My name is Amaka Felix. I am 17 years old and I live with my mother and 3 sisters – Amarachi, Susannah, and Christy – in Jahi. I am the first born. My father left us about 7 years ago after he married another woman and moved to Ondo State. Since then my mother has been working hard to care for me and my sisters. Although life has been very difficult, my mother has never stopped doing petty business of selling Akara and Potatoes in the morning at the Kadokuchi market. She also sells firewood in the day time near our house. I and my sisters help our mother to sell her business whenever we return from school.
My mother always did her small business... It was from this store that my mother raised the money to feed the family, pay for our school fees, buy us clothes and also pay the house rent.
My mother used to be the one that worked very hard to keep our family even when my father was around. My father used to travel a lot driving a big bus for a transport company called ABC in Abuja, but he never gave my mother money for food or for buying us new clothes or paying school fees. My mother always did her small business running a provisions store with lots of people coming to buy things from her. It was from this store that my mother raised the money to feed the family, pay for our school fees, buy us clothes and also pay the house rent.
It was on a Sunday morning when I and my sisters left for church with our mother that my father came to the house from one of his trips and took so many things from the house and left us. He took all the electronics, bedsheets, the bed and mattress that my mother bought and the carpets in the bedroom and living room, and also took my mother’s savings which she put in the wedding box her mother gave her. When we returned from church, our neighbours told us that my father came with a big bus and took things out of the house and told them that we were moving away to Ondo and that they helped him pack the things into the bus. We were shocked and confused at this, since my mother knew nothing about it.
During this time we hardly had enough food to eat, but some people from the church were kind to us and brought us food and gifts of clothes and mattress.
That very day my mother made all efforts to get in touch with my father but to no avail. She went to his work place but she was told that he resigned from there two months ago, and he never mentioned it to my mother. The next day she travelled Enugu to see his family members and friends but no one knew anything or where he was. The following weeks and months became very difficult for us as a family. My mother was very sad and didn’t know what to do or how she was going to cope with the embarrassment of what happened.
Rumours began to spread in the community that my father left with another woman who was pregnant for him and that he has been with the woman for over two years. This devastated my mother, especially as she was a women’s leader in the local ECWA church and well known and respected in the community as a very resourceful and kind woman. During this time we hardly had enough food to eat, but some people from the church were kind to us and brought us food and gifts of clothes and mattress. However we couldn’t go to school because my mother had no money, until one of the widows in the community that my mother used to help introduced her to ADVANCE.
I was very happy that they came to visit us and asked us our names and said they would come and visit again the following Monday.
When the people from ADVANCE organized an outreach programme in Jahi, the widow, Mama Augustine, brought my mother to the event and introduced her to Mr Billy and Mrs Linda. This introduction and meeting was the turning point in our lives. Mr Billy and Mrs Linda listened to my mother’s story and followed her to know where we were living. That day they visited us and spent some time with us before the left. I was very happy that they came to visit us and asked us our names and said they would come and visit again the following Monday. From this point on our lives became better.
ADVANCE gave me and my sisters hope of going to school and to someday achieve our dreams and goals in the future. They enrolled us in school in Jabi, bought us new uniforms, paid all our fees and enrolled me in a holiday Computer classes. They also kept visiting us, telling us about Jesus and praying with us. They bought us new mattresses and gave us mosquito nets, and helped my mother start her business again, paid for a shop and gave her money to buy the materials for the shop. We now have nutritious food three times a day and are happy going to school. They also helped us stay together as a family by helping my mother make the choice of keeping us with her when some of our distant relatives came to ask her to let them take me and Amarachi to live with them in Kaduna and Lagos.
I would like to thank ADVANCE for coming to help our family. I am grateful to God for bringing ADVANCE to help my mother and my sisters out of a terrible life. I pray that in the future I will be able to help others who are going through the same situation as my family. I encourage everyone out there who feels that hope is lost and they won’t get better in the future. Just trust in Jesus Christ and don’t give up your dream, because God will always bring opportunities your way and give you many chances in life. With God all things are possible. AProviding sustainable livelihoods is key to achieving ADVANCE's mission. We base our interventions to the extent possible on empowering women for the hope of the family. Our staff and volunteers work with individuals and families to offer positive, forward-looking options that respects and empowers families as architects of their own standard or living and quality of life.