Martin K.N. Kollie writes:
Dear Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva alias Jeety,
We often watch you going LIVE on Facebook and taking photos while distributing hot meal to needy people in Liberia. Do we appreciate your gesture to feed “The Hungry”. Of course, we do and we would appreciate anyone for carrying out similar gesture.
We are not against your initiative but we are completely against you taking photos and videos when such initiative is being rolled out in public spaces.
STOP taking photos and videos. It is really degrading and dehumanizing. What you cannot do in India must not be done in Liberia. One could go to jail for taking photos and videos while sharing hot meal with needy people in India. And you are quite aware of this edict. So, why do it in Liberia?
In India, it is a violation of Section 188 of the Penal Law for anyone or any so-called philanthropist to share hot meat with needy people and take photos/videos. Click this link and read: https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/no-photos-selfies-to-be-taken-while-distributing-food-ration-to-needy-persons-in-ajmer/576187.
We do not know your motive for doing this and we do not intend to judge your motive either. But lining up needy Liberians in long queues to simply share hot meal with them sends a number of undesirable messages which are very demeaning to our social, economic, and political fabrics:
1) It is dehumanizing. Regardless of their condition, it takes away their dignity and self-pride.
2) It is traumatizing. Seeing such photos or videos often make Liberians to reflect on Liberia’s tragic civil war when people stood in long queues for food or rations. This is having psychological impact on our population.
3) It takes away our sovereignty as a country. Those photos and videos do not only suggest that Liberians are mere beggars and parasites but they also suggest that we are unable to feed ourselves and almost everyone is hungry in Liberia.
In India, 189.2 million people are hungry according to FAO but no one takes their photos or videos when sharing hot meal with them. You, Jeety, cannot do this India. You could be arrested for doing this in India. So, why do it in Liberia? Is Liberia a “Guinea Pig”? It has never been and it isn’t. So, STOP taking photos and videos whenever you are sharing hot meal.
Jeety, lest we forget that what you are doing (sharing hot meal) is just 1% of what you’ve benefitted from Liberia. You came to Liberia not even as a thousandaire but Liberia has made you a multimillion. India has never made any Liberian even a thousandaire before.
We cannot point to a single Liberian-owned business in India. Liberia has done far more for you than you’ve done for Liberia. While Liberian-owned businesses are struggling and striving to even wake up, your profit margin or net profit per annum has been and remains so phenomenal.
Imagine for a moment, you came to Liberia with rarely anything. Today, Jeety Trading Corporation has 8 branches across Liberia (http://www.jeetytrading.net/branches.html). After profiteering from Liberia for decades, you later extended to Sierra Leone. You also have 4 branches in Sierra Leone. Liberia has not even done this for any Liberian-owned business yet.
These are hard facts. But I do not blame you for this. I blame those in power who are calling themselves “leaders”. They often connive with you and other foreign investors/businesses to exploit Liberia and Liberians. Hence, this pandemic remains entrenched after 174 years.
Once again, sharing hot meal is good but taking photos/videos and sharing them raises a number of questions about such initiative. It raises a legit concern which borders on “sincerity and motive”. Until we have a serious and nationalistic government that puts Liberia and Liberians first, a man like Jetty will always position himself as a “Philanthropist”.
We blame ourselves for this national disgrace. And history won’t even forgive us (Liberians) for not reclaiming our economy from foreigners.
Thank you Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva.
Signed: Martin K. N. Kollie
Voices from Exile (VEx)