Liberia: Electrocuted AFL Personnel Laments Abandonment in Morocco

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MONROVIA – A Sergeant of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), who got electrocuted while on duty, has lamented on severe hardship and constraints he continues to encounter since he was flown out of the country to seek advance medical treatment.

It can be recalled that on October 19, 2020, Sergeant George Kaifa was electrocuted when a gun he was carrying mistakenly “hooked” a high-tension wire of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), while deserting his post to pick up his ration (food) from the kitchen during the night hours.

The incident occurred at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) barracks in Monrovia.

He lost one of his breasts, thumbs, and the scars on his body remain uncountable as a result of numerous surgeries conducted by doctors assigned at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center- where he was admitted following the tragic incident.

Following months of minor surgeries and treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical and at his residence in the Borough of New Kru Town, the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of National Defense, succumbed to multiple media reports and pressure from the public and sent Sergeant Kaifa for treatment to Morocco.

He is being treated at the Hospital Center Ibn Rochd in Casablanca.

Speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone from Morocco Monday, November 8, Sergeant Kaifa complained that life is getting unbearable for him in that part of the world.

He claimed that apart from the treatment of a wound on his leg as a result of incident, no improvement has been made on his overall health condition.

He noted that though he was taken to Morocco for the conduct of a “reconstructive surgery” as recommended by doctors from the United States while in Liberia, additional surgeries have been done on him by doctors in Morocco.

Sergeant Kaifa hands remain almost useless due to the severity of the burns sustained.

He further claimed that his condition has gone from “bad to worse”.

According to him, doctors assigned at the Moroccan hospital have not been able to conduct successful surgeries to ensure that his hands are usable.

Sergeant Kaifa disclosed that doctors placed iron into one of his hands to ensure that his fingers remain in position.

“My fingers were closed together but they move them from apart. They put me to sleep and they did a surgery on my hand and my side because they told me that they were saving my small finger from being cut. They took a flesh from my side and placed it on top my left hand. I thought they were going to make my hands to move again, but they kept it in a cast.”

“My hands are still the same. The way you saw my body with scars before I came to Morocco, my body is still the same. The only thing they have done is the fingers they have moved from apart and the sore on my foot. I am just sitting here. They will tell me that I will do this test or that other test every day. My condition has moved from bad to worse”.

The scars

Sergeant Kaifa pointed out that one of the main reasons he opted for advance medical treatment was to ensure the removal of the multiple scars on his body.

But on the contrary, he disclosed that Moroccan doctors have not been able to do so for a little over nine months now.

“Major Joseph Kowo told me that the doctors said they can’t remove the scars, because when they remove it, the scars will grow back. But I said no, they should still remove it and let me see if it will grow back again. He said they will be giving me injection that will last for two years and government cannot be keeping me in Morocco”.

Major Kowo is the Commanding Officer of the AFL Health Services.

Sergeant Kaifa pointed out that authorities of the Ministry of National Defense, including the Chief of Staff of the AFL, General Prince Johnson, have been allegedly misinformed about his overall health status in Morocco.

No per diem

He pointed out that since he arrived in Morocco for treatment, no per diem is being provided to him by the government.

According to him, only his salaries are being received by his family in Monrovia on a monthly basis.

Sergeant Kaifa pointed out that the Ministry paid the school fees of his two children for a year, but is allegedly reneging to do so for this academic year 2021/2022.

He noted that his salary of US$200 cannot cater to the needs of his family members back home.

Sergeant Kaifa has three children-Grace, Georgina and Evelyn.

“The only thing the government is giving me here is money for food and for car pay to go to the hospital. I am renting apartment in Monrovia; my children have to go to school and I have to feed them. They are not giving me per diem or to even add my salary up. My big brother had to credit money for my children to go to school this year”.

He claimed that his little income is being used to also shoulder his children medical bills and pay rental fees for the house his family stays in.

Sergeant Kaifa added that most often, his children are allegedly denied medical treatment at various hospitals and medical centers under the insurance of the Ministry of National Defense due to the misplacement of their medical forms.

Abandonment

The ailing AFL soldier claimed that since he went to Morocco, authorities of the Ministry of National Defense have not done enough to encourage him.

