A life in the day of ...: A Tuvugane operator

Ananias Niyongira, 31, lost his leg when he was 15. He sells airtime and use of a pay phone on the side of the street. I always wake up at 6:00 in the morning. 
Against the odds: Making it despite the odds. (Photo / D. Ngabonziza)
Against the odds: Making it despite the odds. (Photo / D. Ngabonziza)

Ananias Niyongira, 31, lost his leg when he was 15. He sells airtime and use of a pay phone on the side of the street. I always wake up at 6:00 in the morning. 

Being disabled does not stop me from waking up early. My wife plays a significant role in making me a strong and focused husband.

Because I don’t make enough money for the family, breakfast has been dropped from our list of meals. Along with other Tuvugane hawkers I head to a nearby MTN wholesaler to buy air time at cost price.

Normally, I buy Frw20,000 worth of air time which can last anything between three and six days. From there I start walking the streets. 

I think I get it easier than some of my competitors and the customers like me. They always attend me kindly and sometimes pay over the required price.

Work is no joke around the Novotel Hotel. Those with two legs have a better chance of winning custom. Having one leg slows me down. But sometimes there are kind people who refuse to buy from those who come before me.

I remember one time when a white man was looking for airtime from Novotel and a crowd of my fellows gathered around him, but arriving after at a snails pace, made me more visible.

He was a man of generosity who wanted me to make it with one leg when he sees so many others like me ending up as street beggars. He gave me a leg support and a package of Frw100,000.

Every day I manage to get a profit of Frw2,000 francs and sometimes Frw3,000. We use Frw1,000 a day and the rest of the profit is deposited in bank. I now manage to support a family of four - my wife, two children and myself.

The money in the bank is for my children’s future. I would like them to get a good education that will lead to a better life when I am gone.

I really don’t want more than two children and my wife supports me but we don’t know how we shall come to achieve this. We have no idea on family planning and I heard that other families get advice of not producing many children.

In all my busy life, I always take some time to rest just to refresh my thoughts while planning more business. I get off for lunch at 1 p.m. and have meal with my wife and children, and spend one hour resting and talking to my kids.

At 2:30 p.m., I begin my search for evening bread. The search doesn’t last long; I call it a day at 7:00 p.m.

Contact: deave204@yahoo.com

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