Chances are, you’re probably not very happy with the salary you earn. Maybe you think you get taxed too heavily; your salary doesn’t match your skills, talents, and abilities; or you just don’t make enough, period. It can be tough to earn a good living where all your worries are taken care, especially in light of the recent recession we’ve gone through. Jobs- never mind good ones- are scarce, promotions and bonuses occur less frequently, and raises aren’t in line with inflation rates. The dollar, pound, and euro just don’t go as far as they did. Money matters are tight for you and they show no sign of improving.
But to Liberians, we’re all living like kings and emperors. In 2011, the gross national income- a country’s average earned income before taxes- of Liberia was $370 USD, a figure that any of Canada’s 35 million citizens could earn in one week working full-time. Let’s just look at that again: if you took any Canadian, no matter how skilled or educated they were, and had them work at McDonald’s, they would still earn more in one week than the average Liberian would earn in an entire year. Even if you switched countries to the United States and went to Wyoming, the state with both the lowest minimum wage and fewest citizens, any person there would earn 56% of a Liberian’s income in one week working at minimum wage (data taken from World Bank [http://data.worldbank.org/country/liberia], Government of Canada [http://srv116.services.gc.ca/dimt-wid/sm-mw/rpt1.aspx?lang=eng], and the United States Department of Labor [http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm]).
Further, the average life expectancy in Liberia is 57 years, meaning that if a Liberian starts working from the age of 16 until they die, their total earned income- before taxes- will have been $15,170, a figure many Westerners make in one year. This is also a number that not only will presumably rise as a Westerner ages and gains experience, but will be multiplied many more times as their life expectancies are a good 20 years more.
Owing to factors like a dearth of hospitals, physicians, general health care services; lack of fresh water; decreased knowledge about practices like washing hands; not undergoing screening tests that catch diseases; ineffective garbage removal system; and poor public sanitation, Liberians live much shorter lives than us. Their lives also tend to be decreased in quality because they don’t have easy access to doctors, clean environments, and fresh waters- items we all have so readily at hand, we take them for granted. It’s an expectation of ours, not a wish, that we should wake up and have a full fridge, taps with running water, and a family doctor’s name in our phone books. If we get sick with a cold or the flu, it tends to mean a few days off spent watching soap opera reruns. For a Liberian, it can mean prolonged suffering or, even worse, death.
YESLiberia isn’t afraid to bridge this divide and sacrifice a little so Liberians can have a lot. What we think of as a small gesture or action is magnified in Liberia because of how drastically poor they are. While we complain if a bus is late or gas prices have gone up, remember that most Liberians don’t have public transportation or landline phones, and many don’t have streetlights outside their homes- amenities that make it incredibly hard to reach healthcare. Is it no surprise that the average Liberian never becomes a senior citizen? This is what happens when national politics ignore the issues.
YESLiberia knows that you have your own matters to look after, but we look at unconventional solutions that work in specific communities. So, please give just a small bit of yourself to YESLiberia; the effects are more far-reaching than you can imagine. Even a single day’s pay for you, something a little uncomfortable to sacrifice, translates to months of pay for a Liberian. Next time you go to a shop, remember something before you put your money on the counter: that fancy latte represents an entire week’s pay for a Liberian. To a Liberian, that $5 could literally mean the difference between recovering from an illness and dying from it. GIVE a little, SAVE a life.