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Optimism for the Likes of Rabi and Their Local Community

Nigeria has recorded very devastating environmental and human impacts of artisanal mining activities. Extremely notable is the Zamfara lead poisoning that took a toll on human lives especially children. At least 400 children have died from lead poisoning since March 2010 but the World Health Organization says the full scale of the problem is "still to be determined". Women are the ones who end up bearing an enormous share of the costs to people and the environment and need to be supported to understand and take precautions to reduce harmful impacts.

As women, we have a part in and the means of addressing scores of problems associated with equality, poverty, environmental sustainability, but are contained by so many discriminatory practices which work against us. I recall leading a team in July 2012, to conduct an Environmental Impact Study at a mining site in Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State. It was my first time in that part of Nigeria and typically, the needs and priorities of women in the community were of particular interest to me.

The focus group discussion held with the artisanal miners had an all male presence and I couldn’t but ask if there were no female artisanal miners in the community. The question was greeted with a chorused response of “Rabi”. It appeared all the men had something to say about Rabi! .....Rabi is the only female miner in this community and is even more successful than most of us; as she started mining as a young girl. She is still single, should be in her late twenties. Rabi used to own a motorcycle but recently she bought a car. She dared where men dared!

Perceptibly, the men had a lot of respect for Rabi as they eulogized her audacity to defy all the odds associated with artisanal mining in order to keep herself and her parents out of poverty. Though we didn’t get an opportunity to meet nor speak with her the tales about Rabi appeared unending. We had hoped that upon our next visit, we would find Rabi; but the opportunity was stalled when the contracting Company terminated the project prematurely.

Many questions still excite my mind about what made Rabi thick in the midst of her male counterparts, the dangers of mining, the plight of her fellow women, as well as the widespread socio-economic and religious constraints that characterized the community. The world needs to know about all these and the state of the grossly degraded and underdeveloped Birnin Yauri district; which bears no semblance a community richly endowed with precious minerals.

As an advocacy step, I entered some pictures about the deplorable state of primary health care in Birnin Yauri for the 2012 Online-Photoshare-Contest. Drawing global attention to Birnin Yauri was my principal motive. I still hope to hear directly from Rabi and her likes and use web 2.0 and new media tools to share their stories and also encourage them to find ways of doing the same to help themselves and their communities.

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Comments

Mukut's picture

You are a change maker

Very wonderful and descriptive post. Your voice is important in highlighting the problems that need our immediate attention.

Have always admired your writing and your will to bring a change.

Keep it up my Green Girl! You will go places.

Love

Mukut Ray

Greengirl's picture

Your Comment Mukut!

Your comment gave me a lift! We are all in this together my very dear and selfless Mukut. You are one who is very close to my heart and I mean it.

Time hasn't really permitted me in recent times to be regular on World Pulse, but at such moments, my heart still connects to whatever it is you may have shared that I couldn't get online to read. That is the power of having a sister and friend who understands and shares one's concerns. If and whenever I find myself in your country, be sure that I will seek you out and give you a long reserved hug.

Your writings inspire me too and I am sure many of our sisters and brothers feel the same way. Lets keep speaking up for the positive change we believe in.

Greengirl

Mukut's picture

Yes my dear

Yes, whenever you get a chance to visit this side of the world, do give me a shout out. Will be looking forward to that day.

Hugs and love

Mukut Ray

Sharontina's picture

Hi

Dear Olanike,

its great to see you after some time. kudos to the great work you are doing. no one can beat that.

my prayers and blessings dear Sis.

wish you the best and only the best.

love.

Merlin Sharontina

Greengirl's picture

Sharontina!

Your comments made me feel like putting on my dancing shoes in response to your kind and generous words which came across to me more like a soul lifting song. Thanks too for the observation made about my absence from WP for sometime now. I feel loved and appreciated.

As for my work, there's no doubting the fact that your support, prayers and blessings will continue to motivate me to forge ahead.

I can never thank you enough my lovely sister and friend.

Loving you all the way!

Olanike

Flavia Nyadoi's picture

Broad Mind

Dear Green Girl,

This is so insightful, an element that need attention but seem to have been ignored by many.
Thank you for taking that brave step.

