Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Liberian wife: Widowed by a workplace Fatality.

Habib Sheriff, 2016 UK
Perch on the nominal edges of life’s charming branches, she is scold by a world which overburdens then neglects her, preying her to violations and the absurdities from a white hand which for years has suppressed its melanin by sitting in the shades of a black hand.  She lurks in a tapestry which wasn’t a choice she had to make but a fate she had to meet, accept or reject, she must live with it; a momentous failure of the capitalist which will keep her on the fringes of civility for eternity. Although this will be refuted by many who reaps the yolk of such hegemony, it remains that the nation and maybe many nations will for years feel the ripples of a man’s greed to amass wealth at the detriment of the people. She is a mother, she is a sister, she is a child, she is an aunt yet she has failed to see the pride in the great titles which should embodied and symbolized her, the natural place which holds her peers yet she sees a taboo. For years, she stood beside him, keeping afloat her hopes for a brighter day as they struggled, traversing groveling paths to survive with a family in a nation which commentators called wealthy yet a vicious filed of torment for the many who hardly afford a decent bed. Every night she wished for a better life, a day when she will wear a necklace and for once own a bed.On that mournful day, wearing a big smile, her husband will wave goodbye to his 3 years old daughter who is now his pet and he, her guardian angel; his two boys ages 10 and 15, all of whom has neither tasted chocolate, drank milk, seen a movie nor worn a perfectly fitting shirt, as he charged forward with joy obviously expressed and hugged his wife. She feels the warmth against her chest and her cheeks lights up, feeling innermost satisfaction that for once her dreams were coming through.  Her man has seen an opportunity as a casual laborer on a construction project and has placed his fate in the hands of his employer.Hopeful and courageous, he is determined to stay on the big project and sees his first day as an audition to secure a place on future projects, alluding to the rumors that millions of dollars have been awarded in grant projects, he must impress his boss. Without site safety induction and little technical knowledge, he will take the mortar weighting 25Kgs up the haphazardly- concocted and uncertified scaffold up to a total of 10meters without any harness nor a guardrail. He has no prior training, he has no supervision, he has only one thing for sure, the quest to change his people’s life- to give her (his wife) what he has promised, a better life. He is determined, so without a safe work system or work procedure, he has put himself at the foot mercy of his employers. Briskly he walked to a forming window to pass the mortar when suddenly a metal bar tumbles, in his earnest to impress someone, he attempted to catch a bar half his weight and falling at least four feet away from him, he must reach away from the platform to get the bar. Several meters in mid-air, this father, uncle, brother and son descended with a scream and quickly formed a lump encircled by a pool of his own blood. He is gasping for breath as blood ooze from his mouth nose and ears, tears filled his eyes as he whispers faintly “my wife oh… my children oh…” seconds later, his colleagues will watch the dreadful hands of death take him away. No attempt was made to rescue him, no one has planned for this despite several of these on the projects.
Liberian Widowed, today
She sits home as the day went bye, wishing to count the day’s earning as they have planned, to save out and purchase a plot of land, then built a house and annexed a shop to start a small business, educate their kids and grow out of poverty. The waiting gets longer and her anxiety grows, as the day darkens, she is emotional, she can’t wait to hear the great stories of how the day went, how his workmates are and what are his changes for the future. Finally, a man walked in and asked his pet-daughter, “can I see Mama?”, the little kid not seeing him clearly in the dark has called him daddy, accusing him of leaving her for the entire day. Her mom will come out quickly and say to her “go to the shower, daddy will be home soon” while the stranger gazing at his feet will quickly take rest upon a bench and keep quiet for a while. Then he asked her, “are you Ma. Lucy (Name changed for confidentiality)?”, his voice trembling, she is now panicking and can’t wait to get the rest of his words out. As he raised his head, tears roll down his check, he met her husband just once, he met the family just once but the memories will have fill his world forever. As the lady screams, the community sharing the solidarity of poverty quickly rally to her cry, echoing the wails across the distance waste land. She laments the future suffering of her children, she is now a widow, left in a world to fend for kids and herself without formal education or technical skills. Agony unleashed on a family and destroyed the hopes of children for a simple reason, the lack of Health and Safety Best Practices in the workplace. The story is not isolated, it is not far fetch in most societies where occupation injuries are credited to providence and fate but, mulling the abandonment of the rules of decent work to maximize profits or for unexplained reasons, it is evident that they have planned for these occupational incidents. The practice of OSH must be an integral part of businesses, if not for any reason but “MORALS”. Financial and Legal reasons will follow once those in charge have moral instincts for the subjects, as good OSH practice will unequivocally attract increase profits and reduce fines and penalties. Families are hurt by failures to conduct workplace risk assessment or invest in training for staff.  Therefore, businesses must invest in enforcing workplace OSH practices such as Workplace Risk Assessment and must also ensure staff have the knowledge skills and ability and additionally proper supervision before carrying on a task. It is such a pride if each worker can return home safely after each workday.
Everyone have a role to play in making this a reality, by reporting bad work practices, we can ensure that a father returns home each day and put a smile on the faces of his kids, a dream come through for his mother.

Habib Sheriff

No comments:

Post a Comment