Liberia: “Jeety” Feeds Thousands On Christmas Day
MONROVIA – Solomon James (not his real name), a 32 year old disadvantaged youth, salvaged dumpsites on a regular basis for fairly used materials to sell and earn money to put food on the table for his family.
Disadvantaged youths are commonly known are commonly known as “zogos” in Liberia
A day before the Christmas, he had gone from one dumpsite to another in central Monrovia in search of used materials to provide daily bread for his family of four. He was unsuccessful and this compelled him and his family to go to bed on empty stomachs.
He intensified his search on the holiday by salvaging dump sites elsewhere, but he couldn’t find any used item or material that he could sell for small cash.
Feeling so disappointed, Solomon returned to the famous Pelhum Building on Center Street in Monrovia. From the expression on his face, his fiancée and children (4 and 6 years respectively) knew that the “hustle” was not in his favor again.
The abandoned and dilapidated “Pelhum Building” located opposite the famous Palm Grove Cemetery, serves as home for hundreds of “zogos”, including women and children.
Solomon, who felt asleep after returning from his hustle, hurriedly woke up when hundreds of his peers, shouted “Jeety here! Jeety here!!, Jeety here!!!”.
Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, former Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia, is commonly known as “Jeety” in the country.
He is the owner of several businesses in Liberia, including the his trademark and signature business-Jeety Trading Corporation-the premier dealer in hardware materials.
“Jeety” and his team had gone to the Pelhum Building to provide sumptuous hot cooked meal, cake and soft drinks to the disadvantaged youths.
Solomon and his family were among the first to stand in the queue to receive their shares. They were also among the hundreds, who were fed by “Jeety” at the Pelhum Building.
“I was wondering where to get food from for my woman and children to eat because for almost one week now, we have not eaten anything sound. We ate gari (food made from cassava) since yesterday afternoon and this is our first food here today and it’s already in the afternoon”, Solomon stated.
He continued: “When I came from hustling, tears set in my eyes because I never had anything for my family and today is big day. I just went upstairs to relax. I was even thinking about different means to find food for my family; but sleep carried me. The noise my friends were making woke me up. Jeety, God will bless you for always thinking about us”.
Dressed in a blue long sleeved shirt, black trouser and wearing a pair of gloves, “Jeety” handed over a plate of food and drink to the disadvantaged youths one after the other.
Their scents, unpleasant looks or appearances were nothing to bother about as the Indian business tycoon’s smile and friendly posture greeted the beneficiaries.
“If we can be looking dirty and smelling like this and this man (Jeety) leaves his family and home on Christmas day to come and give us food himself-we don’t have anything to give him. Only God can pay him for us”, one Winnie stated after receiving a plate of food and drink.
For years now, “Jeety” has been providing sumptuous hot cooked meal and drinks to less fortunate and disadvantaged youths at the famous Pelhum Building.
Disadvantaged youths or “zogos” at the famous “Zimbabwe” base in Paynesville, Sinkor and other areas also benefitted from the gesture.
“I knew our papay Jeety was coming today so, I didn’t even bother myself to go work for people or throw their garbage away for food today”, Samuel Dennis stated.
Hundreds of children of less fortunate Liberian parents were also served a plate of hot cooked meal and a bottle of soft drink each.
In the street corners and before closed stores in Central Monrovia, “Jeety” was seen waking up mentally derailed and homeless elderly folks to give them their share of the sumptuous meal.
In a brief chat with reporters shorter after the initiative, Dr. Sachdeva vowed to continue to serve humanity.
He pointed out that Liberia and its citizens have given him a lot since he came into the country, and as such, he feels obligated to continue to give back.
He emphasized that identifying with the needy and underprivileged in Liberia remains an excitement that cannot be forgotten
“Jeety” believes that Christmas, which is celebrated worldwide as the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a time for sharing with the underprivileged and needy.
He added that his decision taken to continuously identify with the needy on a daily basis is based on biblical references.
“I like to give to people because it’s more rewarding to give than to receive. I believe that givers never lack anything. I always like to give to also inspire others”.
“It is good that during Christmas we share with our brothers and sisters who cannot afford. If we are smiling and are happy with our families, let’s make our less fortunate brothers and sisters happy too”.
The distribution of sumptuous hot cooked meal to thousands of less fortunate Liberians residing in slum communities in Monrovia and other parts adjacent is a normal routine of the top Indian businessman.
“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.
Dr. Sachdeva commonly known as “Jeety” continues to receive accolade and commendations from 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.
He remains the only foreign business entrepreneur combating against hunger on a daily basis in Liberia by providing feeding for thousands of less fortunate elderly folks and disadvantaged youths.
Many believed that the initiative launched by “Jeety” will immensely help to reduce the high crime rate in the Liberian society.
“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 the society.