I am Idowu Peters and I am over 80 years old. I am very grateful to have made it this far in life; I know there are many people who live to 80 and above, but life has been unkind. Life has taken away those that I loved who were so much younger, so when I say I am grateful it is because I know each year I am given is a blessing from God. I was blessed with seven children but the struggles of life took three of them from me. There is nothing more devastating than for a mother to bury the one whom she gave life to. No parent wants to outlive his or her children, that is not the natural order of life. I pray that the Almighty God continues to keep and support the four that are still alive. They are the ones who now provide for me in any little way that they can.
In my younger days I used to be a caterer, and I made a decent living from it. Unfortunately, my life took a turn when Maroko was demolished and I became displaced. My only option was to settle in Jakande and start the process of piecing my life back together again. I continued my catering business, but as I grew older, it became increasingly difficult to manage its physical demands. Without a daily income, a life that was already a struggle becomes excruciatingly difficult.
In spite of my old age and frail body, it’s still necessary for me to maintain a means of livelihood. So now, I sell water. I bought three water tanks to kick start my water-selling business however when one of my children fell ill, I had to travel to the village to care for her. Sadly, I lost that daughter and had to pull through the harrowing pain of her loss, only to return to Lagos to find that someone had stolen two of my tanks. You can’t imagine my frustration and anger at being short-changed on a business that was barely making a profit. Luckily, someone kind gifted me with another tank, although it had a leak that needed to be patched. With two tanks I am still able to trade but I am unable to make as much as I did when I had three. But in all things the bible says we must give thanks. On a day to day basis I make an average profit of N1,000 and spend about N500 looking after myself and the family. I don’t need to tell you that in this economy, N500 does next to nothing.
I am solely responsible for meeting the needs of my grandchildren who have lost their parents. Who else will care for them? I am grateful that they are getting an education, and thankfully, as a community we are supportive of one another. We have local churches and charities that also support us. To a large degree we depend on them for feeding and sometimes clothing. During the pandemic, they were a godsend.
When I relocated to Jakande, the Government had no relief program for the displaced, I had been lucky to come across a benevolent man who gave up a space in his home for me to live in. I was basically given his living room to live in out of pity. Still, it is home and has become something of a family house. It’s my grandchildren that live here with me now. Three of my children are married and in their own homes. The grandchildren living with me are 20, 12, 11, and 9 years old. They are my pride and joy, although Rasaki, my 20-year-old grandchild is mute.
My benefactor who gave us this space in his house following the Maroko demolition recently passed on. I am quite distraught by this news as I do not know what decision his family will make regarding our free tenancy. Are they going to send us packing? We really do not know what the future holds but I certainly trust in God’s never-ending provision.
Whatever the case, I am grateful for the kindness of people, the church and charities as it’s their kindness that has seen me through what has been an extremely difficult life.