Escaping poverty on the back of a chicken
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
In the dusty Nigerian village of Nwangele, a 13-year-old girl, Eziuche Chimdi, has escaped a life of oppression. She has only one tool – a chicken.
Her life could easily have been very different. Poverty and traditional values dictate the lives of many young girls who will be forced to become child brides. 40 per cent of girls in Nigeria are married by the age of 15, and marriage puts an end to education. Once wedded, she will be subject to a life of servitude as the second or third wife to a man more than twice her age. Disobedience results in violence and young girls are sexually vulnerable and susceptible to HIV/AIDS – the biggest killer of women in Nigeria.
Eziuche was one of the lucky ones – she received an education. Nearly half of the women in rural villages like hers have no education, no prospects and no hope.
Eziuche borrowed money to buy her chicken, and now her family do not go hungry. She makes $30 a week selling eggs in her village, enough to feed a family of four. This modest income is enough to let her build a future.
Nigeria’s tragedy is wasted potential and poverty in the midst of plenty. The former British colony is Africa’s leading oil producer and one of the continent’s richest and most developed countries. In the main towns and cities, there are roads, electricity and running water. But wealth is unevenly distributed and life is hard for 70 per cent of the population that live in villages, like Eziuche’s, where water, electricity, roads and healthcare are scarce.