Women from rural Montserrado, including Crozierville, Careysburg and Fendell, have attributed the poor turnout of voters to the lack of proper representation as well as fear of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.
Speaking to the Daily Observer on Election Day, 47 year-old Madam Cecelia Togba, who resides in Crozierville, said the deaths from the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which affected mainly women, was a major problem for the society today and will be tomorrow.
“Some women have three to four children that they need to care for and going to the polls now has no impact on some of them. There is no hope for some of these women for now and they think that this is not the time for election. Some of us still have tears in our eyes,” said Madam Togba.
She explained that during the campaign period of the special senatorial election, only one of the candidates visited the Crozierville area leaving many of them wondering whom to vote for since “we simply do not know these people—the candidates,” she said.
She said many people were no longer feeling the impact of representation, stating that, “We need to start finding food for our children rather than to focus on going to the polls that would neither help our children nor ourselves.”
“We only want to know when schools will be reopened for now and start finding money to send our children back to school, my brother. We are taking responsibility for children from one year old upwards who lost either one or both parents or other close relatives to the disease. You cannot see your brother or sister’s child and other family members and not care for them,” she told our reporter.
Ms. Musu Nyankoi, another resident, explained that she was only voting due to encouragement from one of her friends but said she had not planned to “waste her time for someone else’s children’s future while she continued struggling for a better life for herself and her children.”
According to Madam Nyankoi, many people are frustrated by the impact of the Ebola virus and gong to the polls after so many families lost members, including husbands and children, brothers and sisters, without being able to locate their burial sites was a distressing thing for the people of Liberia.
She said, “The government needed to come to the people first before the election time and make them to understand why should Liberia (have) elections and what some of the people who lost relatives need to do in this election.”
A youth from Careysburg, Patience Kollie, explained that she was not voting in this election because she did not think Liberia needed this election in the midst of the deadly Ebola virus, which has destroyed so many lives.
Giving her view on youth participation in the special senatorial election, Ms. Kollie said some young people, especially first time voters, were exercising their rights. “I will exercise my voting right in 2017,” she declared.
She called on the government to focus on working with women mainly those affected by the outbreak of the epidemic and help reduce their worries as well as their responsibilities, most especially by helping to ensure that all orphans throughout the country are provided scholarships for an extended period.
“If these orphans are given at least local scholarships and the parents are empowered to find food for their children and cater to their other needs, this will help us recover from the impact of Ebola soon. Some people have three to four orphans and no husband to support them anymore,” she explained.
According to her, after the 14 years of civil crisis in the country, some people benefited by going to school without paying fees and helping the children will greatly help the society as well as reduce future liabilities.
The Daily Observer visited several polling centers in rural Montserrado, including the Careysburg Administrative Building, Careysburg Public School, Fendell Palava Hut, Euphemia Barclay Elementary School in Bentol City, capital of Montserrado, and several polling centers in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.