China ‘Rescues’ 19-Yr-Old Liberian Mother, Others

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MONROVIA – One of China’s representative ‘technical training’ Units—Companies—in Liberia, under the China-Liberia Friendship, has absorbed dozens of young Liberians into its fold. Its name is China-Aided Liberia Bamboo & Rattan Weaving and Vegetable Planting Technical Assistance Project. 

Report by Samuel G. Dwweh, Contributor

The Company is housed in the squared of connected white concrete buildings, located in the ‘SKD Community’, named after Liberia’s 18th President—Samuel Kanyon Doe, and less than twenty yards away from the fence Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex. 

One of the intakes is Rebecca Flomo, born in 1999.

“I’m enjoying this work,” Rebecca told this reporter at her assignment area, on the Vegetable side of the compound on Monday, December 10, 2018, and flashed smiles revealing white teeth. Her assignment post contained eggplants, cucumber, pepper, gourd, cowpea, bean, and water melon. 

Rebecca sprayed water over some part of the farm, inspected some of the leaves, and turned to the interviewer. “I came here in July, of this year, to learn how to grow vegetables, after I dropped out of school, in the sixth grade, and after my uncle who was supporting me died in June, 2015,” she said further.

Rebecca also told me she has children.

“I have two children—a girl, five years old; and a boy, three years,” she said.

An indigene from Lofa County, in the North-West part of Liberia, the young mother said she lives alone with one of her two children in a room in the ELWA Community (near her learning center) and is self-supported.

“I want to learn this work well, so that I will make plenty money from it, and no man will bluff me,” she said, and appealed left to continue with her task.

A partition, of net, separated Rebecca’s post from another vegetable portion under three young men—Daddyboy Karr, age 20, of Grand Bassa County; Jerry Karmo, age 26, of Margibi County;  and Marcus Watson, age 24, of Grand Cape Mount County.

“We are preparing this spot from seeds of other vegetables,” Daddyboy Karr, the leader of the ‘preparation team’, told this reporter inhaling enough scent from manure of pigs and fertilizer mixed with the soil being pruned by the three young Liberians. 

Daddyboy said he joined the Chinese Company in 2015, few weeks after his arrival from his County of nativity. 

On coming into the fold of this Chinese Company, each of the boys gave the reason given by their female colleague on the other side of the partition.

At the Bamboo and Ratten Weaving section, a group of  over thirty young men and ladies were busy on their respective tasks under a shed made from aluminum. 

“My name is Amelia Johnson,” one of the female trainees, spraying a rattan chair, introduced herself to this reporter. “I joined this Chinese training Company in 2017. I’m enjoying this work, as you can see me, because this work is making me depending on myself and preparing me for a brighter future.” After spraying, she beckoned to two other ladies to take the chair into the sun outside to dry.

Amelia said she is an indigene of Rivergee County, she is 32 years old, and she has five children.

The supervisor of Amelia’s all-female group, Mr. Jiang Ding An, kept darting his attention from one working trainee to another, grinning and nodding his head in satisfaction of performance.

One of the males introduced himself to the journalists.

“My name is Jackson Jallah, twenty eight years old, from Lofa County,” he said, and then turned to his task: blowing electric fire, from a metal tube, onto a rattan stick to be easily bent into a required shape. “I love this work and I’m learning it to get money to support my family now and in the future.”

Jackson and his colleagues were being supervised by a Liberian teacher.

“My name is Joe K. Williams, teaching Bamboo or Craft Technology here. I am forty eight years old, and from Maryland County,” the Liberian teacher narrated to this writer.

Joe said he was in the first batch of Liberians that started with this Company when it began its training program first at the Monrovia Vocational & Training Center (MVTC) on 13th day of June, 2007.

Only two official resting days announced by the management for the trainees.

“Saturday and Sunday,” trainee Nancy Peters, age 21, mother of one child, an indigene of Grand Bassa County, answered to this reporter’s inquiry of official rest time.

This Company—Bamboo & Rattan Weaving, and Vegetable Plant Project—was established in China in 1877, and opened operations in Liberia in 2007 during the Presidency of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Company’s Liberia Project Director, Nie Yongdou explained to a group of journalists at his office on December 10, 2018.

He said the Company’s arrival into Liberia was an off-shoot from a meeting between Presidents Ellen Sirleaf and Hu Jintao. 

“At the moment, we have around eight hundred Liberian students, drawn from different Counties of Liberia,” said Mr. Yongdou, who has a Liberian traditional name, “Flomo”, speaking through an interpreter, Pi Jun Yue, Assistant Project Director.

Mr. Yongdou said all funding for the Company’s operations in Liberia is provided by the Central Government of China, and the Government of Liberia provides the ‘facilities’—office, electricity, water; and recruitment of students done through the Ministry of Youth & Sports of Liberia.

Clients for the bamboo/rattan products are Furniture Stores and Resorts in Liberia, while the harvested vegetables go to Supermarkets, Mr. Yongdou added. 

Some of the Counties the Company has a presence are Lofa, Bomi, Bong, and Margibi.

“Liberia has a rich soil and rich bamboo reserve. We want to exploits these natural resources to train Liberians and provide employment opportunities for them on the China-Liberia Friendship,” Mr. Yongdou emphasized.

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