Having had the opportunity of visiting 10 counties in Liberia quite recently with the Ministry of Education, More Than Me and Shelter for Life International, a picture was drawn; the rural parts of Liberia is alarmingly cut off from many basic needs.
Bad Road Condition
“The road from Monrovia to Harper Maryland is bad and that’s why it’s like a ghost town here. No one is coming here, we have to go to Ivory Coast in order to buy any goods, rather then Monrovia. The Hospital is cold, they prescribe medicine and most times they don’t have it. To get better it’s hard, they only treat pain and malaria, finished,” stated Sam Williams of Harper Maryland, a father of four.
During our stranious six-day trip driving through bumpy dirt roads, seeing broken and crashed vehicles along the road and not seeing human life form for hours on end, we were able to visit 10 government schools across Liberia.
More Than Me and Shelter for Lifehad an exclusive opportunity to see the school sector in the rural parts for themselves.
Lack of Infrastructure
In Grand Bassa County, Sinoe County, Grand Kru County, Maryland County, River Gee County, Grand Gedeh County, Nimba County and Bong County, I rarely sighted a moving vehicle, food, clinics and entertaining centers. There were no laughing children, smiling faces as things looked to be hard on the average villager.
Instead, I saw storms of hungryand poor villages, unclothed children who showed signs of malnutrition and poor health and a lack of up-to-date-houses and buildings.
“I help around in the farm, but when I’m in my village, there’s nothing to do. No money coming in. If i say i know what real soap looks like, dah lie. My whole family is bathing with iron soap. Sometimes I don’t see more than L$100 in a month because there’s no one around. Cars from Monrovia come here maybe once a month. If you want to build a concrete house, you can’t, because the car bringing in the building materials keep getting stuck on the road, so they don’t bother coming out here!
There’s no help for us,” stated Princess Weah of Sinoe County.
Some villagers living in Newtown, River Gee, including Tenneh who claims to have visited Monrovia only once in her 26 years of life, posed a question to the Daily Observer pertaining to their remoteness.
They all wanted to know, where are all the organizations in Liberia said to be reaching out to the rural people directly?
“I saw women wearing expensive lappas in Monrovia some years back and they told me that they help other women like me so that we can one day wear the same thing. Why can’t we see these groups, organizations and people in the rural parts of the bush to help us? My child is more than 10 years old and don’t know anything about play toys because I don’t wear expensive lappa suits,” Tenneh exclaimed.
There are sights one hardly sees in Monrovia, such as untamed cows and billy goats wandering in the streets, a major health hazard to many living in the rural parts. I also noticed that children of all ages either lacked slippers, clothes, affection and common things that children should have.
“I just want the government to help us build a fence around our school to keep the cows and goats from poopooing on our campus and entering the place while we’re learning. They’re disturbing us plenty,” stated a student of Benjamin Collins Elementary School.
I also watched boys of all ages play football along the roads using a round makeshift mud ball, as the younger children used their plain hands to create whatever their tiny minds would allow them to create out of mud.
In some instances, the children would run near our passing vehicles in hopes of receiving anything that could represent Monrovia to them.
“Monrovia is America to us, plenty of my friends want to be able to live there one day. But for me, no one in my family has moved there, so I don’t have any hopes of going there,” stated Samuel of Harper, Maryland
“The Ministry of Education did well this few time; they came to our village and gave us a football. The children were plenty on that one football so it burst. We made one out of mud that we play withnow. This the only game we have to play here,” he added.
Meanwhile, Katie Meyler, Founder of the More Than Me Academy has her eyes set on yet another challenge in Liberia and that is the school sector in which the Minister of Education George Werner has pleaded with organizations like hers to help reform.
In doing so, Katie feels if she can respond just as timely as she has in the past with her own MTM project and Ebola, things like roads, school infrastructure and food will also be reformed.
“What’s scary to me more than Ebola is the lack of infrustructure that allowed such a thing to happen,” she added.