Liberia News: Crushing Rocks For Survival

By Jamesetta D Williams

Monrovia-February-29-TNR:Children in Liberia are going through difficult times due to their parents’ inability to meet their daily needs as a result of the level of poverty in the tiny West African state.

Children as young as 5-10 years are facing the harsh reality of life in their early ages as many of them are made to undertake hard works including the of crushing rocks as a means of survival. Some have not even enter the door of a school but are being used by their parents or guidance to become early bread winners due to extreme poverty in the country.

Considering the country’s economic challenges, many kids and parents who are financially unstable are forced to embark on such work as a means of survival. Sun, rain, the kids are made to face the harsh reality of life. They crush rocks on a daily basis to help their parents get their daily food and other necessities to keep the families moving.

In the West African basin, Liberian children are among children who face extreme poverty. Many of them lack formal education due to the joblessness syndrome in Liberia. Some of their parents are not working to sustain the family thus, forcing the kids to become bread winners.

In Liberia an estimated 80 percent of parents are not employed. Some who are employed earn little to take care of the entire family. Their little earnings cannot send all of the kids to school a situation that has caused most of the children to join the family in catering to their various homes.

Little Wilson at the Kissi Camp Rocks Crusher narrated that crushing rocks in  Kissi Capm is a very slow process. “Before then, the rocks businesses used to go faster, but for almost two years now the business has been slow,” Wilson age 10 said in an exclusive interview.

Like little Wilson, Princess Blamo an 18 year old girl in the 7thgrade and attends the Mary T Brownie School, said like many other kids in the country, she missed several years of education during the country’s devastating civil war coupled with extreme poverty. “But I’m still try to catch up and that is why I’m crushing rocks to earn some money to return to the classroom,” Princess confidently said.

Determined to complete her last years of school, Princess crushes rocks to pay for her fees, earning L$35 to L$40 per bucket. On good days, she fills seven buckets thus earning her few dollars which she usually saves for her education.

“I’m doing this because I don’t have any other work to do to sustain myself. It is through this rock I crush and sell to get money,”Princess added.

For Mercy, “I pay school fees once I get paid for my work, the rest of the money is spent on food.” Mercy is a student who like her peers, is constrained to crush rocks for survival. She really wants to become a high school graduate and further her education.

Ma Lorpu, an elderly woman said, “This is a very hard work, but we have nothing else to do and there has been no help from anywhere. I have no one to help me, I have no man. My six grandchildren and I live in a single room with my old mother. I’m just bursting these rocks for my children to be able to eat and for me to send them to school. This work is too hard, sometimes it makes you sick.”

Wilson narrated that he and his mom have been in the rocks crushing business for three years, by the efforts of the rocks business he was able to attend the Mary Brownie school but later he have to drop due to his mother’s illness.

Little Wilson added that getting the rocks out of the ground to sell is not an easy task. They usually sustain injuries from the digging of the rocks from the hole. In that, he has developed foot problems from the rocks and is unable to attend school again.

Melissa Redmond a 12 year-old girl also narrated, “There is no way for us to attend school due to the rock situation in that there are many challenges we as a kids usually face when it comes to rock crushing. We pray that the government will come to our aid.”

One of the victims from the rocks injuries narrated that she had spent her entire life on selling rocks when her mom and dad passed away. She said that she hasn’t entered school yet. According to her, the rocks are not making profit like before and as a result, they are financially unstable to send themself to school.

Many kids at the rocks, crushing area in Kissi Camp, want the government to help them with their education. “The rocks business is not helping us. We are just doing the business to get food to eat,” Melissa told our reporter as she narrated her ordeal. They said the money earn from the rocks can’t afford their school fees nowadays.

Princess and the other kids at the Rock Crushing Camp are appealing to the Joseph Boakai administration to help them acquire education for their future. “The rocks business is a challenge to our well-being because this has denied us education and we cannot be like other friends who are in school today,” Princess narrated in sorrowful tone as she continues with the rock crushing.

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