain can last quite a long time and you can feed your family with it), you can buy raw materials for making pastries or getting other things that you can sell and make even more money with that N1000. They spend it on a relaxer. That's wise.

People relax their hair like what? every 6 weeks. Okay! so, that's N1000 every six weeks (by the way, the 'N' stands for 'Naira' - the currency used here). There are 52.1775 weeks in a year. So, if you get a relaxer every six weeks, that's 8.69625 relaxers, but we can't use a decimal amount so, we'll say 8 to 9 relaxers a year and that's how much? N8000 naira. Now, what can you buy with that N8000?  A used Blackberry Curve (that works perfectly), a Stella Morgan blazer/dress, AX Paris dress, something from Forever21, ANNA tank tops, an item of clothing from cetera. N8000 is about £32. I bought something from Etsy in June that cost just £18 pounds (international shipping included). So, you can buy more than 1 thing from Etsy and get it shipped down here for that N8000. By the way, N8000 is about $49.77. Think of what you can get in the United States with that. Okay! moving away from luxury goods. You don't have to get international or designer stuff with the N8000. You can get locally made clothes and get a whole lot of change. I once paid just N100 to get a skirt made for me here. So, that money can get you about 80 skirts. You can get loads of raw materials to cook with and those resources can last for months!

You're living in poverty and you spend that much money on a relaxer instead of embracing your God-given, beautiful hair? Wise. Okay! So, you save N8000 a year if you don't get a relaxer, in 2 years, you save N16000, in three years, N24000, in four years N32000. I'm sure N8000 can pay the rent for a while, if you have to pay rent in Makoko (I don't know). N40000 (not buying a relaxer for 5 years) can pay the rent in a better part of the mainland. You have a baby, the baby stays at home till he/she is at least a year old (I don't know about you or your kids readers, but I started school (pre-school) at the age of 1). During that time your baby is at home, from not spending your money on relaxers, you save at least N8000 and you can use that to send your kid to an okay-enough (not so good, though), school once the kid is of age. That's better than the kid sitting at home or running around in dirt and filth watching crime and a whole lot of other things.

It just irritates me that I was born into a very different life than theirs. Our worlds are like on two separate spectrums yet, I can think of this and they can't?

The next time, I hear someone say, "I don't have money," or "the money isn't coming," or "please give me money" in this country and I see a relaxer in their hair (relaxed hair), I am going to be so pissed.

Save your money, boo!

No comments:

Post a Comment