Sergeant Kaifa added that most often he is obliged to call his bosses back home expressing his concerns and plights.

“Nobody has come to visit me here even though Mayor Kowo and General Johnson said they were coming Morocco. They have said they are due to come Morocco but no money. From the time I came Morocco, nobody has called directly to ask me how I coming on or how is the surgery”.

Blocked on social media

Sergeant Kaifa emphasized that he has not been able to reach Major Kowo for a prolong period of time now.

“Major Powo has blocked me on the social media. He brought me here and he is not talking to me. He blocked me because I told him that I am not a beggar to him and I will not come back to Liberia cripple”.

Protest At President’s house

Sergeant Kaifa is threatening to stage a peaceful protest along with his children and other family members before the residence of President George Manneh Weah if he returns into the country without any improvement on his present condition.

President Weah is the Commander-In-Chief of the AFL.

“I told Major Kowo that he was the cause for my problem to be like this and if they bring me back Liberia-the following day I will go to the President’s house along with my family-I will sit down there and make sure he sees me”.

 “They tear my whole side and they want me to come back with these kinds of marks on me? They want me to come back cripple? Other people wanted to help me to go America, but they did not want me to go there. I have always said to them ‘I can’t go back Liberia like this. I am not feeling pains like before; but I can wear jacket, cover myself or put hands in my pockets before I can go out”.

Sergeant Kaifa disclosed that though multiple appeals have been made by his bosses to discourage him from reaching the matter to the President, he will be constrained to do so if he returns to Liberia without proper treatment. 

He wants President Weah to see reason and intervene in the matter to ensure that he undergoes a plastic surgery in another country.

Somewhere better

“If they can’t find means for my hands to be strengthened, let them take me from here and find somewhere better because since nine months now, my hands are still the same even though the hospital still treating me ”.

Sometimes ago, the Commanding Officer of the AFL Health Services, Joseph Kowo, accused Sgt. Kaifa of having a “mindset” to only travel to the United States for his reconstructive surgery on grounds that he has a relative residing in that area.

 “Kaifa and his whole family came to the EBK Barracks and they met with the surgeon who is a collaborator to the military. His hands are deformed and scars are on his skin and his situation is not something that is life threatening” Major Powo stated.

He continued: “The surgeon said he needs multiple surgeries at stages, but he refused because he already has a mindset to leave the country. The surgeon came with all the dressing materials to do the work. The surgeon requested for one of his fingers to be cut because it is stopping the other fingers from moving; but he refused again”.

The government complained of the lack of funding to ensure that Sgt. Kaifa receive adequate treatment in the US.

No law for school fees

The Chief of Staff of the AFL, General Prince Johnson told FrontPage Africa via telephone that there is no law that mandates the payment of school fees for children of any injured solider of the AFL.

He, however, admitted that the school fees of Sergeant Kaifa’s children were previously paid by the AFL based on “goodwill”.

General Johnson denied claims made by Sergeant Kaifa that he has been abandoned by authorities of the Ministry of National Defense.

“There is no law that requires the ministry to pay for wounded personnel children school fees. It was just a good will gesture. Our focus is to give him the best treatment in Morocco and return to job. No law says the Ministry is responsible for injured personnel children school fees”.

“How can we neglect him when in fact we sent a military nurse aid to accompany him in February 2021 and just returned to Liberia last month October 2021 leaving him in the care of Dr. Thomas Cole”.

General Johnson further pointed out that a decision was reached by authorities of the ministry “to bring the military nurse back to Liberia after 10 months because George has improved significantly”.

Sergeant Kaifa, who was regarded as a loyal, hardworking and committed soldier of the AFL, appears to be giving up on life now.

He feels abandoned and neglected by his own country even though he got electrocuted while serving the nation and its people.

The delay by the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of National Defense to delay or ignore a plea from Sergeant Kaifa and his family to seek medical treatment abroad following the incident remains a contributing factor responsible for the current situation.

A plastic surgery, which is cost intensive, could be one of the best options to give the ailing AFL soldier, who has been deformed as a result of the incident, a normal life.

Sergeant Kaifa, who cannot care for himself properly, has threatened to commit suicide if adequate care and treatment is not accorded him during these difficult times in his life.

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