Desperate For Help, Women Rock Crushers Plead TO Government, Partners For Empowerment

By Victoria Wesseh, FeJAL Mentorship Fellow, +231 77 814 7938

Lofa, Liberia, June 26, 2024: Women rock crushers especially single mothers in Lofa County are desperately pleading to the Government of Liberia and partners to empower them through vocational Skills training opportunities and programs that with help them contribute meaningfully to the society.

The women who are living in the Liberia Produced Marketing Cooperation, LPMC community in Voinjoima said they have been crushing rocks for several years for survival, thus prompting their calls to Government for the improvement of their living conditions through job creation and different opportunities to empower the ordinary people in that part of the country.

Speaking on behalf of the women, Princess Basay noted that though crushing rock has to do with physical strength, but they are left with no option as they have to raise money to feed their families and send their children to school.

“We are not men to have the kind of strength people would think we should have to do what we are doing, but we have no other alternative at this time”, she said. According to Madam Bassy, it is frustrating to see women doing such a job, but they must do it to provide for their families. “I am imagining how my life, and the lives of my children would have been by now if I did not get involved into this business”.

Madam Basay who is a high school dropout wants government of Liberia to come to their aid by establishing a vocational school where they can learn trade to keep proving for their families.

Also speaking, Faith Ben narrated her journey into rock crushing. She said it was as the result of her father’s death she started crushing rock to help her mother pay the bills.

“My Father was our everything, but since he dead everyone in our family is now looking up to me, including my mother who also stays with me”, Faith narrated. Faith who spoke in tears explained how she stopped in the 8th grade and dropped from school because there was no one to help her continue her education when her father died. She believed crushing rock is the only means of survival in the absence of employment.

Faith named the lack of protective materials such as gloves, rain boots, glasses as challenges they are facing as well as posting danger to their lives, “We crush the rock with our bare hands, no glasses to protect our eyes neither do we have boots and glasses to wear yet we do it because we have to survive”.

For her part, Oldma Kormassa Garwu who is one of the oldest women crushing rock in the community, narrated that she has been crushing rocks since 2003. The 55-year-old woman who is a mother of several children and grandchildren said it is through rock crushing she is managing her family as a single parent. “Before now, people really used to buy from us when the UN Mission was here because a lot of people were employed and constructing homes, but these days, if few customers buy from you one or two times a week, it will take more than two weeks before one can receive a customer again”.

For her part, the Deputy Gender Minister for Policy and Planning Mr. Curtis V. Dorley revealed that the protection of women and children is key on the Ministry’s program. According to Deputy Minister Dorley, the Ministry of Gender through the government of Liberia is working on plans which will be launch soon to ensure that single mothers, vulnerable women have the fullest support.

According to the Deputy Gender Minister, the Ministry’s plan is basically empowering single mothers and vulnerable thus stopping them from going through difficulties to support their children and to also stop them from doing business such as rock crushing which posses danger to their lives.

Mr Dorley further emphasized that they are working in line with other ministries such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor among others. He encouraged the women to be patient; saying in the soonest possible time there will be success stories for them.

Rock Crushing is a major source of earning for many women in Liberia. They crushed rocks to sell and raise money to send their children to schools and provide for their needs. World Bank 2024 report highlights that 3 out of 10 people in Monrovia are living in poverty in Liberia. This stark disparity between urban and rural areas poses a significant challenge to poverty reduction efforts in Liberia.

This content was produced by the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) Mentorship Fellow, through the support of Internews USAID Year III Media Activity Reporting Program.

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