Keep the spirit,
Flavia

Greengirl's picture

Hello Flavia

I am glad you saw through my intent for sharing that story. Your words of encouragement were also very soothing and empowering and I trust God to help me forge ahead.

I'll keep your words to HEART!

Hugs to Flavia from Greengirl.

Dear GreenGirl,

Thank-you for sharing and for everything you do - I look forward to hearing more about Birnin Yauri and your attempts to draw global attention to such a noble cause. Good luck!

Gaurav Nakhare
WP Listener

Greengirl's picture

Dear Gaurav

I am taken aback that I didn't reply your comment before now. Just imagine that I just discovered this after more than a year. What an oversight! Please accept my sincere apologies.

Your feedback is much appreciated and I very much hope to share more about Birnin Yauri, as I look forward to an opportunity to visit the place again.

Hugs,
Greengirl

hemrajan's picture

Rabi, an inspirational story

Dear GreenGirl,

Thank you for sharing and educating me about the devastating impact of artisanal mining activities. To be honest, I had not even heard of "artisanal" mining before reading your essay. Wikipedia describes an artisanal miner as "a subsistence miner...not officially employed by a mining company, but rather work independently, mining or panning for gold using their own resources". It is sad to read about the deaths of so many children...and no doubt it is the women who bear the brunt of the hardships brought on by artisanal mining.

I was impressed to read about your leadership in conducting the Environmental Impact Study at Birnin Yauri. A very worthy cause indeed!

And most inspirational was your story about Rabi! Good to hear that she did not conform to any stereotype and has overcome the challenges associated with artisanal mining and societal barriers to become a miner and provide a living for her family.

Would love to hear more!

Asha

Carpe Diem

Greengirl's picture

Loads of Hugs!

It so much gladdened my heart that you found the piece worth reading and educative. Thank you too for taking notice of the leadership role I took in the conduct of the study. It may interest you to know that I was the only female in the team. Haha, Just like Rabi!

Though Rabi's job is really very risky, there is no doubting the fact that there is so much one can learn from her doggedness.

I still look forward to finding out more and understanding the developmental and environmental issues and challenges women in Birnin Yauri face, and finding ways to help out. Hope to still search for Rabi and hear from her. Be sure that you will get the update when that eventually happens.

Much love and more hugs,

Greengirl

Greengirl's picture

Loads of Hugs!

It so much gladdened my heart that you found the piece worth reading and educative. Thank you too for taking notice of the leadership role I took in the conduct of the study. It may interest you to know that I was the only female in the team. Haha, Just like Rabi!

Though Rabi's job is really very risky, there is no doubting the fact that there is so much one can learn from her doggedness.

I still look forward to finding out more and understanding the developmental and environmental issues and challenges women in Birnin Yauri experience, and may be too finding ways to help out. Hope to still search for Rabi and hear from her. Be sure that you will get the update when that eventually happens.

Much love and more hugs,

Greengirl

Stella Paul's picture

My sister, keep marching forward

Well Olanike, where do i start? what do I say? How can I tell you how happy I am to see my dear 'Greengirl' here!
Keep marching forward, keep telling those stories. I will come back again,and again, and again, to read them. And be inspired. You know that already, right?

Love for you, my sister from Kaduna!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

Dear Sister

So sorry for the delayed response. I have been away from my base for two days running on a field study and only just returned a while ago. I am so elated that you found time out of your very busy schedule to read the post! You must know by now that you have in so many ways inspired me to keep writing.
I will keep looking out for your inspiring stories.

Love you always,
Greengirl.

Greengirl's picture

Dear Sister

So sorry for the delayed response. I have been away from my base for two days running on a field study and only just returned a while ago. I am so elated that you found time out of your very busy schedule to read the post! You must know by now that you have in so many ways inspired me to keep writing.
I will keep looking out for your inspiring stories.

Love you always,
Greengirl.

Greengirl's picture

I am glad..............

I am glad to know that you were inspired after reading the post. I feel encouraged to keep sharing. God bless you too!

Warmly,
Greengirl

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