Abraham Mulbah, [email protected]

Massaquoi Konneh, 43, married, a father of five children is a well-known carpenter residing in the Swankamore community SKD Boulevard. Although he originally hailed from Liberia but sought refuge in Guinea due to the civil crises.

In Liberia, a person with a disability does not tend to get involved in carpentry or trade because they are left abandoned, the cultural attitude towards disability in Liberia is largely negative.

According to the population census performed in Liberia in 2008, people with disabilities represent 14% of the country’s total population.

They are often marginalized and discriminated against, making it hard to access the education system, the job market, and health services.

Carpenter shops in Liberia are predominantly owned by males who have little or no formal education.

But Konneh brings in a new dynamism to the trade, despite his disability he has successfully managed his mini carpenter shop with little or no education which has been the source of income for the family.

But what led him to become a carpenter, The Stage Media asked?

“This identical job here, I was forced to learn it because the struggle we {went through during the war} pass inside in this country during the war, when we left from here (Liberia) we went to Guinea because of the war.

“While living in Guinea, in the refugee camp, I never think {thought about attending school} about going to school again because my family and everybody was depending on me.”

“And that was the way I decided to enter into the carpenter shop because it was the only job that was there.”

While in Guinea, Konneh said it was a way to groom himself upon his return to Liberia because of Liberia’s job scarcity.

“I took the tutorial seriously because I know I was coming back home, so I had to be very careful and serious about what I was doing because there are always people standing by to the job.

He said he learned the job quickly because many others wanted to learn similar trade.

Madam Mayamu Konneh is the wife of Konneh she hopes there was is a better job for her husband, but the country leaves him defenseless and he has no choice but to be a carpenter.

“I am not happy that my husband is a carpenter but the scarcity of jobs in the country leaves him with no choice but to live with it,” she said.

Madam Konneh said she supports and respects him despite his disability, “Frankly, from the start, it was rough because accepting him was difficult, but things have gradually improved since we moved to Liberia from Guinea.

She boasted that she assists him in the shop, and many have admired them living happily together.

Joseph Kollie and Jerry Flomo are customers of the Konneh’s carpenter shop.

Both of them said Konneh is a very reasonable person, always focused on his work.

They said there are lots of carpenter shops around but choosing Konneh’s shop is due to the different styles of putting his woods together.

“I used to see him fixing tables, benches and chairs you know, he is very gifted; he is one who has always fixed my chairs and my bed,” said Kollie.

He furthered called on the national government to help empower carpenters like Konneh.

“The government needs to help all the carpenters in Liberia, let them even put them at least on payroll and give them a small thing to help themselves and families.”

For Flomo, he trusted Konneh from the beautiful doors he unveiled at his shop.

“While driving home, I saw a beautiful door that was well designed, so I decided to stop and see who did it, and from there on, I started to trust him to fix my chairs and some dining room tables.”

Flomo and Kollie are happy to work with Konneh, a man breaking barrier who is well known for diligently exhibiting his skill in carpentry, construction of benches, stools, tables, chairs and despite his disability.

Meanwhile, Mr. Konneh said he is so proud of his job as a carpenter and appreciates the fact that he is being able to sustain his family through carpentry.

He is happy of making his own money through trade despite being a handicap, “Through my carpenter work I can get my own money I am not waiting for the government to take payment before I take pay”.

Konneh urged his peers to wake up and do something particularly involving in trade which he said will hugely sustain them and their families. “To all my friends who are not doing something that will give them money especially trade work which is very important.”



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