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I was 10 when I started working as housemaid, says woman who wanted to be a nurse

As the sun rises, casting a golden hue over the market, Mrs. Precious John deftly navigates the bustling crowd, engaging customers with a warm smile. She understands that her success hinges not only on the quality of her palm oil but also on the genuine relationship she builds with her customers.

Behind the scenes, she labours tirelessly, and every drop of sweat that trickles down her brow represents the sacrifices she willingly makes to provide for her family.

Today, Iya Magazine will be sharing the struggles and successes of this strong woman.

Early life
Mrs. Precious John was born over four decades ago in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. She is the fifth child in a family of six. She grew up in a humble background. Her father was a farmer, and her mother was a petty trader. She said that her parents were very loving and kind. However, they couldn’t offer her the best because they were very poor.

While growing up, my dream was to become a nurse. However, since I couldn’t complete my education, I decided to pursue a career in fashion and design

Education
The first school Mrs. Precious attended was State School in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. After she completed her primary education, her parents sent her to work as a housemaid.

She was 10 years old when she started living with another family. Sadly, her guardian refused to enroll her in a secondary school. So, when her elder brother heard about it, he brought her back to the village. After returning to her parents, she still couldn’t further her education; instead, she was assisting her parents in their trading business. At some point, she left for Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to learn a vocational skill.

The tailoring business
While growing up, Precious said her dream was to become a nurse. However, since she couldn’t complete her education, she decided to pursue a career in fashion and design. After investing two years to learn the skill, her elder brother bought her a sewing machine, and she started a tailoring business.

I took a loan to support my business but the interest rate was very high. So, I stopped

“I used to sew clothes at the front of our house in the village. I had a few customers because most of the villagers were struggling to feed themselves. So, patronising tailors wasn’t their top priority. It was only during the festive season that I had more orders.

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“Meanwhile, by then, my parents were already old, and I needed to support them financially. So, I moved to Port Harcourt, where I got a job as a seamstress. My boss was very nice. She allowed me to live with her, and she was paying me N1,000 naira monthly. I worked for her for five years before I left.

“Then I got another job as a cleaner at a medical centre in Woji, Port Harcourt. I worked there for seven years before resigning. Do you want to know why I resigned? Okay, I will tell you.

“I am a born-again Christian. So, when I started working there, I told them that I wouldn’t be involved in any practice that was against my faith. So, for many years, abortion was prohibited in the hospital.

“However, a time came when the organisation employed some new doctors who began to do abortions secretly. As the cleaner, I was always ordered to clean up the bloody mess. I wasn’t comfortable with that, and I couldn’t even report it to the authorities. So, I just decided to resign from the job.

“After I left, I used my savings to rent a shop in Port Harcourt and continued my tailoring business. Thankfully, God prospered the work of my hand, and I was living a happy and comfortable life.”

I have many customers, but the only challenge I’m having is that the demand for palm oil is always higher than the supply

Marriage
Precious got married in 2008, and she is blessed with four children. She said that when she met her husband, he had a good job, and together they were raising their kids comfortably. Later on, he lost his job, and things became very difficult for the family.

“After my husband lost his job, I started struggling to take care of the family. As a tailor, there were days I didn’t get one naira even after spending the whole day at the shop. I used to plead with some customers to pay for their clothes. After considering all the challenges of the business, I decided to start something else.

“The first thing I tried was to sell palm oil. I buy the oil in Akwa Ibom State and sell them in Port Harcourt. Initially, I was buying in large quantities and reselling in gallons. I did that for three years before I used part of my capital to sort out a financial issue at home. Although I’m still doing the palm oil business, the difference now is that I’m buying and selling in smaller quantities.”

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Challenges
Precious said she has been selling palm oil for over seven years. Although the business has its ups and downs, she has decided to keep pushing until she gets to the brighter side of life.

“I have many customers, but the only challenge I’m having is that the demand for palm oil is always higher than the supply. At a point, I took a loan to support the business but the interest rate was very high. So, I stopped.

“I’m proud to say that I’m one of those women who work very hard day and night. I don’t stay idle and expect my husband to carry all the family responsibilities. In fact, when he lost his job, I stood by him until God provided another one.

“My children are my biggest motivation, and I’m hoping to provide them a better life. We have been through thick and thin together, and I’m believing that one day, all our prayers will be answered.”

you don’t have to navigate through tough times alone. Reach out to someone who can provide a listening ear, guidance, support

Final word
When Iya Magazine asked her to leave a word of advice for women, she said:
“Life can throw unexpected challenges your way, but remember that difficult times can serve as catalysts for growth and transformation. You have an innate strength, therefore, believe in your ability to overcome obstacles.

“While you are still hoping for better days, learn to be kind and gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your emotions, allow yourself to feel them, and give yourself the space and time to heal.

“Finally, you don’t have to navigate through tough times alone. Reach out to someone who can provide a listening ear, guidance, support or encouragement. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

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