Liberia: Jeety Feeds Over 4000 On Independence Day
MONROVIA – Sonnieboy Jallah (not his real name) trekked from Point Four (4) Community on the Bushrod Island to the head offices of the Jeety Trading Corporation, along with his friends who are disadvantaged youths, just to have a plate of sumptuous meal each and avoid going to bed on empty stomach on the day marking Liberia’s 174th Independence celebration.
The distance is about 20 minutes drive on a commercial vehicle, and nearly an hour walk on foot.
Located in the slum of Vai Town, Jeety Trading Corporation is the premier in the sale of hardware and other household materials.
It is owned by a renowned Indian businessman, Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, who is commonly known as “Jeety” in Liberia. He is the immediate past Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia.
“Jeety” launched his Home-Cooked Hot Meal Program in February 2017to help alleviate the high rate of hunger and poverty in Liberia. Since its inauguration, the program has provided meals to over 2M Liberians. It gained prominence during the first outbreak of the Coronavirus in Liberia in March 2020.
But on July 26, 2021, the program set another record by high-jumping from its regular distribution of between 800 to 1000 plates a day to less fortunate Liberians, including physically challenged, visually impaired, mentally derailed, disadvantaged youths, children, among others, to over 4,200 plates of rice, juice, water and cake.
The huge distribution and extra package for the beneficiaries were intended to put smiles on their faces and ensure that they do not go to bed on an empty stomach as they observed that nation’s Independence.
The beneficiaries came from several areas across Montserrado County, including slum communities and ghettoes on the Bushrod Island, Central Monrovia, Paynesville, Sinkor, as well as the Monrovia Central Prison, among others.
At the prison compound, “Jeety” provided over 1200 plates of hot cooked meal along with juices, sachets of water, along with anti-COVID-19 materials including 15 plastic buckets with faucets, one bucket of chlorine, one hundred bottles of hand sanitizers, three pieces of thermometers, and 1,500 pieces of face masks.
According to him, the gesture at the prison facility was intended to help both the inmates and the prison authorities to combat the new variant of the virus in the country.
Since the launch of the program, Sonnieboy, who is also a disadvantaged youth and a father of a five-year-old son, has been one of the proud beneficiaries.
“I didn’t go to do my normal hustle today because today is a holiday and so, I decided to come here and just eat my food, go home and sleep. I have been coming here for almost four years now” Sonnieboy stated.
Sonnieboy loads commercial vehicles with passengers, salvaged dumpsite for fairly used electronic materials, old cans, rubbers and others to sell for a living.
“After doing my hustle, I come here every day to make sure I put food in my stomach. Sometimes, I can starve myself because I know I will eat at Jeety place. Not a day I have come here without getting my own of plate”, he added.
Standing in line at the corporate offices to receive their share of the hot cooked meal remains a normal routine for Sonnieboy and hundreds of others less fortunate and underprivileged Liberian youths, children and elderly men and women in Monrovia and its environs.
“Whenever we see the banner on the white pickup and the blue truck, we know straight our papay Jeety is coming to give us food”, Anthony Yarkpah, a resident of the Zimbabwe Block in Paynesville stated.
Vehicles in the convoy that normally transport the plates of meal, juice and sachets of water and others bear separate banners with inscriptions: Hot Meals Prepared and Share With Love by Jeety Trading Corporation.
The beneficiaries normally chased the convoy to stand in line as the distribution is done on a first come first serve basis, with an exception given to older folks and physically challenged less fortunate citizens.
“Jeety is just like a father to some of us because to feed human beings is not an easy thing. Every blessing day, we received food from him; In fact, Jeety can be in front of everyone serving. I can’t even tell when last I ate cake, but today, I am happy that a piece of cake is entering my stomach today”, a young lady identified as Lady Rough stated shortly after receiving her plate of meal and taking a bite of the cake on Independence Day in Sinkor.
Gesture reduces crimes
“As for me, I cannot say I am perfect because I have been doing lot of bad things. I normally commit crimes and escape whenever I am hungry or I need some money to sustain my bad habit (of taking in drugs). But when I eat this heavy food that Jeety can bring here and go home, I can’t even be thinking about taking things or doing harm to anyone”, one of the leaders of a local ghetto stated.
In Liberia, most disadvantaged youths are noted for harassing and snatching away valuable items including cell phones, gold chain, and others from motorists, commuters and other peaceful Liberian citizens and foreign nationals.
They claimed that their involvement into unwholesome practices is due to the lack of support and adequate care from government and others to rehabilitate them into Liberian society.
There have been no adequate and robust rehabilitation and detoxification programs to reintegrate these young Liberians into society.
Mr. Sachdeva pointed out that his immense and untiring contributions to humanity are due to the high level of compassion he has for Liberia and its citizens.
He noted that despite being an Indian by nationality, Liberia and its citizens remain at the center of his heart, and as such, he will continue to help beef the efforts of the government and others to combat hunger in the nation.
“I have come to identify with you on this Independence Day and to also see that prisoners have a joyous independence day while they are being reprimanded in prison. We have brought these items for the entire population of the prison compound. We want to ensure that they are well taken care of even though they are in prison”.
Mr. Sachdeva reneged to attach a monetary value to his Home Cooked Meal Feeding Program, adding that, he remains grateful for the passion he has to identify with Liberians, especially those who are in need.
He, however, reiterated his vow to die or be cremated in Liberia in keeping with his religious faith due to the love and compassion he has for Liberia and its people.
“I love Liberia more than anything else. This is my home and I want to die here. Even if I die elsewhere, I want to be buried and cremated here”.
Despite being an age-old nation, hunger and poverty remain at a higher peak in Liberia.
“Jeety” has been persistently commended by scores of government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps and others for his immense contributions towards fighting against hunger and helping to improve the living conditions of ordinary and less fortunate Liberians by providing hundreds of employment opportunities through his numerous businesses, scholarships, among others.