Another young Observer contributor, Solomon Watkins, on Tuesday treated the public to a very touching story of a physically challenged young man from Voinjama, Lofa County, who has made the great leap from begging to business, selling from a wheelbarrow.
Reporter Watkins caught up with Dolley and his wheelbarrow business on Gurley Street, Monrovia, and straightaway conducted an interview.
We are moved here to make two commendations. First, to young Watkins, who did the story on a poor, handicapped Liberian who decided to stop begging and venture into business.
The second commendation is due to Varney Dolley, 30, who traveled all the way from Voinjama to Monrovia to join thousands of other beggars on the capital’s overcrowded streets, only to beg for survival.
Dolley must be commended because he dared to depart from begging and plunge into business, despite the risks faced with his own heartless compatriots, who laugh at him and even steal from him by carrying away his goods without paying for them. But, he cries out, “What can I do? I can’t fight them. I leave them to God.”
This reminds us of an elderly widow in Crozierville, well into her eighties, who built a concrete shelter for a healthy herd of goats. Her own Crozierville people came one night, broke into the shelter and stole all her goats! Had she awaken that night to confront them, they might have killed her. So what could she do but, as Dolley, in faithful surrender: “leave it to God.”
We can, at this point, say with certainty that God WILL reward Dolley and Ma Padmore’s wicked assailants (attackers).
We urge Dolley not to give up, but to follow his dream of one day opening his own store. This, we hope, will inspire thousands of Liberians, whose shyness toward business has made them underdogs, even slaves in their own country, serving foreigners who came here with nothing and have now made millions.
Dolley was empowered by a loving aunt; undoubtedly herself a struggling Lofa market woman or farmer. This only shows that we all need a little help, a little push, to help lift us Liberians in business.
Do we Liberians know who understand the need for a helping hand? We can be sure it is the Lebanese, who are quick to reach out to a new arrival from Lebanon, who came with nothing, but is given first a job in some store, later a helping hand to start his own business. In three years, because of his seriousness, conscientiousness and hard work, he makes money and no sooner opens another store!
As we have said in numerous Editorials, Liberians have learnt nothing from these foreign business people—why? Because we are too lazy and unpatriotic—not only the ordinary Liberians but our leaders, too, who prefer to help foreigners in preference to their own fellow Liberians.
But there is something else more fundamental: our mean-spiritedness, selfishness and lack of love for one another, and even our envious spirit.
It is these negative elements in our national character that hinder and undermine our development and progress. How, for example, do we steal an old lady’s goats when we know she cannot run behind us? How do we steal from a physically challenged Dolley, when we know he cannot fight back?
But we say to Dolley, do not give up! Keep struggling on. God will avenge your assailants and detractors. God has the power to do something else: find and send you someone who will help you open that shop and empower you to run it successfully.
To our Liberian people, we say, we do not have to remain this way. We need to change our attitude to one another and to our country. Most of us are Christians. Why can’t we follow Christ’s teaching—“that you love one another as I have loved you”?
No matter how rich our country is, no matter how much money and other assistance we receive from our development partners; nothing will change until we change our attitude to one another and to our country.
The sooner we realize this the better off we all will be, the more certain we will be on a successful path to development and prosperity.