Meet Iya Abbey - From sweeping Lagos streets to opening her own Restaurant because of You! #1960Woman

It was a very beautiful Wednesday morning and I was having the most incredible time, jogging. I was up early on this day and I'd had an argument with my Alsatian housemate Frankie, so I punished him by letting him stay home while I went out jogging.
Well not exactly. I just really wanted to be alone.
Halfway into my run, a goodmorning call traveled through the cold morning air towards me and I turned around to see who the sender was.
It was a small woman crouched over in the middle of the road, sweeping. I realized that I recognized her and I waved my hand frantically returning her warm greeting.

"You nor carry your dog follow body?" she inquired of me. A loud laugh rang out of my mouth, I didn't think anyone had a jogging image of Frankie and I in their heads. 
"I leave am for house oh!" I said laughing. She laughed too.
"Because na every morning I dey see una," She said, her smiling face following me as I began to jog slowly away. We said our goodbyes and I was off.
When I was done with my workout about 45 minutes later, I sat scrolling through my phone on the bench. 
I turned around to see her coming towards me, the look on her face told me she had a request even before she presented it verbally. 

"Ha madam!" I returned
"Ehnnnn I say make I tehh you say incase if you get anything for me to do, maybe say na to wash cloth or to sweep or clean anything sha, I dey do am." she said.
I blinked back the surprise in my eyes. She was small, but not young. Her skin was burnt from many days of working in the sun, wrinkles carressed her face in many swirling sweeps and her eyes bore a certain sorrow that was unmistakable.
I didn't have need for a helping hand at this time and so my thoughts didn't even ponder the possibility. Instead I wondered about her and what it was that made her do the things she did for work. I wanted to know so much about her and the curious little girl in my head would not pass on the opportunity. 
So I engaged her in a short-long conversation and here's a bit of what I found out that morning.

- Her name, Iya Abbey. She is from Kabba in Kogi state Nigeria.
- She sweeps the estate streets as her day job and when she is back home she sews clothes. Her salary every month? Much less than the minimum wage.
- She has 6 kids, one of them married and the others in various schools across Nigeria
- She also has exceptional skills in cleaning, washing clothes, tie and dye, knitting, cooking meals, etc and she engages herself in these services working for people in a desperate bid to make up for her other financial needs.

When we were done talking I told her I would see about her request, she thanked me and was on her way, leaving me sitting there on the bench with the image of her face imprinted in my mind as I pondered on our discussion. 
I thought of her a while and in less than 5 minutes I had made up my mind that I was going to profile her as a #1960Woman. 

"#1960Woman : An independent, self reliant woman who has to work several different jobs to keep body, soul and family together"

When I got home from jogging that morning, I placed a call through to her and asked her to come to my apartment. She appeared within minutes, changed and fresh from her work clothes, her eyes expectant of the job I had for her to do. 
What she didn't know was I was the one who had to do a job for her. The job? Give her an Eva makeover to brighten up her day and then share her incredibly touching story with the rest of the world.
While I did her makeup, I listened to her as she talked about her life, her struggles and her current situation.
Her journey through life has been one helluva ride and as she gives me a sneak peak in her world, she also opens my mind up to learn from her. 

Her biggest dream? To send her kids to school so they can lead better lives than she has. 

She says to me of one of her daughters who has to go back to school but is being delayed due to lack of funds;
"I still dey try to tell person to borrow me money make I dey pay you back small small. Make e go back to school. You know say i nor want make he continue like me i want make he read well well make he do fine. So that if they get better job dem go remember their mother, dem nor go let me die young."

When we were done with her makeup, she would not stop looking at her reflection in the mirror.
The smile that dressed her face after I was done with her makeup was absolutely invaluable! She wanted to take photo after photo of herself. It was beautiful to watch and what was even more beautiful was how very appreciative she was. Who knew Makeup could make a woman that happy? 

The following day, just a little after 9AM Frankie's frantic barking brought me back to the present as I had been engrossed in something I was doing. There was somebody at the gate. It was Iya Abbey. What do you know? I was just thinking about asking her to come around. I wanted to talk to her and really find out what her plans were and what she intended to do moving forward.
Her big smile greeted me as I opened the gate, she looked so radiant and so genuinely happy.
Telling me about her encounters with her neighbors from the day before, she said happily, 

"E say ha mummy you makeup? I say ehnnn! E say ha you never makeup like this before. I say One of my sister e do the work I dey help am. If anybody like am like this ask me if he like am I go carry you go there. Dem come dey laugh." 
And then she herself laughed at her story and I laughed too.
When pleasantries were over, I began a conversation, my tone changing up its pitch to suggest a more serious side of things.

