Liberia: Sleeping On the Street to Be Enlisted in Afl

Liberian women between the ages of 18 to 35 years have congregated at the Ministry of National Defense lately to secure their spaces ahead of the recruitment exercise for the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in mid-December of this year.

Some of those women have been sleeping in the open space, outside of the facility at the ministry of defense and had vow to remain there until the preparatory fitness exercise is over.

The preparatory fitness exercise started Monday, November 22, 2021, but women started congregating on Sunday, November 21, 2021 ahead of the process. Most of the women said they have been sleeping in the main street outside the ministry of defense and will continue to do so until the female pre-recruitment exercise is complete.

"I am here for the army training of the female my distance far, so I came here since Sunday for me to get space to enter. I've been sleeping right at the fence because I do not have transportation to be going and coming because of my distance," Mercy Brownell.

"The process started Monday but because we live far away, so we were here Sunday to catch space and today mark our third day; I have been lying right by the fence here where you see me sitting," another female identified as Cecelia Kollie stated.

Some of these women see the exercise as a way to get even with their male-counterparts and an opportunity to contribute to nation building.

"You know, many at times Liberian women just feel that they cannot do anything and so I felt to myself that I can do this, that's what encouraged me to be a part of this process. We are not really here for money, but to serve our country, so even I can be in the army for five months without taking pay I wouldn't mind," Marious S. Johnson.

"I am here to join the army because I believe anything men can do in this world, that, I can do it. For me I have the passion for the AFL really so I do not want to kill my dream.

Others said they see the army recruitment as an answer to their long standing passion to serve their country while others sees it as a job opportunity.

"I want to join the army because I am tired passing on the street. And if I do not get work to do, I will put my hand in something that will not make me to look fine; that is why I decided to join the army to help myself," Princess Dorbor.

According to the Ministry of Defense women who are participating in the prerecruitment exercise fitness exercise stand a chance of forming part of the armed forces of Liberia recruitment that is expected take place in late December of this year.

When questioned about the safety of these women, Assistant Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of National Defense, Sam Collins said the recruitment did not require them to do so.

"When we say 5 in the morning or 6 in the morning, we mean that everybody come to get their space so somebody will not want to pick up from way po-river to come so they will find the nearest place around the facility so we did not tell them to do so, but I think they want to be part of the system so it was their own choosing," he added.

Collins said they call for more female to joined the AFL is aim at meeting the United Nations requirement of women involvement in peace keeping.

According to him, the exercise seeks to recruit additional two hundred females into the Liberian Armed Forces, but said the number of women congregating for the exercise is four times more than the projected number.

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