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Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix - Business - Nairaland

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Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix by davidugotex(m): 1:49pm On Jul 16, 2015
Anambra woman makes wave in casket making
Indeed, 42-year-old Mrs Ifeoma Ofornagoro fits in rightly into the biblical saying that God lifts the poor from the dust bin. Fifteen years ago, Mrs Ofornagoro, who is today the chief executive of Divine Favour Funeral Services based in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State, was just a helpless pure water vendor at Upper Iweka. But today, with a dint of hard work and tenacity of purpose her story and that of her family have changed for good. The mother of five, and wife of Mr Christopher Ofornagoro, who hails from Ezinifite, Aguata Local Government of Anambra State,today runs a flourishing ambulance service side by side with a casket-making company. Her story, which is interwoven with hardship, hopelessness, intrigues, intimidations, frustrations, vision and self determination, is one that throws great challenge to both men and women who are giving up hopes in life. A woman, whose husband could not then pay for her child delivery bills in the hospital and could not afford one meal a day except proceeds from the hawking of the pure water, is today anemployer of labour by her sheer determination to succeed.Oriental News encounter with Mrs Ofornagoro popularly known around her business area as Nwayi Akpati Ozu (Woman who makes caskets), was touching, revealing and educative.

How she started
After getting married, it happens that my husband was a bus conductor and along the line their vehicle got spoilt and things became very difficult for us to the extent that when I delivered to pay my bills to get me out of the hospital was a problem. So, I began to sell pure water at Upper Iweka and from the pure water hawking, I saved small money and moved on. When I had my lastchild who is 15 years now, there was no money, even to feed, so when that my baby was two months old, I carried the baby to Ose market where I bought potatoes which I displayed along Boromeo to sell and that I did for some time until I saved some money and changed to Chin-Chin baking. I asked my Oga (husband) to join me as his motor business was no longer working so that he could be cutting the chin-chin for me. So, he joined me, while he cuts, I fried the chin-chin and it was this chin-chin business that we were doing and got some money and I suggested to him that we should buy a Volvo wagon car that wecould use to carry floor and other things we needed for the business, he agreed and we bought the Volvo car. Then we do park the car behind us at Boromeo there where we do our chin-chin and people would usually come to ask us if the vehicle is an ambulance. When their questions became much I told my husband that it would be better that we use the car for ambulance services, he said no, he is afraid that the dead will kill him. I said okay let me go and learn how to drive and I went and learnt how to drive. So, having learnt how to drive I made up my mind to go into ambulance business, so when people come and ask if the vehicle is ambulance I said yes and I started conveying corpses. The first place I conveyed a corpse was Ezeagu in Enugu State. I went smoothly and they paid me, I returned to Onitsha here and that was how the ambulance business started and it was in Boromeo that I started it. In fact, the ambulance business began to boom for me and people were looking for me always and want me to do their job for them, people say it is Divine Ambulance that they want, that is my business name. But at a point people, drivers both those who work for the hospital and others who are in the ambulance business began to conspire against me saying that I am spoiling their business for them, thatI reduce the price and that was why people look for me, that I amspoiling business for them. They conspired and held a meeting and after that the owner of the place I was using to park asked me to leave the place immediately. That was how I cried and ran to this place, there was one man called Eddy, he is late now, I told him my story and he asked me to bring my vehicle to his shop.

Making caskets
So, every morning I will bring my ambulance and park it at that Eddy’s shop and you will not believe it, people were still coming down here from Boromeo to look for me and hire my ambulance.That Eddy was a casket maker, so when I park my vehicle, I sat down in his shop and as he made the casket I watched him with keen interest and one day I told him that I can make this casket o, he said it’s a lie. I said I can do it, he said I can’t. I said okay let me go and buy wood, he said I should go and buy, I went and bought wood, came back to his shop and took his tools and smoothened the wood and began to make a casket, the man could not believe his eyes and he said to me, what are you waiting for? Go and pay for shed and that was how I paid for shed and started making caskets. That was how I was doing it till I perfected in it. I even do the painting myself, I bought the machine for that, so I start and finish the casket.

Fleet of ambulance
By God’s grace, my Divine Ambulance Service is moving fine and at the moment I have five Sienna and three Volvo in my fleet. I have been in this business for 12 years, I drove ambulance for six years and I have been making casket for about five years now.The casket businessThis business is unique, when you finish making the casket, you stay and wait, you don’t invite people to come and patronize you,and it is only when one comes to your shop that you know he or she needs your product. But also if you do neat and beautiful job,people will be advertising you and your product. It is not every day that you may sell casket but it’s a must that you sell because people are many in the mortuary. In ambulance business, you have more jobs at the weekend, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but if it is casket, the business booms more on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when people come to buy the ones they will use at the weekend. We have casket of N8, 000, that is about the least and from there up to N100, 000 depending on your choice.

