The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Poor Hawkers In Thinker Village Risk Lives For Survival

By Bill W. Cooper

Liberia, a country still grappling with the aftermath of civil war and economic downturn, is witnessing a heart-wrenching phenomenon, as destitute parents and their children risk their lives to sell bread through moving vehicles just to make ends meet.

This dire situation in the Thinker Village Belt further sheds light on the extreme measures families and self-contained children are forced to take in their struggle for survival.

For countless families, poverty has become a daily battle that leaves parents with limited options to provide for their children across Liberia.

With limited access to stable employment opportunities, many parents are left with no choice but to resort to hazardous methods of crediting and selling their goods.

One such method involves selling bread through moving vehicles opposite the Town Bakery, where parents and children dart through busy streets, risking their lives to earn a meager income.

The risk associated with selling bread between moving vehicles is a glaring reflection of the desperate circumstances faced by these families.

As vehicles navigate congested traffic, parents and children weave through the chaos, often precariously balancing stacks of bread on their heads or arms.

The dangers are compounded by poor road conditions, reckless driving, and little to no respect for traffic rules, making the task even more perilous.

Additionally, children as young as five years old can be seen actively participating in this dangerous trade. They maneuver through traffic, offering bread to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, amidst the constant threat from surrounding vehicles.

These children face numerous risks, including accidents, physical injuries, exploitation, and exposure to criminal activities.

In a conversation with one of the parents, a lady popularly known as Ma-Mary, she said the motivation behind their decision mainly revolves around earning enough to secure daily sustenance and access basic amenities like shelter, food, and healthcare.

Further explaining her and her colleagues’ ordeal, Ma-Mary told our reporter that most of them often credit L$1, 000 bread from the town bakery daily for L$200 profit.

She said they risk their lives by crossing the road and running behind cars, where they are sometimes insulted by others, including passengers and drivers, lamenting, “But again, we can’t do anything because it is the money business we went in the street and want.”

Furthermore, some of the kids often seen on the street are students in grade school, high school graduates, non-educated, mothers, house wives, ranging between the ages of 12 to 40, or older.

Madam Mary is calling on the national government, philanthropists, and other well-meaning Liberians to see the need to aid them financially, help so as to enable them purchase their own bread, instead of crediting daily for L$200 profit.

Meanwhile, the plight faced by these families underscores the need for urgent support and intervention from the government, non-profit organizations, and concerned citizens alike.

Addressing this multifaceted issue requires a holistic approach, encompassing government initiatives to stimulate the economy, improve access to education, and strengthen social welfare programs.

To mitigate the immediate risks faced by destitute families, it is crucial to establish alternative, safer income-generating opportunities, as well as offering vocational training, microloans, and entrepreneurial guidance, which could ensure parents become empowered to explore other sustainable sources of income.

This approach would not only reduce the need for engaging in hazardous activities, but also foster long-term financial stability, and simultaneously, there is a pressing need to expand access to quality education for vulnerable children.

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