Uncommon Courage: The Story of a Young Resilient OVC Caregiver
As early as 6.am every morning, Nnenna can be seen by the roadside of Marian Street, in Calabar town of Cross River State, frying buns to sell to people who are out early to catch a bus to work or drop off their children in school.
Nnenna Awa is 25 years old and had always dreamt of studying Marketing in the university. Life however had something else in store for her. At the tender age of fifteen (15) years, she lost her parents and was left with the burden of caring for her younger siblings. Through it all, she never lost her warm and caring disposition. She always had a smile for everyone who came her way.
She tells of her experience after the death of their parents – “I had to drop out of school and started selling palm oil to put food on the table. It was not easy. Keeping the roof over our heads and feeding was challenging. I could not cope with paying school levies for my siblings. We were depending on the little proceeds from my father’s cassava and yam farm in addition to selling palm oil”.
In June 2012, the USAID funded SIDHAS project enrolled Nnenna’s three siblings as part of the project’s support for vulnerable children to access a package of care in health, education, nutrition, and other psychosocial services. Nnenna was selected to be part of the capacity building for caregivers on entrepreneurial and vocational skills to reduce the economic burden on families of care givers and empower them to provide for the essential needs of children in their care.
“I have always seen women making cake and buns, and wished I could do the same. I was happy when I was nominated to go for training. We were taught how to make buns and cake and also to keep proper accounts of sales made.”
Nnenna now runs a small business selling buns. She says…..“Every day when I make sales, I remove my profit of N700 daily and put into my daily contribution and I have been able to use this to start a recharge card business. The training has helped me to cater for my siblings in terms of feeding, clothing and minor levies in school. I thank God for the opportunity to be trained on how to make buns. I will like to encourage other members of the cooperative to be more serious as the business is of great help to my family now.”
The SIDHAS project has so far trained and provided business start-up grants for 119 caregivers through their cooperatives in Cross River state alone. This is part of ongoing support in 15 other states in Nigeria by the USAID funded SIDHAS project to reduce the burden faced by orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Nigeria.