Among the ladies that ran for dear life from the cow, was Felicia, who happened to be 6-months pregnant, but engaged in meat-carrying, but moving deftly.
What a husband can’t do…
Felicia told Weekly Trust that she has been in the meat-carrying business for a very long time and it has become a part of her. “Since I was a little girl, I have been in this business and even got married and I’m still in the business and will continue to be in it for a long time to come, because this is the only way I can earn a reasonable livelihood without having to depend on anybody for my needs.”
Felicia added: “This is a job that I met my mother and grandmother doing.” As for the stress and hazard involved in the business, when asked by this reporter, citing an example with the cows that went wild, she said danger was part of their lifestyle. “We are already used to it. We are always on alert as we know that a cow can go wild and the best thing for us is to run. It is also kind of fun to see everybody running up and down and screaming,” she said, smiling.
“As for the matter of stress, this is the job that I use to train my kids as my husband is not that buoyant to sponsor the kids to school. Most times he just says that he does not have money and in such a situation what am I expected to do? I have to try my best to make sure that the kids get food and go to school. If I am not educated it does not mean that my children should not be educated too.”
“Not the best, but better than none”
“I have two children and expecting a third one,” Felicia said, pointing to her round, pregnant belly. “I come here very early and go back home late because we have a lot of work to do here. If we are not carrying meat, we are fetching water for the butchers to use in washing as they slaughter. Sometimes we wash the butchers’ uniforms. As you can see, everybody here has a uniform, including myself, so it is our responsibility that these uniforms are kept clean. To me, it is better than having to beg on the street,” she says.
The working environment is not free of negative trends as an inside source at the abattoir claimed that some of the women are sexually exploited. But Felicia said while there is no occupation in this world that does not have a negative side, people will definitely say bad things about anything. “It is quite true that some of the women and children sleep with men out of greed,” she said, adding: “But some of us still have dignity and cannot even dream of such.”
“This job is the only job that I think that I can do. Some major concerns, though, are the roads here, which are very bad. Whenever it rains, it becomes a problem, as when we carry meat we have to be very careful. If not, we end up falling due to the ground’s slippery nature’. I cannot count the number of times I or my colleges, have fallen,” Felicia said.” She also said the abattoir management is generally good to the female meat-carriers.
Felicia begged for compassion from others. “When most people come around to buy meat they look down on us and treat us like we are from another world. We are human beings, too. It’s as if they don’t realise that. I firmly believe that there is dignity in labour,” she said with pride, as she picked up her empty basin to go back to work.