Barclayville, Grand Kru County — Two Children in Grand Kru County, in southeastern Liberia, are in a terrible physical condition.
The head of Na-Po-le-Tee (meaning “you are thinking about something” in the Kru dialect), born in 2016, one of the children, is abnormally swollen.
Her head looks like a large coconut and her tiny neck like a mortar pestle inserted into the coconut.
Her hands and feet, each tiny like her neck, were lifeless, and she could sit up only with the support of her aunt’s hands.
“Her condition started when she was three months old,” the child’s aunt, Mamie, told me in Picnic-Cess, a district in Grand Kru County, on April 12, 2017.
Little Na-Po-le-Tee’s biological mother, Juah Gbe Wlehgbe, who was unemployed at the time I met her, had abandoned her baby for fear of bullying from the community, Mamie told me.
“She’s over there,” she pointed to a group of community members listening to Naomi Harris, President of the National Union of Organizations for the Disabled (NUOD), on her advocacy sermon to the Town’s disabled persons.
Nyenplue had brought her physically deformed little niece (wrapped in lappa, but face exposed) for Naomi Harris to see her and give some financial help as she would soon do to the disabled persons she was speaking to.
Ms. Harris is educating the people of Picnic-Cess community, a predominantly fishing town, about the rights of persons with disabilities, and how the Constitution of Liberia has disregarded the rights of disabled people by not creating smooth pathway in government ministries and agencies for disabled persons on wheelchairs, among other rights violations.
“Na-Po-le-Tee’s pa na get job to take the child to hospital,” the child’s aunt said in Pidgin English.
The paralytic child’s father, identified as Bortu, is a fisherman and a footballer in Picnic-Cess.
“His football name is ‘lekpe-lekpe,” Rodney S. Gipply, the English-Kru translator of the Paramount Chief of Picnic-Cess Township, informed me.
Father Bortu was absent at the place when his sister (Mamie) taking chance to get financial help for his mentally and facially deformed daughter.
Na-Po-le-Tee’s parents can get any of the County’s officials to help in cash or to pay the money directly to a clinic for treatment, the aunt Mamie told me explained further.
The nearest medical center to Na-Po-le-Tee’s parents’ home is the Picnic-Cess Clinic, built by the Government of Liberia.
The County’s top officials’ constant absence in the County makes it impossible for poor parents, like Juan-gbe Wlegbe, to reach them for help. None the County’s officials were in the county when I was in Grand Kru County, between 7 and 8 of April, Kelvin K. Sieh, told me at NUOD program in Barclayville on April 12.
Each of the County’s spokesperson in the National Legislature was also outside.
“None of our legislators is in town at the time I’m speaking with you. And the County Superintendent, Elizabeth Dempster, is in Monrovia, where she stays most than being with us here,” Kelvin K. Sieh told me in Barclayville.
Kelvin’s assertion was authenticated by the representation of the County Superintendent, City Mayor, Development Superintendent at NUOD’s program in Barclayville.
A letter on the program had gone out to each person’s office a week earlier.
The second child, five-year-old Blessing Sekay, visually impaired, had been taken too NUOD President, Naomi Harris, to add his name to the list of Big Suehn’s disabled persons to receive their transportation reimbursement.
His both eyes were red like those of a person addicted to smoking marijuana.
His attention to me speaking with his grandmother, his eye lashes were batting continuously to see the stranger he couldn’t see.
“He can’t see you,” Blessing’s grandma told me, after I stared into the boy’s eyes to confirm what she had told the NUOD leader.
“He is blind. He was not born blind.” She, however, couldn’t remember the time the boy’s condition started.
When asked about the whereabouts of Blessing’s both parents, she said plaintively, “My son, his mother go she. I don’t know where his pa go to.”
Each of these Towns is in Barclayville, the County’s capital city, under electoral District #2, being represented by Hon. Numene Bartekwa in the House of Representatives.
The distance between Grand Kru County and Liberia’s capital, Monrovia makes supplies of drugs to the County extremely difficult—and impossible most of the time.
This causes delay in treatment of treatment of treatable disease—like the medical condition of little Na-Po-le-Tee and Blessing.
Added to this is the lack of adequate medical knowledge in majority of persons working as ‘doctors’ in the County.
Some of the people I spoke with in Barclayville quoted many government’s drugs suppliers to the Kru County that the long distance—coupled with deplorable roads—discourage them from travelling to the County.
Another impediment is the absence of motorable routes connecting several Towns.
The County had been described as a “Grand Walking County”, by the Liberia Institute of Geo-Information Studies (LIGIS), in its nationwide reports on road, alluding to people’s travels on legs in hours due to absence of roads
“We hardly see the government’s drugs people in our county, unlike the situation in other Counties in this southeastern part, like Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Rivercess, Rivergee and Sinoe,” a Town Chief in Grand Kru, who didn’t want his name revealed in a newspaper, complained to me.
What’s preventing each of these two kids from enjoying comfortable life—the qualification of medical doctors in Grand Kru County or the County’s deplorable roads?
Report by Samuel G. Dweh