Now that Ebola is winding down and school is said to be opening pretty soon, the greatest worry for many parents is how their children’s school fees will be paid.
But not eighteen-year old Bendu, who has been selling for the past five years anything from sticks of chewing gum to the toiletries she finds herself selling today.
“My education is a priority to me because my parents were never educated and I don’t want to be like that,” she said.
It has been a long hustle for Bendu. From the tender age of 10 years old, she lived with her aunt, who quite recently put her out because of her behavior.
“She thought that I was involved with men including her husband, but that s a lie, I could never do that,” she defended.
According to Bendu, eight years ago, her aunt occupied her with selling cooked rice. But when that business declined, they started selling milk candy. The milk candy business helped them generate up to $5.00 a day, though they made triple that amount when selling cooked rice.
“I would walk for miles selling milk candy and would have to endure a lot of pressure for men as well as my aunt who wanted me to forget about the fun stuff and just focus on selling,” she added.
Bendu says her fair complexion and shape, which many men described as ‘beautiful’, could have easily distracted her if she was not focused.
“They wanted me and would buy me things and try all kinds of persuasion to get me interested in them. But I stayed focused and just kept on selling,” she says.
Waking up early in the morning to prepare the candy normally took hours, and also making it to school on time became a daily routine for Bendu, and she did it for over three years.
Unfortunately, her aunt drove her away from the house leaving Bendu without security for a short period.
“I was staying with friends until I realized that I couldn’t live like that and ended up going to my grandmother. I first asked her for forgiveness, which she accepted, and then told her what really happened in my aunt’s house. She allowed me to stay with her,” she said.
That was over a year ago. Continuing with the same milk candy business and targeting those who always brought candy from her before, Bendu was able to generate up to $50.00USD.
“I used $3,000 LD to buy what I am selling now, tissue, soap, tide soap, toothpaste and occasionally body sprays, which is the best market in my life,” she exclaimed. “Though I push it around in my wheel barrow, this is the market everyone dreams of selling,” she says.
Also, Bendu says her wares, which she used to carry it in a pale on her head, are heavy. She was able to afford $20 USD to buy a wheel barrow, which she says allows her to peddle more at a time.
“I don’t push it around much now, just park it at a location where I can stand and wait for people to buy. On a good day I generate up to $800.00LD a day and, on a slow day, maybe $300.00LD.
Meanwhile, Bendu says she isn’t worried about paying her school fees when school opens because she has worked hard through the Ebola outbreak and has enough to attend.
“I’m happy I don’t have to beg for school fees or sleep with men for it neither. I thank God that my aunt at least taught me responsibility and I look forward to going back to school.”