Which kine work you go like do? You go like do the tailoring?
Ehnnn I like to do it. If to say Na catering also I go like to do it. No one wey i nor like

Like wetin? Cooking?

You wan get your own bukka?

You wan get your own bukka? Are you serious?
Ha I'm serious. I dey find place since say even though I see. That one go better pass the sweeping. Because my waist dey pain me.

Ehyaa pele. Sorry. So if you wan get your own buka where you go put am? For Akute?
Ha no oh. e nor go move for Akute.

E nor go move?
Ha e nor go move like that for Akute.

So you go dey cook food everyday?
Yes everyday.
Like wey you dey there so if anybody wan do something they go meet say whether you go help me cook oh.

So where you want put the bukka?
If to say Ikeja side. or Ketu or Ojota eheeenn the place wey people dey pass everyday. you know say no company for Akute just some people wey dey there just go work come back to sleep.
The place wey person can see place sell market na mechanic place and then, they nor dey get work well well. 
I don try all that one before, I been dey waka sell food that time. But dem go dey owe person, person no go fit buy another tin.

Ok so if you get the buka now you go dey do the buka dey still cook for people wey dey do party?
Ehnnn If I see.

Any of your pikin go follow you do the huka abi na only you?
I go find person. you know say all those ones dey go school. Only on holiday

You go do am oh. This your buka wey you wan do. You go do restaurant sef.
Ha I thank God. I thank God. I get bottle sef

Which one be bottle?
Mineral bottle. I go dey sell drink join.

Ooohhh ok ok.

This is a woman, like many other Nigerian women, much like my Mother, who have to do several different things at a time to survive and support their homes.
We live in a very tough economy and I have witnessed first hand how extra demanding it can get especially for women.
I am very interested in all the many inspiring stories from these women and I have taken it upon myself to share these women with you one after the other week after week.
I do believe in my heart that we all can help each other in our own capacity as we are led by the spirit.
It would be my pleasure to have you join me on this journey as I discover even more inspiring 1960Women all across Nigeria. 

But we do not just want to hear their stories, we want to be a part of their success story. Each of these women has dreams of her own, still rooted in her heart yearning to burst forth into the world. 
I implore you please to contribute what you can to make their dreams come true and help them lead better and more fulfilling lives.
It is a law of the universe, whatever you give, without grumbling or expecting a return, you get back, even a hundred fold. Giving is even more powerful when you give to someone who isn't expecting anything from you and cannot pay you back.

So if you will, please join me in raising funds for Iya Abbey to open up her own Bukka in the heart of Lagos. I am asking everyone to pay in as little as N500 into her account

First Bank of Nigeria - 'Acc No' 3043336105 - Mathew Rebecca Ibiyemi

If your spirit leads you to give more, please do by all means.
I would be praying for each of you donating to this cause. And please know that it is ok if you have nothing to share with Iya Abbey, but can you pray for her? Send your love to her through time and space and the goodness of the Lord would be upon you as you do so.

Our team of experts would be offering financial and business start up advice to Iya Abbey as your contributions come in. I am excitedly looking forward to seeing the manifestation of this dream, as you all help take Iya Abbey from sweeping streets to opening her own mini restaurant in Jesus Christ name. 
Thanks guys! God bless you.


  1. This is very kind of you, God bless you eva, i'm gonna be part of this by God's grace. I'm so inspired by this, and may the goodness in your heart never cease.

    1. Ella!! Thank you so much for your comment and contribution! May the good Lord bless you lots as you join. Amen

    2. Eva I promise to pay to her acct next week the Lil way I can....I love what u re doing keep it up.....God bless u

  2. Henry Chukwudum20 May 2015 at 01:04

    Woooow I ll get something from me madam... sometime I just feel and wish I could gather all those in need from all over the world and put a smile on their faces .... I believe with hard work, This dream will come to pass..

    @ievaalordiah may God bigger your returns... I remain a big fan of urs.. u can follow back on instagram @mr___mystic it ll make my year. tnkz

    1. Henry I pray God blesses you and enriches your life so you can do the same for others. Thank you so much. Would follow on Instagram as requested!

    2. Henry Chukwudum7 June 2015 at 16:43

      Its my pleasure... welcome
      Still waiting on Instagram

  3. Wow. Sis eva i will definitely support dis movement and also expect sometin nice from me very soon on instagram cos truth is that u deserve evry good thing life has to offer...ur a wonderful lady...God Bless u..

    1. Thank you so much Kenny. You deserve everything good and more. God bless you too!


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