The New Dawn (Monrovia)

1 February 2013

Liberia: Lord, Will Our People Focus After This Meeting?

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Dear Father,

Huh, this week is not easy here oo. They say all the world leaders are here. They say, they are here to talk about how to develop villages like ours, talk about peace and all that.

Mm, so who all here my son?

Father, they say, the leader for Uncle Sam's cousins village is here, the leader for pekin man look alike people is also here among plenty foreigners.

So you say they are here to talk about peace and development ehn?

Yes, oo Father. But my concern is whether they will actually master the political will to implement the things they will put on paper. Because, you see Father, talk is cheap and coming together to put pen to paper saying we will do this and move from there to do it, is very hard for our people.

What do you mean my son?

Father, haven't you follow these people and their various concept papers all put together in the name of trying to improve the lives of poor people and villages like ours, but how far have they gone with implementation? That is why I am afraid that they should not leave from here and sweep the paper's under some tables to gather dust.

Ooh, my son, even if they sweep the papers under a table, do you think your people here will do the same?

I hope not oo Father. Because if there is any other village that needs such a mind opener it is ours. But as you rightly said asked if our people will keep up the momentum to prioritize issues raise at this meeting that are within their power to do or will they be waiting for donor money before picking the paper up to even read thru, is serious.

Already, our people are noted for inflated impressions: creating jobs, empowering famers, farm to market roads, safe drinking water, you name them Father. These are things we hear every day but not one change in the life of the people. Giving the farmers seed to make farm is not the thing, but how will the person handle the post harvest crop is another, especially where there are no storage facility.

You see Father, in other villages around us here, no matter what time of the season, you still see seasonal crops available on the market very fresh. But here after the rainy season we have to go to our neighboring villages for fresh garden eggs (bitter boy), pepper and all that. To see Mango (plum) is very hard accept during its seasonal period.

And yet they will boost of giving the people assistance, what good is such assistance when it cannot help take the person to another lever instead of keeping them in that same vicious cycle.

But my son the people are doing well. Have they not created over 20,000 jobs as promised?

Where Father? Are they stable jobs created by them or as they say vulnerable employment, where today you wake up there is a 99% change that you will soon be out of job.

Ooh yes, they are doing a lot. I mean giving farmers seed to maintain them and their families but not to really encourage them to see it as a way of getting out of the poverty bracket.

Yes, Father, because if they wanted to they could provide mill for these communities and encourage them to enlarge their farms so that the yield could be sold.

But where? Even if they tell the people make the farm we will come and buy from you, the prospect for the people getting the full amount agreed upon will be another hurdle; Either those coming to make the payment will cut the people money or just decide to punish them as some newspapers like ours are being punish today for carrying government advertisement. We can't pay our staff and creditors because the government who suppose to pay us before we do has deliberately refused to do so but introduces delays that are so frustrating. So, how can we get out of this poverty bracket?

For the concept paper, Father, I have no doubt that it will be one of the finest documents coming out of our post war village, but will it be implemented to the letter even in our own village? Will it help our people to reaffirm their commitment and keep focus on initiatives that will improve our living condition so that our people can't build a kind of structure that the Cleaning up General will go on private property to break down?

Father, I rest my case, because I have to be careful here.

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