By: Our Contributor
Monrovia-June 8, 2023: It is over one (1) month since the Newport Street compound of the ‘Group of 77’, a welfare institution that is made of disabled, has been overshadowed by garbage, despite calls for remedy by the affected persons.
An independent probe launched in the demeaning disposal of waste (of all kinds) in the group’s administrative compound, shows that the garbage which has spread towards the offices of the building and escalated as high as a hill, has regrettably led to serious illness of scores of the dwellers.
With this being the second report on this unhealthy situation, members, and leaders of the Group of 77, have acknowledged that the compound has been engulfed in the unhygienic situation for over a month, a condition that has now made them believe that they have been disregarded, ignored, and forgotten by the George Weah’s administration.
Jeremiah Cooper, a Coordinator of the Group of 77, while in an interaction with WOMEN’s TV-Liberia, Thursday, June 8, 2023, lamented in distress that the government has no interest in the survivability of persons with disabilities.
“Government don’t care for persons with disabilities in this country, that’s the only hold on, their concerns have not been drawn to us, so they don’t care so we are just sitting down, maybe they want for us to die or for the dirt to kill some of us, that’s why”, he lamented.
In another interview weeks ago, it was made known by Mr. Cooper that the garbage was created when they rallied efforts to clean the drainages, that often resulted to flood during the wet seasons.
Following said intervention, he said they were advised to deposit the garbage in the compound due to their condition, and it would have been collected by the Monrovia City Corporation in time.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned, as it has been over a month and the situation is becoming more complicated daily, even though efforts have been made by their leadership through several calls to the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), for the dirt to be removed.
Prior to this, Cooper confirmed that in 2022, they also engaged the Ministry of Public Works, the National Disaster Management and Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), to clean the drainage, as the smell led to the death of one of their members in May of last year, but sadly their efforts didn’t yield fruits.
As a peaceful citizen, Cooper earlier vowed to engage the MCC constructively and administratively, to ensure that the garbage is removed, but it seems like his method has failed him, especially when he’s now convinced that the government doesn’t care.
Excluding the garbage pollution, Jeremiah Cooper also disclosed that they are confronted with scores of other challenges, but as one of those that’s working in government, he feels insecure and unprotected to talk about it, as he might likely lose his job.
“Now, we who are working in government if we say things that are maybe helpful to you, maybe those who are your bosses, it may be on the contrary to them and they will seek your removal into office and now as a disabled person in Liberia, there’s no job, degrees holders are going up and down and they are not getting job so to go into details some of us we are afraid, for us not to lose our job but it is very much pathetic,” he articulated.
However, he confirmed that since the ascendency of the George Weah administration, their support have been minimized and unstable and often delayed.
Cooper further disclosed that since December 2022, they have not received a single benefit from government, a situation that has resulted to a lot of their members going to the streets to beg, while those that can’t go out are struggling with the agony of hunger, and distress.
Among other challenges, he highlighted the issue of storm that often embarrass them, the lack of electricity and a lot more.
Synonymous to Jeremiah Cooper’s testimony, several other members of the group confirmed that they are engulfed with a whole lots of challenges, including food, the garbage and other necessities.
“We have just been managing by the grace of God, sometimes people come and help you with small thing to eat dry rice, that’s how I am surviving and me I don’t go in the street to begging because my health condition can’t even permit me,” a member of the Group of 77 noted.
However, with all of the different concerns by members of the Group, the office of the Vice President is yet to speak to the matter, even though it is one of the institutions that she has direct mandate and supervision over.
The Group of 77, under the office of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, is a welfare institution that is primarily charged with the responsibility of seeking the well-being of people living with disability or multiple physical challenges.
Few years ago, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor unveiled plans by the Liberian Government to capacitate and make independent the Group of ‘77 through the provision of programs that will afford the organization the opportunities to sustain itself.
“The idea that I have with the oversight responsibility is to make sure that the Group of ‘77 becomes independent. We now have people living with disabilities who have earned master degrees. What we were trying to do before this latest crisis was to get organizations to hire them,” Taylor noted.
She stated in an interview with a local news outlet that the vision of ensuring the independence of members of the Group of ‘77 revolves around the provision of basic education and trainings through scholarships to members of the institution.
Moreover, the Vice President said that the group managed to attract some computer donations from the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia to e establish a computer literacy program for members in Montserrado County.
According to her, the Group would have subsequently gotten involved with the planting of tree crops that are capable of providing proceeds for about 40 to 50 years as a means of providing a sustained way of taking care of its members.