From a child in the slums to a professional in finances
FCA’s Finance Officer in the Liberia Country Office paid for his education by selling water and eggs to motorists at the roadside.
Text: Minna Elo
Photo: Ville Palonen
Ever since 35-year-old Claudius Blamoh began working as Finance Officer in Finn Church Aid’s (FCA) Liberian country office, partners of the country office have learned that not a single slapdash report is to be submitted.
“I check partner reports and accounts and make sure everything is done according to the proper procedures”, Blamoh explains. He is also in charge of the office’s cash reserves.
Blamoh becoming an accountant and a finance officer was anything but self-evident. He was born into a very poor family in the slums and got caught up in some very bad company. Drugs and crime were part of his life.
“Some things happened that are not acceptable.”
“But I had courage”, says the determined Blamoh.
“I looked at my friends and I thought: ‘they are just sitting around doing nothing. Why shouldn’t I go to school and learn. I choose the life I lead.’”
Rocky path through school
Since the age of 13, Blamoh has taken care of his own livelihood, while at the same time going to school. He started by selling water, and then eggs, to motorists by the roadside. At high school, Blamoh’s earnings improved as he trained as a barber and learned to fix locks.
“When I graduated from high school, I sold gasoline on the street and used that to finance my postgraduate studies. I’ve never been ashamed of working on the streets. I’m proud of myself”, he says.
A positive and enterprising outlook on life has helped him forward.
“If something bad happens today, it can become better tomorrow.”
In 2008, Blamoh’s second son, Courage, was born. When the baby was only three days old, he was taken back to the hospital. He was given auxiliary oxygen for eleven days. The doctor didn’t believe the child would make it.
“I told God if He gave me my child back, I would work for Him.” A few days later, the boy was released from hospital.
“I gave a promise to never again use alcohol.”
Around the same time, something else happened that Blamoh can never forget. He was forced to move out of his apartment, and decided to go back home to his parents. But he was not welcome.
“I lived out of Liberia for many years and every time I asked of you, you were out on the street”, his father said. “You are not welcome here.”
Nowadays, Blamoh visits his parents, but never stays the night. He regularly goes to his old neighbourhood in the slums and tries to encourage his friends to change their lives. He also financially supports children in the slums.
“My salary is barely enough. I also work for those who do nothing.”
Blamoh is separated from his first wife who lives with their two sons. Blamoh regularly sees the boys and supports them. Two-year-old daughter Claudia lives with her father. Her mother died of Ebola a year ago.
“I’m not yet where I’d like to be, but I thank God for no longer being where I used to be.”