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“You Can Use What’s In Your Hands To Succeed” A Local Food Seller In Kolahum Reveals

“My wife and I used to sell coal in small plastic bags before we eat. We will stay hungry the whole day, in the evening before we get small food to eat. Things got too hard, I left the family in Kolahum, and moved to Voinjama to sell for people, I had to do so to take care of my wife and kids”.
. Henry Jallah, CKA, Gbandi Boy-1

By: Clara Kujuh Mallah ‘’a Truth-Life Story of a Man in Lofa County Liberia West Africa’’

Kolahum, Lofa County Liberia: – Minutes after crossing the main gate in Kolahum District is Looking Town Community, On top of the hill, holds a famous cook shop named: Lofa and Nimba Rice, and GB Business Center. Henry Jallah, CKA, Gbandi Boy is the owner of the Local Food Center. Gbandi Boy wakes up as early as 4AM to start preparing the food, and by 6AM, the food is ready for public consumption.  He shared, “I have to wake up early because some of my customers are motorcyclists, business owners, students, etc. Daily, they come to eat before beginning their day. I can’t be late with the food because they’re depending on me”.

Born in 1978, in Voinjama, Lofa County, Gbandi Boy didn’t go to school because his parents couldn’t afford his school fees. During the war, he took refuge in Maimu II Refugee Camp, Totota, Bong County. In 2005, he moved to Nimba County and met his wife, Irene Jallah, and they are blessed with two children.  Looking for an opportunity, he moved to Nzérékoré, Guinea where he met an Indian, who hired him to produce locally made alcohol (gin) for commercial purposes. After a few years of working under tension, and wasn’t being paid well, he returned to Monrovia and worked for the local made-alcohol company, RITCO, in Clara Town.

By 2014, during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, things got bad for business owners, and Gbandi Boy was no exception. He lost his job and then moved back to Lofa County along with his wife and kids. With no hope and no job, the difficulties started.  He records,

“My wife and I used to sell coal in small plastic bags before we eat. We will stay hungry the whole day, in the evening before we get small food to eat. Things got too hard, I left the family in Kolahum, and moved to Voinjama to sell for people, I had to do so to take care of my wife and kids”.

One day while selling for random people in Voinjama, he called his wife and informed her that since he cooks well, it was appropriate to start a small food business.

“Instead of selling for people, and getting nothing in return, I told my wife, I am coming back to Kolahum, so we can start a cook shop business (Food Center). We didn’t have much money, but with the small money we had, we started the food business”.

Gbandi Boy at work

The hard-working local businessman added that things are gradually picking up, but it is still not easy because he needs more assistance to expand his business. He is, therefore, pleading with philanthropists, humanitarians, and good citizens, home and abroad to kindly assist him with whatever they can to enable him to improve his business. He named a freezer, tv, plastic chairs, tiles for the floor, a generator, and dry goods for the expansion of his business.

The determined father believes parents should allow their kids to grow, and do things based on their respective ages. He doesn’t put most of the work at home on his kids…he said,

 “I have two daughters, age 13 in the 8th grade, and age 5 in K-1. They are my hope, I am working hard so they can get educated, I have suffered so much, and I can’t bear to see my children as adults and start facing difficulties like what I have faced. So, in the morning, I don’t let them work, they take bath, eat, dress up in their uniforms, and go to school. When they return, eat, and rest a bit, then my nephew starts the study class. I don’t know book, but I know book is the way forward, so I am trying so my children can learn well”.

Gbandi Boy’s passion for making food grew stronger while in neighboring Guinea. He added that he took cooking seriously because he felt this was the only option in providing for his family.

 “I never had the chance to go to school, so when the Indian people were training me to cook, I took it very seriously. I knew this was the way to help my family, I worked without complaints, and even though, I am still working harder, and hoping others will help me to improve my business, at least, on regular days, I can make LRD$5,000.00 or USD$33.33. Every Monday, it is Kolahum Market Day, I make up to LD$10,000.00 or USD$66.66 from the rice and GB because the marketers stop by to eat. This is better than sitting and doing nothing. I am not ashamed of what I am doing, I am honestly working, and looking for my living to take care of my family, and I take pride in it”.

In Gbandi Boy’s message to young people across Liberia, especially those on drugs, stealing, and prostituting, Gbandi Boy wants them to listen to his story, and take life seriously.

“God gave us two hands, two legs, he also blessed everyone with something he or she can use to grow. There is no easy way to survive, but you can use your time wisely to benefit. When people sit for too long, they will only wake up hungry!  Next thing, they start to lie and steal…people in Kolahum can see me washing dishes, carrying water, cassava, and pepper bags on my head, I don’t complain, once I am doing it in good fate, for the growth of my family, I have to keep moving on”.

Youconjay N. Barchue & Gbandi Boy

If you want to assist Gbandi Boy, please contact him at the following numbers: (+231) 0555604202/(+231) 0770254848. Or kindly inbox Clara Kujuh Mallah on Messenger for more details

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