Relief for Tweh Johnsonville Residents

Monday, 30th November -0001

Monrovia, Liberia - Residents of a relatively obscure but populated community in the Monrovia suburb of Sinkor, Old Road, known as Tweh Johnsonville, have a lot to smile and be thankful about. That’s because a modern, six-room toilet facility and a hand pump were on Wednesday, May 5, dedicated there, amid dancing and praises by area residents.

The project, a private initiative, is the brain child of Mrs. Jennie Bernard, elder sister of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

So disturbed was Mrs. Bernard about a recent scene she witnessed, where children used the ground as a toilet, that she contacted her nephew, Mr. Robert Sirleaf, to determine what could be done to assist the community. “It saddened me to see children squat to ease themselves,” she recalled, “and I believed it would not cost that much to find a solution.”

The response was swift, and the residents of Tweh Johnsonville got something they had wished for but never thought could be delivered in so short a time.

“But when the toilet was constructed, there was still another problem; there was no water in the area to help flush it, so we had to install a hand pump,” Mrs. Bernard, familiarly referred to as “Aunt Jennie,” explained.

“I hope you aren’t going to make any big news about this, because it’s no big deal,” the media-shy Aunt Jennie mildly cautioned.

But it’s undoubtedly a big deal for the residents of Tweh Johnsonville, who have had to dig holes to bury their waste matter or walk several blocks to use an aged government-provided toilet facility which has become inadequate for an over-populated community.

“God will bless her for helping us, we never expected this,” a community leader, Evelyn Toomey, admitted. She added that despite the presence of “well-off” personalities in the area, no one had been as generous as Mrs. Bernard towards them.

Edith Henries, another community leader, on whose property the facility is located, vowed to keep it clean. “Some of the people are complaining that they need a key for the toilet. But we can’t have everyone having a key; we will not be able to control it. We will have to work out something that we can control to keep the toilet clean at all times,” she insisted.

Now that Tweh Johnsonville has a modern toilet and a hand pump, another issue, which remains unresolved, is the effective disposal of garbage, observed community leader Henries. 

But that, too, is about to be solved. Mrs. Bernard has promised to take Monrovia’s Acting Mayor, Mary Broh, to visit the area to see what can be done to help the community work out ways of disposing of its garbage.

“We are willing to work along with the City Mayor to keep our area clean,” Madam Toomey assured Mrs. Bernard, as community leaders exchanged handshakes and hugs for an unexpected but welcome relief coming out of a genuine concern by a member of the First Family and one who believes that whatever little that can be done to impact another man’s life is well worth the effort.

The Tweh Johnsonville project is one of several being implemented and dedicated in and around Monrovia under private funding. The initiative, according to Mr.Robert Sirleaf, who spearheads the projects, is solely non-governmental. “It’s all part of building network and empowering communities and looking out to the down-trodden with the help of a network of friends of the Sirleaf administration,” he observed.