The two women stood in the midst of the crowd, an all too familiar scene now, to which they are accustomed.
"They are calling us, in Sinkor", the Deputy "Crusade leader said. The other, her Chief Crusader, glanced at her watch. It was nearing 6 P.M.
"...We can make it. The sun is still up. We can work for two more hours," the chief, the President's head of Task Force and Monrovia City Mayor-designate said. "Let's move!"
As they rushed off to the next garbage hot spot in their crusading quest, an elderly man intercepted them. He stood before them, in a humble manner, like a lesser person appearing before an imperial monarch.
"I am appealing to you", he began, sheepishly, almost shaking with humility because he saw this as a rare opportunity.
"Appealing to me for what?" Ms. Broh, heading the President's Task Force to clean up filth-covered Monrovia, one of the largest slums in West Africa, asked.
The man's appeal was that behind his house on Clay Street is a mountain of human waste, posing serious health threats. He has talked to neighbors to desist from piling more garbage and human waste there, but, as everywhere, they ignored him. He wants the human waste removed and the sewer that has burst and piled up sucked out.
"Am I Water & Sewer?" Ms. Broh asked in reference to the state entity responsible for such tasks. "No. But I am appealing to you", the man replied repeatedly in humility.
Reluctantly, the Crusade leader replied: "OK. I'll
see what to do " Slowly, the man left the scene, satisfied that salvation has been promised where there is no hope.
Like a crusader, she commanded her loyal flock and drove away, towards Sinkor, where another request was awaiting them.
Whatever the view of the manner in which they are doing their job-smashing shacks and all that, these women seem committed to their belief, which is that they can deliver the city from rising debris everywhere. It is said that belief in one's objectives is conquering weapon against odds. Where there is no belief, regardless of the resources, achievement is difficult, if not impossible.
With no budget, no standing staff because Ms. Broh has faced confirmation resistance at the Legislature known for confirming some of the most incompetent people, their belief in what they are doing is their weapon.
Ms Broh had come to the offices of this paper during her tour of Clay Street Wednesday. This was a face-to-face opportunity for a chat with this writer, but also to register her protests at remarks attributed to her, that the World Bunk should go to go hell.
"I never said that", the articulate lady protested, adding that she had received calls from the Bank's US offices inquiring if this were true.
This brought an opportunity to hear her story, but it happened so suddenly that there was no chance to record the hour-long conversation for exact quotes.
She began by protesting the contract between the World Bank and a local group for garbage disposal. She said City Hall was excluded from the contract and added that in the future, citizens, victims of uncollected garbage, should be involved in such contracts. She said there is need to look at other successful examples of garbage disposal, such as in Abidjan, in designing a garbage collection here system. There is a need for some technical set-ups, such as incinerators to transform garbage into useful products such as Ethanol, she said.
Her remarks clearly show that contrary to the hell-raising angel roaming around, Ms. Broh knows what its takes for a sustainable solution to the problem. The question is the money, and the correct use of it, for such a sustainable solution.
She went into the huge challenges before in saving an over crowded city of filth.
"They tell me that if Joe Tate didn't make it with us, you can't", she said, laughingly.
She recalled ordering an Indian merchant arrested because behind his house and business was a pile of feces. "It was horrible", she recalled. But in the end, the Indian cleaned up his mess on her orders.
She also recalled similar encounters in some of the worst slums in the city covered with feces. "You have to throw your clothes away when you come from there", she said, giggling with humor.
Then she reflected on other dimensions of her job-fighting crime, something the police, with all the UN backing, have woefully failed to do. This may not be within her sphere of operations. It is added by necessity. Increasingly, with a crooked police, the common people trust her. Calls are coming from crime-infested communities.
When she stumbled on a large catch of gunshots recently instead of the police, it was the work of an informant trusting he would see results. The police would have adopted another "solution", as is often the case, lead to rising mistrust of the police in the communities.
In one community, an informant told her a woman was selling drugs. She moved in with her crusading troops, ordered the woman to bring all things outside. The woman did, except the box containing the drugs. Ms. Broh ordered:
"And what about the box?" The woman began to yell, and fight. She was pulled out, half-naked, as the crowd watched. This was woman to woman. The entire mat hut serving as a drug den was burnt down. The police would have "arrested" the drugs and let the woman go after a few hours.
That the communities are placing their faith in the Broh Crusaders is an evidence of institutional breakdown. After an encounter, it is evident that her commitment, a value lacking in most government officials, is undeniable. It seems, this is her weapon.