A few days later, I understood a bit better. John-Mark came back from visiting their house and informed me that the entire family of eight was sleeping in one room, maybe 13X13. A husband, wife, 15 year old girl, 14 year old girl, 11 year old boy, 10 year old boy, 6 year old girl, and a 2
year old boy. (Three of these are foster children). The married couple share a double bed with the 2-year old while the rest sleep on the floor. The family is renting this room in a house and sharing one toilet with a couple other families.
When I was doing home health social work in rural South Carolina, there were so many of my patients that could have really benefited from hiring someone to help do laundry and clean the house. The going rate to hire from an agency was approximately $15/hour with a three-hour minimum. You could hire someone privately for $8-10/hour. I learned that in Voinjama, the going rate to have someone help wash from 8am-4pm is $150 Liberian Dollars. That is $2 for an entire day of hard work. Laundry, for instance, would probably require the woman to walk to a water source and carry buckets of water back to the house. Then, hand wash clothing, sheets, etc and hanging them on a line to try.
Some of you might be thinking, “Well, $2 can buy a lot more there so it evens out.” The truth is, $150 Liberian Dollars (LD) doesn’t stretch too far, especially if you’re trying to feed your family. A pineapple or a cup of rice, for example, costs 50LD. A piece of bread costs 20LD. A little bag of red palm cooking oil is 25LD and four onions cost $25LD. To finish the meal, one would still have to come up with maybe 100LD to buy a little fish and greens or vegetables. That doesn’t leave much left to pay rent, school fees, or to invest for the future.