Staff
I have about seven in this workshop, some have finished apprentice and are working with me, and some are still learning. One of my children, the boy working outside there is also learning. He is not brilliant in school, I have put him in many schools to no avail, sometimes he left school and roam about thestreet, so I decided to bring him here to learn this casket making so that he don’t become useless. He is doing it and doing it well.

Other children
My first daughter is in the university studying, my first son is studying medicine at University of Ibadan, the third one is studying nursing, and the other two are leaving in their various schools’ boarding houses at Uli and Juniorate Nkpor.

Turnover
I use the income from this to solve my problems, I use the proceeds to train my children in school to whatever level they want and that is my turnover. Like now, if any of my vehicles get spoilt or can no longer perform, I will simply buy another. From this my business, I have been able to buy land where I am building a house in Nkpor and I have from this business built a house in my husband’s home. From it too I have been able to start business for some of my husband’s relations that were not doing anything and they are now doing well and are on their own.

Intimidation from men

Earlier, men were not happy with my courage to come into their trade, in fact, it got to a stage that they took me to court that I did not learn the trade, I just jumped into making caskets. But when we got to Awka the police people were rather hailing me, saying woman that make caskets, that I am wonderful, I should keep it up. And those who took me there were surprised and they all left disappointed and they left me alone to continue my work. Sometimes they insinuate that I may be using some charms to be able to make caskets, but what is it? Is there anything that I will use to learn to do this and also learn to spread the wood? So it is just God’s gift.

Re: Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix by sam4(m): 2:00pm On Jul 16, 2015
olowo posi
Re: Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix by girlsCAFE(m): 2:05pm On Jul 16, 2015
Casket of blessing
Re: Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix by davidugotex(m): 2:14pm On Jul 16, 2015
...Continued


Challenges
Some of my challenges now are machines, especially the one that cuts the wood and shapes it, and most times is no power and that forces you to do those things manually. But if you have something like big generator that can carry those machines it will help you to be fast and also make the job neater.

Product capacity

We make about 10 caskets a week.ExperienceI have not encountered anything that is strange in the cause of making casket or running my ambulance services. But like those people who just left my shop now were telling a story of one man that fell from his house in Okpoko. It said that they tried to carry him but two different ambulances tried but their vehicles could not start while the corpse was inside the vehicle. But they suggested that they should call me and they called me on phone.I went there prayed they put him in my ambulance, I started my vehicle and moved, I took the corpse to Abakiliki and nothing happened. Starting from day one I commenced the ambulance service, I have not experienced anything, immediately I pray, I just take off, I was not the one that killed the person, I am only rending assistance to the corpse and the owners. I am not aware of the use of any charms for the work because I don’t have any, and I don’t know whether others use charms. I only pray to God and God in heaven has been leading me.

Advice to women
My advice to women is, before when I was doing nothing, my husband was always suffering High Blood Pressure (HBP) and was always in the hospital, but since I started doing these things and began to make money and solve family problems, he has fewer burdens, he no longer gets sick, he is now always healthy. So, if a woman assists in the family it will elongate the life of the man, it will also lightens the man’s burdens. So, I advice fellow women to ensure you are doing something, no matter how little to support your family. There is no work a woman cannot do, it’s just a matter of interest.

Husband
Talking about his wife Ifeoma, 56-year-old Mr Christopher Ofornagoro who said he married her in 1992 described her as a woman with a lion’s heart.“When you look at her you will recognize that she has is courageous and has a strong heart, she does not fear anybody. She has the kind of spirit that rules her in the sense that if you look around she is the only woman making casket. If you like let all of you gang up against her she is not moved. When she believes in a thing, she follows her heart. “She also has the talent that if she watches you do something, you see her do same even better, like this casket now, somebodyspread it but she immediately learnt and is doing it herself now.” Mr Ofornagoro who said he rejected his wife doing the ambulance job earlier, however, advised men not to discourage their wives who are determined to assist the family through genuine trades or businesses, noting that some women like his wife bring blessings to the family.
Re: Must Read! Story Of A Successful Woman Coffin Maker. Pix by Raymie(m): 3:18pm On Jul 20, 2015
Very nice story. There's dignity in labour and pride in honest work.

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