IMAGINE a family of 25 people, living in one house, and selling firewood for survival!
That’s exactly what Clara Phiri, of Lusaka’s Ng’ombe Township, and her 24 siblings literally do. The live on selling firewood and are happy with their business. The Sun caught up with Ms. Phiri and the following was our interview with her:
THE SUN: Tell us about your business is and when you started it?
CLARA: Tinayamba business iyi ya nkuni mu 2000 kuti izi tandizila kupeleka bana ku sukulu. Tikwanisa kudyesa bana mu nkuni nakubapeleka ku sukulu.
(We live in Ng’ombe. We started this business of selling firewood in 2000 in order to raise money for food and for our children’s school fees. As you can see, we are able to raise enough to look after ourselves and we are comfortable.)
THE SUN: How is the business currently performing?
CLARA: Business iyi Ili nama seasons yamane zimayenda maningi. Monga mwamene mwazionela izi so ngati ni season yamene zimayenda ngati mwapeza palibe apa.
Tima order olo ma canter yatatu. Olo ngati pali malilo pa neighbour, babwela kuti gula. (The business is seasonal. Sometimes the sale are good and sometimes they are slow. But the business really booms when it is at its peak, and we are able to order as much as three Toyota canter truckloads. Our neighbours buy from us a lot especially when they have funerals).
THE SUN: How much do you sell your firewood?
CLARA: Tipima, pali zing’ono zing’ono pali K30, and zikulu zikulu timapima K40 per heap. Ngati nibaja bamene balibe ndalama, timaba choselako. (We sell the firewood according to size. We sell the smaller pieces at K30 and the bigger pieces at K40. But we also give a discount if someone complains)
THE SUN: Where do you order the firewood from?
CLARA: Sometimes kumabwela bantu botiuza ati pa yadi paso paliko nkuni mungaode. Then tizakamba nabo nakusakila motoka yotenga zija nkuni. (People will usually come to tell us there is some firewood lying about at certain premises. We will go and talk to the owners, buy it and organise transport to bring it here.)
THE SUN: How much profit do you make from the business?
CLARA: Profit iliko bwino. Ni draw draw. Ngati wa order za K500, profit ni K500. (The profit is quite good. When you order firewood for K500, you also make a profit of K500).
THE SUN: Is this your personal business?
CLARA: Ni family business, tipasana ma chance. Uyu aza order ko then winangu. Kaili pano pali bana bambili, so timatandizana kulipilira bana ku sukulu. (This is a family business. We give one another chance to order and sell. We also assist one another in paying school fees for our children since we have many school going children)
THE SUN: How many children do you support in school?
CLARA: Bana bali kusukulu bali 4, mu grade 11, grade 8, grade 4 na grade 2. Benangu sibayenda kusukulu chifukwa cha sponsorship. (We support 4 children in school but others do not attend school because of lack of sponsorship).
THE SUN: How many rooms does your house have?
CLARA: Ilina nama room 10. (Our house has 10 rooms).
THE SUN: Are you married?
CLARA: Yes I am kabili ndi nabana batatu. (Yes I am and I have three children).
THE SUN: Does your husband work?
CLARA: Yes he does.
THE SUN: How many people do you live with?
CLARA: Bonse tilipo 25. Kuli bokwatiliwa nabosakwatiliwa so chabe. (We are 25 altogether. Some are married and others are not)
THE SUN: How do you survive as a family of 25 people living together under one roof?
CLARA: Tinkala monga mu Zee World. Penangu timatengako ma piece work ku church then ndalama taika pamodzi. Timagula 5 bags of 25kgs of mealie meal muli one month. So apa ba head of the house, ba mai bali ku Soweto Market kugulisa. (We live like in Zee World. We sometimes do piecework at church and put our monies together. We use about five 25kg bags of mealie meal per month. Our mother, who is head of our house, also sells at Soweto Market.)
THE SUN: What could be your words of encouragement to other people out there?
CLARA: Chamane ninga kambeko, bantu bazisakilako tuntu tochitako. Bantu kudala benzo Kamba ati vinkuni vimaipisa pa nyumba but osanvelela bantu nikulimba chabe kuti usunge bana. Ufunika wankalako naka business. So bonse bamene simuchita business munga yambe kalikonse as long as mwaona malo, mungayende mwa order mwagulisa. (My advice to people is that they should find some business to do. They should never despite any business venture because what is important is being able to do something to enable you raise money to look after your children.)