We have just returned from Sanniquellie, Nimba, where we went for the funeral of Prof. Dr. Joseph Saye Guannu. On the way back to Monrovia, we spent some time in Gompa, wrongly called Ganta. There in Gompa, we observed the life style of of many persons affected with the disease called leprosy. There is an area set aside for the Lepers so that their disease will not spread among the people, as we were informed by the Public Health Authority in Gompa. 

By Togba-Nah Tipoteh

When we visited the Lepers, we observed that they had used mud to make blocks to build  homes. They had also used another local substance, wood, to make furnitures, like chairs and tables. The Lepers were engaged in Value Addition, using most of all the human resource, the most important resource, and then other local resources to produce local products. In the production of local products, the Lepers increased employment, production and reduced prices for acceptable products.

Lepers, as we can clearly see, who are forbidden to socialize with others have the solution to societal problems. So, the Way Forward for the Better is to follow the good examples of the Lepers. This Way is also helpful in ending the curable disease of the Lepers. By showing the Way Forward, the Lepers are not only saying thank you to helpers but are are also giving back to Liberia. They are saying that Gratitude is Better Than Ingratitude. The Lepers continue to be grateful to those Liberians who treat them like human beings.

But the powers that be consider Lepers, like Women and Zogoes, to not be worthy of participation in decision-making that affects them. Generally, women are considered to be only good in the bed room and in the kitchen. Zogoes are even considered to be criminals. The Constitution of Liberia calls for democracy but the actions of the powers that be prevent the participation of the people, the very essence of democracy. In the midst of corruption, greed-riven entities are doing fund-raisers in the name of Zogoes, while depriving Zogoes of participatory rights as found in the Constitution of Liberia. If the powers that be were to consider the work of the Lepers to be important, Liberia would well on the road to poverty alleviation and off the road of the prevailing poverty generation. the Lepers are engaged in Value Addition in their use of local materials to produce goods locally for local consumption. Through the prioritization of Value Addition, poverty would be reduced and Liberia would be known on the world stage as a problem solving country. The lesson from the Lepers also help us to solve other societal problems in Liberia and elsewhere in the world.

Presently, climate change has become one of the biggest problems in the world. Well, Liberia has some of the best forests in the world. Forests in Liberia can help to solve the problem of climate change. The forests in Liberia can absorb the gas emissions from the industrial countries and give out oxygen to them through reforestation, as logs are being cut. But the greed-driven powers that be continue to export the logs, without engaging in reforestation. This deforestation posture of the government of Liberia (GOL) has placed the government in the hats-in-hand category, appealing for foreign financial assistance, like the USD106 million given recently by the World Bank to the GOL. In the midst of no systemic path to corruption alleviation, this World Bank funding for development financing, means, in reality, underdevelopment financing.

The facts on the ground show that although most people in Liberia do know book and are prevented from participating in decisions that affect them, they know how to solve societal problems. Imagine that people who are overlooked by the powers that be have the solution to Liberia’s burning problem. Were these overlooked people to be looked at, imagine how much better Liberia would look and be. Therefore, people who love Liberia must work together to use the knowledge of people like Lepers to move Liberia from the prevailing poverty generation to the enduring poverty alleviation. Gratitude to Liberia not Ingratitude to Liberia is the Way Forward for the Better.