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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Grocer

by Alhassan Lamin Kargbo

The market is empty. If you look around it’s empty. It has been empty since this morning. I come here because I have children at home. I have grandchildren, my husband doesn’t work. This business is how we survive. I can’t tell you how much profit I make doing this because everything I sell whatever is there is for the children. It is for fees; it is for food. My profit goes into my children. If I sell we eat. ⁠

I sell all kinds of vegetables. I get my produce from Dove Cot Market. Before Coronavirus, I went to Dove Cot as often as five times a week. Now I go once or twice a week if we have sales, but it’s more like once a week. I sell perishables so if I don’t have sales, I have to throw the things away when they spoil. I’ve been selling fresh produce here for 25 years. My mother used to trade here and I worked with her till she passed on. We were originally from Kamabai in Bombali District.

I walk for two hours from Leicester to Kroo Town Road every morning and another two hours to get home. I sell groceries here at Kroo Town Road Market but now there are no sales. If I paid for transportation to go and come, I wouldn’t have any money. So I walk to save. People don’t want to come to the market anymore, they are afraid of Corona. Our customers don’t come anymore. Some days, they send their nannies. I have children to take care of and I also have grandchildren, so I can’t stay at home. There are seven of us at home, including my husband, but he retired a while back. Also, he isn’t doing too well. ⁠ ⁠

Credit: Essential Stories/OSIWA

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