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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Painter

by Alhassan Lamin
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I am a 33-year-old building painter. Since I graduated with a certificate from the Institute of Advanced Management and Technology (IAMTECH) in 2012, life hasn’t been easy. I am only surviving from the skills that I learned personally. Before the COVID-19, pandemic work as a painter was on an average level. By then, I would have more than five construction sites where I work in a month. Some days, my workmates will link me up with their clients to work together and take care of my family from the profits that I make—most of the new sites where I did some work have shut down. Now I am only getting calls from past customers who are retouching areas in their home or office.

If you are not a salaried worker in my line of work, you don’t earn much. My clients pay me a minimal amount, and sometimes, when I have an assistant, however little I have to share what we make. Thankfully, with most of my workmates, I coordinate with them, so they often understand if I can’t share as much.

So far, this pandemic has some negative impacts on my life, and the stories are not suitable for one to want to share. Right now, my wife and two children are at home. We are only surviving from the money that I make. Feeding has been one of our most significant challenges, from cooking different sauces every day, now we only eat when I have. On the other days, we go to bed on an empty stomach. The other thing that is very disturbing for me during this period is house rent, every year, I pay SLL 1,500,000, and my landlord has started asking already.

Credit: OSIWA/Essential Stories

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