Liberia: Woman With Disability Defying Odds to Earn Living in Bong County

Gbarnga — To Ma Esther McGill, a one-legged woman, being a single parent with three children is a complete nightmare, particularly in a country dogged by economic recession. "Things are too difficult for me, my son. Imagine my condition, I have to send my children to school, feed them and provide shelter. Things have gone bad for me," Ma Esther said.

Esther's life and challenges are well-known in Gbarnga. In fact, she has become the epitome of courage, strength --mental and physical--and determination to physically challenged people in Bong County.

She said she has faced discrimination from family members in the past. "Family members were not happy with me as I was unable to contribute to the household due to my physical condition. For a poor, excluded disabled woman surviving on what she could do with her bare hands and uncertain about the future, Rep. Moye selected me to benefit from the Nancy Moye foundation, making a handicapped person a priority."

The 46-year-old told FrontPageAfrica Saturday that she has refused to accept that her deformed leg is an impediment. She said she grew up with such dedication and confidence in herself. "I know that having being a one-legged person was not the end to my life. It from such personal encouragement I have managed to come this far. In fact, I have my own house and sending my children to one of the expensive schools in Gbarnga," she said.

And with personal encouragement ringing in her ears, Esther told FrontPageAfrica that she goes to the market as early as 6:00am in an attempt to lure potential buyers. "My son, knowing that I am a single parent, every morning I wake up and go in the market. Because of my condition people, I am popular among buyers," she said.

Esther said the admonishment from friends and family members to never give up in life continues to inspire her. "My friends have been a help to me also. They encourage me every day to keep it up and never give up on whatever challenges that will come my way," she added.

Grateful Esther lauds Rep. Moye

Esther used the opportunity with FrontPageAfrica to express her gratitude to the Nancy Moye Foundation - a village saving loan scheme sponsored by the office of Bong County district two Representative Prince Moye, and for supporting her endeavor.

Rep. Moye since his election in 2011 has focused on empowering women and those requiring assistance towards earning their own incomes through the Nancy Moye village saving loan scheme.

At first, she said she was nervous and felt there was little hope. But, drawing on her determined spirit, she slowly gained courage. She knew nothing about getting up six in the morning to go to the market. But after one month, she started to feel more confident.

Today, Ma Esther earns LD$5000 (nearly USD50) per month from the things she sells. "I am very happy that I am selling and earning money even though I have a disability. Now I think that I can depend on my own skill. There is no tension in my life."

Esther has social standing in the community, a bank account in a nearby micro finance institution and is saving some money for the future, she said.

As secretary for the local network of people with disabilities, she knows how fortunate she has been to get training from attending workshops on disability. "I would urge employers to look past people's disabilities and value what they have to offer for their employment," she adds.

Indeed, being disabled should not be an impediment to one's dreams. Esther has become the embodiment of courage, strength and determination for many in Bong County.

Top Headlines: Liberia

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