Here in the frenetic madness that is Lagos, where somewhere between 13 million and 18 million people live, sleeping on the streets doesn’t bear thinking about, especially for a young woman.
Her bed was wherever she could lie down in comparative safety.
For over a year her nights were spent curled up on top of a sack inside a flimsy street kiosk.
“I used to pray before sleeping,” she tells me as we sit talking, our voices almost drowned out by the roar of the ubiquitous petrol generator that provides round-the-clock power in this, Africa’s most populous city where the electricity supply is erratic.
Sleeping rough anywhere is a terrifying experience.
That something was to take Elizabeth under her wing and offer her the chance of employment with Seriki’s small business ‘London Braids’ a hairdressing and braiding salon that she started up 12 years ago.
Today Seriki has some 18 employees, 10 of which including Elizabeth are part of a unique project that focuses on empowering out of school girls with the skills and resources they need to build a more stable future.“She is always there for me,” says Elizabeth of Seriki as they stand arm-in-arm in the salon surrounded by other young women working on braiding wigs.Her parents gone she lived with an aunt who Elizabeth says harboured a terrible resentment for the young girl thrust into her life.“My aunt was very harsh, ‘go and meet your dead mother’, she would often say to me,” Elizabeth recalls of those times that became so unpleasant she left to live on Lagos streets.If it had not been for the intervention of a woman called Seriki Abosede, Elizabeth might have found herself trapped in a cycle of begging and the constant pull towards the nightmare of prostitution to which so many street girls in Lagos succumb in order to earn a few Nigerian Naira.“I had no one to help me when I was young, I had to fend for myself, so I decided to give something back to help others, says Seriki.