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By: Leila B. Gbati

Over 3000 Single-mothers from slum communities across Liberia, are calling on the national Government to increase the budgetary allotment of the project “Reclaiming Liberia’s Beaches and Waterways”.

The women are from New Kru Town, ELWA, West Point, Banjor-Hotel Africa, King Gray, PHP, Sinkor, and Congo Town.

The Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterways Project, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) was established in 2011 during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to give a facelift to waterways and beaches in Liberia, and to help provide employment opportunities for scores of slum dwellers.

The Project was pronounced closed on March 1, 2022, by Youth and Sports Minister Zoegar Wilson but recently the Government of Liberia under President Weah taught it wise to allot 1 million in the 2023 budget for the project to resume in February however, those that were benefiting from the project before its closure has reorganized themselves and decided to start volunteering before the resumption of the project.

The volunteers/beneficiaries who are mostly women are complaining that the money is very small to run the project for one year as such they are appealing to the Government of Liberia mainly President Weah and their various lawmakers to increase the 1 million that was allotted to the project to 4 million because according to them the number of people on the project is huge and the money they get at the end of the month is not sufficient.

Speaking in an interview with reporters on Thursday, January 26, 2023, the women from the various communities mentioned that they are happy that the project is about to start because it is through the project they are able to fend for their children so they don’t want for the project to close again but continues.

According to the women, the majority of them didn’t go to school because their parents never had the hand to do so as such it is the work that is helping them if the government does not come to their aid how are they going to live? The women also appealed that they want the project to leave MYS and to go back under Maritime Authority because at the time the project was under Maritime they were getting paid on time but since the MYS took over things are not going fine to the extent they don’t get pay after 5-6 months before it was closed.

Veronica Doe, a single mother of West Point and a beneficiary of the project explaining how the project has impacted her life said that it is a good initiative that has been helping to send her children to school before it was closed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Veronica narrated that she is happy as the project expects to resume in February emphasizing that she has seven children and she lost her husband in 2000 therefore, she is telling the government thanks and at the same time appealing to them for their salary to be increased.

“Let them add our salary up because cleaning feces is not an easy task, this work we are doing is very huge and it is helping us and Malaria is not killing us again. When we were not cleaning this place you and I will not be able to stand her because the dirt mainly feces. We send our children to school and pay rent through this work so we asking the government to help us, especially Representative Dickson Sebo that is talking for us. Let President Weah come to our aid to add our salary up,” she said.

Tete Parleh from West Point also speaking, begged the Government for the project to stay because it is helping to do a lot of things for her.

“We are begging the President and Representatives to help us and talk for us. We are also appealing to residents to please stop toileting on the beach, they should use the public toilet and not the beach again,” Tete said.

32 years old Bethverlyn Koon from the Borough of New Kru Town also speaking said that she started benefiting from the project in 2014 and it has affected her life as a single mother of two children.

Bethverlyn stated that she was able to take care of her children and send them to school but since the project was closed for 2 years her children drop out of school because of no money.

She admitted that since the closure of the project things has not been for her but since the project is about to resume she is happy.

For his part, the Project Supervisor of West Point Beach, Eric Kwahin said the Project Reclaiming Liberia’s beaches and Waterways got initiated in 2011 by former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and since then the project has been rolling on till this current administration under President Weah and a year or two the project was suspended but as community dwellers knowing the level of impacts the project has had on their community despite the suspension of the project they taught it necessary to be able to volunteer in order to reduce the level of health hazard in the community.

Eric added that the people that are working are single parents mostly women who are not financially potent and have been with the project for a very long time and they taught to volunteer since the suspension of the project.

Speaking further, he mentioned that there has been an incremental level of people on the project because they were about 350 when they started but currently they are about 1017 person’s persons on the project only in West Point.

He emphasized that the project has helped to reduce the level of health conditions in the community and has also brought economic benefits to the people.

“When the project started people will work and got 70 USD at the end of the month and so it has been able to fend for families and then pay children’s school fees and take care of our different house rent out of this project but on the overall the level of sanitation it has brought to the community. West point has been one of the places that many people have always complained about being disease-pro but it will interest you that since the origin of this project, the level of sanitary conditions in terms of how we have been able to reduce malaria and diarrhea is uncanny,” he said.

In conclusion, Eric appealed to the government to be able to step the amount up so they can be able to recruit more people for the project.

The Head Monitor of Banjor and Hotel Africa beaches, Sylvester Gelegbel also speaking appealed to the Government to redirect the project under the Maritime Authority instead of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Sylvester mentioned that the MYS activities are mainly youth-oriented and the Liberia Beaches and Waterways Project is focused on older folks who are between the ages of 45-65 years.


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