Arewa Voice

July 1, 2022

Meet Helen Yakubu: The Kebbi woman who rivals men in laundry work

By Haruna Aliyu, Birnin Kebbi

SHE  does not shy away from the job, which feeds her and her sibling despite the fact that the work is considered odd and reserved for the menfolk. Helen Yakubu, who is in her early 20s is not afraid to introduce herself as a laundry worker and does not hide the fact that she is happy to wash clothes and iron them for their owners at agreed fee. Perhaps, to prove how happy she is with the masculine chore, she is fond of chorusing the refrain “what a man can do, a woman can do even better”. 

A native of Zuru in Kebbi State, Helen began testing the waters of laundry in February this year and has never looked back since landing the first cash payment from the trade. She started on a sad note, however, after taking to laundry work following the death of her uncle last year who was sponsoring her in school but she is gradually beginning to sing her success story. 

From a humble beginning, Helen now earns N7000 where she works as a manager of a laundry shop while combining the work with her studies as a student of Public Administration at the Waziri Umaru Polytechnic in Bernin Kebbi, where she hopes to earn a National Diploma certificate eventually and possibly venture into something more dignifying. 

Helen takes the job with a sense of seriousness because she is aware of the enormity of financial pressure that comes with her having come from a large family of eight and being the only one who is going to school and having to cater for some of her siblings at the same time. 

“I must confess that as the senior in my family I have to struggle to fend not only for myself but my siblings; we have been staying with our foster parents since the demise of our parents. Indeed, life has been very tough with us in the city, while those in the village are struggling and unable to go to school due to financial challenge.

“I have to take to this laundry work just to be able to meet up with the payment of my school fees and take care of myself and others who depend on me for their survival,” she confessed to Arewa Voice. But one thing is that I am not going to give up the job, even though some of my colleagues often deride and mock me for being a laundry worker, something that is best cut out for men,” she said. 

Although her childhood ambition was to become a public administrator, hardship and various challenges, including the untimely death of her father, have combined to stall her dream job, but she is not giving up just yet. 

“I will continue to do my best to get through school and possibly take up a better job and still see how best to meet my desire in life and ensure that our family lineage is not extinguished,” the laundry worker stated. 

But she says she has been having some challenges from her male customers since she is a single lady, vowing however to keep her head above the water and never to give in to any temptation while pursuing the laundering business.

“I am not ashamed to do this odd job and I tell my fellow students to join me to do it instead of moving from one person to the other begging for financial assistance,” Helen said.