Lepers Abandoned

By Melissa Chea-Annan

Over 5,000 lepers residing in the hinterland of Bong County have complained of being abandoned by the Liberian Government.

As a means of expressing their grievances, some representatives of the lepers, led by their spokesperson, Stephen Kennedy, lined up in front of the entrance of the Cuttington University to await President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who was expected to dedicate the Chief Suacoco Center in that County.

The lepers’ spokesperson lamented that for several years they have struggled endlessly to fetch food and safe drinking water but all to no avail as their situation worsens.

According to Mr. Kennedy, they lepers lack good housing facilities, food, water and medication. He lamented that six persons died last month while two others are on critical list.

He also explained that they have one deplorable building that is being used for school from grade zero to sixth. “But whenever it rains, we can’t have classes because the place leaks,” he added.

The spokesperson also recounted how during the political season they were taken in vehicles by their lawmakers to the Sgt. Kollie Town Polling Center to cast their ballots in favor of those lawmakers, with empty promises that they would be taken care of and given a decent living, but unfortunately after the elections, nothing has been said or done for them.

Shortly before the arrival of President Sirleaf, Mr. Kennedy also expressed disappointment in the lawmakers, stating that they don’t have Representatives or Senators to seek their interest; instead they have neglected them.

Kennedy explained further that they had sent out many communications to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare with no redress to their plight.

President Sirleaf who later visited the Leprosy Center shortly after the dedicatory ceremony pleaded with them to be patient because they were not included in the budget. She said as of now, they will take into consideration their plight and have them included in the next budget.

Earlier, the spokesperson praised the President for being the first Liberian President to visit their center in Gbarnga, Bong County.  He said they will relax their decision to go on a hunger strike after being assured by the President that their situation would be taken into consideration.

It was also observed that the road leading to the Leprosy Center is in a deplorable condition, something that also suggests that they have indeed been forgotten.