Single mum in Liberia
Posted by African Press International on December 11, 2012
Location: Harper, Maryland County, Liberia
Does your spouse/partner live with you? No
What is your primary job? Market-seller
What is your monthly salary? US$200
What is your household’s total income – including your partner’s salary, and any additional sources? $200
How many people living in your household – what is their relationship to you? Five – three children and my brother.
How many are dependent on you/partners income – what is their relationship to you? The whole household relies on my income.
What is your staple? How much do you spend each month on food? $110
What is your staple food – how much does it cost? Rice. I spend $60 on a bag of rice each month but it usually doesn’t last the month.
How much do you spend on rent? $40 on a two-bedroom house.
How much on transport? $20 though sometimes we walk to the market – it takes two hours.
How much do you spend on educating your children each month? [A] $60 – two of my children attend community school.
After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? $20, sometimes nothing.
Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? We have to skip meals many days to keep up the family.
Have you been forced to borrow money, or food, in the last three months to cover basic household needs? I try not to borrow money. But the cost of living is hard and so this has sometimes forced me to borrow extra cash to take care of other business in the home.
“I live in a community where there are a lot of single mothers struggling to support their families. My spouse died during the Liberian civil war. He was a soldier with the national army and when the rebels attacked our community they started looking for government soldiers to kill – he was one of the victims.
“I sell vegetables, dried meat, and household basics such as slippers at Red Light market [in Red Light a Monrovia suburb] to survive and look after my sons [Tom, Jerry and Tomah, aged 24, 18 and 15]. My brother also lives with us and he helps out in the market.
“I’ve been selling at this market since the civil war ended. I make about US$200 a month. I just about manage to cover my bills with this. As a single parent I have to work very hard; there is no one to help me. I do it alone.
“But I am left with only $20 extra each month – that feels shameful. And that’s how it’s always been. Sometimes I’m left with nothing.”
“My children go to a good community school, which is cheap. At least they’re getting a good education. I hope they can learn and help me in the future.
“Life in Liberia gets harder by the day. Sometimes I wonder where we are heading. The living conditions in the country are ridiculous. We don’t live like normal human beings – things are tough and there are no signs that it will improve.
“I am thinking of doing something else next year. I want to get into something much bigger that will benefit my family. Recently I heard that Liberian women will be given small loans by the banks. If this happens, it will strengthen us and make us more productive. If I get a loan from the bank I will strategize how to get into a bigger venture, and that will make me better off.”