-But Finance Ministry promises to pay in 10 days
The normal flow of traffic on Broad Street was momentarily halted yesterday when members of the Liberian Albino Society took to the streets in protest for five months’ arrears they claimed the government owes them. Passersby and onlookers stood with their mouths virtually open as the protestors displayed placards with various inscriptions, demanding their rights, improved education and so forth.
The Albino Society became aggrieved due to an apparent lack of salary payments to maintain and motivate health workers assigned at two albino-owned clinics. This, they said, have affected the health system of albinos for the past four months, sparking a go-slow protest only recently.
Over 40 students, who are on albinos’ scholarships across the country, are reportedly being put out of class because they too were not able to pay for their tuition.
Against this backdrop, more than 70 albinos yesterday staged a protest over government’s failure to pay a 5-month allotment to the Liberia Albino Society.
The protestors were between the ages of 3 and 57. They displayed placards with various inscriptions, calling on the government to address their plight.
According to Mrs. Patricia Logan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Liberia Albino Society, at least US$39,000 is received quarterly from the government. However, since November 2017 they have not received any allotment or budgetary support.
After hours of protest on the grounds of the Finance Ministry in Monrovia, Mrs. Logan and five other officials met Finance Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., who reportedly promised to pay them in ten days.
“Our faith and hope are in the Finance Ministry, because authorities there earlier assured us that they will put our money back in the budget. Hopefully by or before next weekend, our nurses will be paid and scholarship money will be settled,” Mrs. Logan said.
“That will also enable us to pay our debts; we will not suffer from sunburn and skin cancer while protesting in these naturally-harsh conditions,” she said.
“This is the first time we have staged a protest over the failure of the government to pay us; and so, this means, we are stranded and marginalized. We hope that as the Minister has promised us, we will get our money before next weekend,” Mrs. Logan said.
The Liberia Albino Society was established in 2009. Currently, it has a membership that is well over 700.
Albinism is a rare, non-transmissible, genetically inherited condition that affects people worldwide of all genders, ethnicity and nationalities. The most common effects of albinism are the lack of melanin production in hair, skin and eyes (known as oculocutaneous albinism).
The lack of pigmentation makes people affected by albinism vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer from sun exposure. It may even cause visual problems such as photophobia, a severe sensitivity to light.