There are no jobs in Charlotte village. The little agriculture that can be done on this mountainous village is made impossible by the rains. The only other means of livelihood is coal burning which earns them just enough to eat. For most others they wake up early in the morning and trek the six miles journey to regent village where they pick up a vehicle and head for Freetown proper to find their living.
It is therefore not surprising that the community is run down with mostly old people, a few young couples and children found around during the day.
Of the 22 houses which now make up the entire Charlotte village close to 80% are in a bad shape with arguably some 50 to 60% in a really bad shape. The weather is not too kind to the community. It has taken its toll on the houses especially. The house ‘pictured’ unbelievably provides shelter for six people. At least this is what the villagers told us, and all six of these people go to Freetown every day.
Old Pa Olorunfeh Hughes waved to us as we passed by. He said “sorry I have finished all the water I have, I could have offered you some” before asking us very politely in perfect Queens English for alms. As he waved to us from his window in a house that does not have any (or did I say need any …) doors we could see that Pa Olor had on only what was visible through the window. A worn out polo shirt to cover his upper and for the rest, he was in his birthday suit (naked). I could not help imagining how this old man sleeps during the heavy rains that have been falling of late. What about thieves? I asked. The villagers accompanying us laughed. “What is there to steal when the man is not even wearing trousers?”
For those who believe they know what poverty is they have seen nothing yet.
But all is not lost. There are other houses which are very well kept and beautifully decorated. The roads leading to these houses are clean and well kept. This is typical of village life as opposed to the city where trash is thrown everywhere.
The depth of poverty however did not affect the spirit of the people. There was hope in their eyes. Village head Modu Conteh says ‘if government can only concentrate a little bit here, things will be okay and people will not have to live in “Pan Body” (tin shacks) on the side of the streets where City Council is spilling their belongings on the streets.