Recession hurting us too, herb sellers cry out

Recession hurting us too, herb sellers cry out

Leaves, fresh and dried, tree barks, calabashes, clay pots, wooden images, tree barks, even dried animal skins are some of the things you behold when you visit a herb seller’s shop. They provide alternative medicine and are reputed for their affordability. But that does not seem to be the case anymore, as even they are crying out over poor sales, as a result of the current recession. Lateef Sanni reports

Herb sellers or elewe-omo, as they are called in the local Yoruba parlance, is a profession dominated mostly by women of the Yoruba ethnic group. In most cases, they are born into it, while some joined as apprentices to learn the ropes and gather experience, such that in no time, they can tell the difference among the different but sometimes identical-looking leaves. They also imbibe the use and efficacy of each leaf, stem or bark vis-à-vis the different illnesses.

Said Alhaja Iyabode Alase, a herb dealer in Isolo Road, Mushin, Lagos, “Elewe-omo are healers, who provide alternative medical care by using herbs to cure illnesses like malaria, jedijedi (pile), oka ori (anterior fontanelle, common in children), eela (a common infection that causes skin peeling and stooling in infants); we also care for pregnant women and prepare them for childbirth. We administer herbs on pregnant women to make the baby healthy, but that does not stop them from going to the hospital/clinic. In the clinic, they are told how old the pregnancy is, they check the position of the baby and how well it is growing; we also don’t give herbs to them without knowing how old the pregnancy is. The herbs we give them prevent them from giving birth to premature babies and also help the babies fight jaundice and other infant diseases.”

Corroborating her position, Alhaja Tawa Sadiq, a herb seller in Ilasa market said “We are life savers. When children are brought to us, we have to take care of them. Some may have gone to the hospital for treatment but when they realise they don’t have enough money to pay hospital bills, they bring them to us and when we recognise the ailment, we offer our service.”

For years, the local herb sellers have therefore come to the rescue of the common man. They open for service as early as 7 o’clock in the morning and close as late as 6/7pm. Their services, which include ‘diagnoses’ and herbal treatment, are quite cheap, compared to the hospitals and are well patronised. One would therefore expect that their clientele would be made up of mainly poor people, but the women say they cut across all classes.

“We are not only approached by the poor; the rich also come here for treatment. I have customers from the upper class. Even nurses do come to me. I even export my herbs abroad on demand (London, America, Canada etc.)”

Alhaja Sadiq said the ailments amongst the wealthy include “diabetes, high blood pressure, impotency, belly fat etc” and that these are caused mainly by what they eat and drink.

She however debunked the insinuation that they must be reaping a lot from customer patronage in these days of recession, since those who are not able to pay exorbitant hospital bills and drugs may be turning to them. The Nation gathered that their situation is no better. Market research revealed that majority of them are also suffering from the hardship resulting from the economy, as the poor people, who patronize them more, are the most affected.

Alhaja Balogun of Ilasa Market said though they get customers, who otherwise would have gone to the hospitals, it has not in any way significantly increased their sales.

She especially complained of the distances they have to cover to get their stocks. “Most of the people that bring our goods always complain about high transportation fare, thereby selling to us at high prices.”

Her neighbor, Alhaja Sadiq added that the herbs and other accessories that they buy are now extremely expensive. She also said, “We don’t make sales like before. Moreover, unlike before when we can easily get leaves, barks and other items around our homes or along the way, times have changed. We don’t have bushes anymore, as everywhere has transformed into buildings. As a result, we buy from suppliers, who travel long distances to supply us and complain about transportation fare. To make matters worse, we get customers, who come to us desperately in need of help, but do not have money to pay.”

Alhaja Alase gave an instance of when a child was brought to her shop by the father and some nurses. “The child was suffering from rashes, which had spoilt his skin. But the father had no money and the mother had left him, so I had no choice but to take it up as a charity. I gave them some herbs for drinking, bathing and another to add to his cream. I also told them to come back after a month for observation and possibly further treatment.”

“We are not only approached by the poor; the rich also come here for treatment. I have customers from the upper class. Even nurses do come to me. I even export my herbs abroad on demand (London, America, Canada etc.)”

Alhaja Sadiq said the ailments amongst the wealthy include “diabetes, high blood pressure, impotency, belly fat etc” and that these are caused mainly by what they eat and drink.

She however debunked the insinuation that they must be reaping a lot from customer patronage in these days of recession, since those who are not able to pay exorbitant hospital bills and drugs may be turning to them. The Nation gathered that their situation is no better. Market research revealed that majority of them are also suffering from the hardship resulting from the economy, as the poor people, who patronize them more, are the most affected.

Alhaja Balogun of Ilasa Market said though they get customers, who otherwise would have gone to the hospitals, it has not in any way significantly increased their sales.

She especially complained of the distances they have to cover to get their stocks. “Most of the people that bring our goods always complain about high transportation fare, thereby selling to us at high prices.”

Her neighbor, Alhaja Sadiq added that the herbs and other accessories that they buy are now extremely expensive. She also said, “We don’t make sales like before. Moreover, unlike before when we can easily get leaves, barks and other items around our homes or along the way, times have changed. We don’t have bushes anymore, as everywhere has transformed into buildings. As a result, we buy from suppliers, who travel long distances to supply us and complain about transportation fare. To make matters worse, we get customers, who come to us desperately in need of help, but do not have money to pay.”

Alhaja Alase gave an instance of when a child was brought to her shop by the father and some nurses. “The child was suffering from rashes, which had spoilt his skin. But the father had no money and the mother had left him, so I had no choice but to take it up as a charity. I gave them some herbs for drinking, bathing and another to add to his cream. I also told them to come back after a month for observation and possibly further treatment.”

http://thenationonlineng.net/recession-hurting-us-herb-sellers-cry/

 

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