Working Lives

Working Lives: The Female Tiler Who Wants a More Feminine Job

If you look around, you will see a lot of female drivers, transporting passengers from one destination to another. These were jobs mostly done by men in the past. What do you think motivated them to take up these jobs? It’s simply because of the high cost of living in the country. “

 What is your name?

My name is Mrs Sekoni Maria. I am from Akoko-North-East L.G.A., Ondo State.

Tell us about your family.

I got married at the age of 24 to my husband, Mr Sekoni Olufemi. Our marriage is blessed with two lovely boys, ages 6 and 9. My husband works in a sawmill and I am a teacher. I worked in a nursery school close to my house. My children attended the same school so my salary was was N15,000:00 served as part-payment for their fees. Their school fees combined was less than N25,000:00.

Also Read: Working Lives: The 35 Year-Old Affidavit Agent Who Wants to Japa To Canada

Tell us about your educational background.

I was born and brought up in Ondo state. I attended Abadara Community Primary School and A.U.D. Grammar School, Ikare-Akoko. After I graduated from secondary school, I couldn’t further my education due to financial constraints. So, my parents told me to join my sister in the city. She was into fishing. She buys large quantities of fish from fishermen in Makoko and resells them in the market. I assisted her in the business until I met my husband who was also living in the area. He was one of our customers. We fell in love with each other and today, we’re happily married.

Where do you live and how much is your rent?

I live in a one-room apartment in Makoko with my husband. Our house rent is N3,500:00 monthly. It’s this cheap because it’s situated close to the river. Many people stay away from this place and other houses are even cheaper because it’s susceptible to flooding.

How did you start this job?

I was in school one day teaching my pupils when a fellow colleague informed me about a tiling training organized by Lafarge. Initially, I thought it was for males only. But when I got further information that it was a free programme for females, I quickly informed my husband about it. I told him I was interested in the training and he supported my decision. That’s how I got enrolled on the training.

I am willing to do anything to support my family as long as it’s legit.  If it’s illegal or would bring shame to my family, I stay away from it.  As the saying goes, “what a man can do, a woman can do better”. I’ve been able to prove that and there’s no shame in labour.

Why did you decide to be a Tiler?

I decided to go for this training because I want to work alongside my husband. I want to be a supportive wife, and being a tiler affords me that. I can also gain the support of his colleagues at work whenever he refers me and my services to them. Who knows? Some of his customers may need the services of a tiler and my husband can refer me to them thereby giving me more clients. I may even be able to recommend them to sellers of planks and roofing materials.

I also want to be able to take care of my children. They need proper care, and that can only be possible when both parents are working. The responsibility of providing for the family shouldn’t be restricted to one person, especially with the high cost of living in Nigeria today. I love my husband and I don’t want him to die prematurely just because he is working hard to put food on our table. That’s why I chose to take up a skill and work to support him.

How long have you been a Tiler?

I am new in the business.

What prompted your decision to be a tiler?

The high cost of living in the country gave me the push to become a tiler. I refuse to fold my hands and watch my children die of starvation or get sent out of school because we can’t afford to pay their school fees.

Also Read: The Civil Servant Who Uses His Son as a Conductor

The second reason is that I have been desperately in need of a skill.  I wanted something I could do with my hands so I could work at my own pace. I didn’t want to work under an employer or receive peanuts as my salary every month-end. So, when this golden opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it immediately.

If you look around, you will see a lot of female drivers, transporting passengers from one destination to another. These were jobs mostly done by men in the past. What do you think motivated them to take up these jobs? It’s simply because of the high cost of living in the country.

How much do you charge?

It depends on the size of the house and the number of rooms that need tiling. The space determines the price I give to my clients but I charge N450:00 per square meter.

How long does it take to become a tiler?

It doesn’t take much time to learn how to tile. It is just about levelling the ground with sand and cement and then laying the tiles. The only thing you need to give much attention to is understanding the different patterns and designs of tiles. You also need to learn how to lay it properly. In a few months, you must have gotten all the basics.

However, this also depends on how fast you learn. Another thing you’d learn in tiling is knowing how many tiles can fit into a given space.

How many hours do you work in a day?

I can’t give a specific number because our work does not have a fixed time for resumption or closing. The number of hours you work depends on the quantity of work you have to do. If I have to tile a room, I finish early. When I have to tile an entire house of 4 to 5 rooms, I may finish late or continue into the next day.

On average, how much do you earn daily?

It depends on the job I am doing. We negotiate based on square meters.

If the tables were turned, would you still be a tiler or would you wish to do something else?

If I am given another opportunity, I would prefer to do something more feminine like nursing or catering. There are so many skills for women to learn. The reason why I say this is because when I tell people what I do for a living, they don’t really trust that I can do the job because I’m a woman.

They believe it’s a man’s job. That’s one challenge that comes with being a female tiler. It’s why I would to try another line of business if given the opportunity.

People argue that tiling is hard due to the mixing of sand and cement, what can you say about it?

That’s true. Besides mixing cement, the tiles are also heavy to carry. If you lift a box or carton of tiles, you would understand what I mean. It’s similar to carrying a bag of cement. Aside from that, no job is easy. Nothing in life comes so easy, especially when money is involved. White-collar jobs are not easy as well.

How can the government improve in this line of business?

There is nothing the government can do in this regard. Not everything concerns the government.  They may even spoil the business for us if we involve them.

Also Read: The Bar Woman Who Started her Bar with N7,000 and now Earns N35,000 daily

Instead, we need the government to attend to other needs. They should provide good roads, water, electricity and hospitals for citizens. They haven’t done that yet, making life unbearable for poor Nigerians. That’s why almost everyone is aiming to travel out of the country; they want a better system.

So, we don’t need the government here. Instead, they should fulfil their promises to the masses. We both know we won’t even do that because of greed.

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