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Liberian students stranded in China

-Hit by fear, food crisis over Coronavirus

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Six Liberian students studying computer science on partial scholarship unrelated to governments’ arrangements in China have told a live interview with local broadcaster Prime FM their ordeal, saying they live in total fear and allegedly being denied access by Chinese dealers to the only supermarket available to buy food.

The students based in Wuhan, China, include Magretta Tarplah from Matadii; Sheikh from Parker Corner, Brewerville; Saah Hilton Johnson, Jr., from Kebbah, Barnerville; Ambrose John Gbormi, Jr., from Bunja Community in Thinkers’ Village, Paynesville; Decontee from New Kru Town; and another male student from Pipeline Road Community in Paynesville. “We are locked up in our dormitory and we [were] told by our school that we are not allowed to get out because of this virus,” Sheikh said on Wednesday morning, 29 January.

“And then, moreover, we are living in total fear because we don’t move freely, we don’t do anything freely. Like, last week, we went to buy food and the Chinese started to practice something like racism,” he explains on.

According to sheikh, since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, things have shut down, businesses are not running like before and transportation is shut down.

He says they had little cash with them before the outbreak of the virus which they are trying to manage.
Sheikh explains that they went on a partial scholarship gotten through the internet in which those benefiting from this program are responsible for 30 percent of the requirements, while the remaining 70 percent is undertaken by the scholarship provider.
Their program is not part of scholarship arrangements between the governments of Liberia and China, according to him.

In the wake of the outbreak, Sheikh says the Chinese have refused to sell food to him and his fellow Liberians and foreign students, accusing the supermarket operators of claiming there is no food even though food could be seen in the supermarket.

He laments that the sellers chose to only sell food to Chinese instead of foreign students.
He says they are responsible to feed themselves, but they are starving now because getting food is hard for them during the outbreak.

In the same school they are attending, he says there are other students from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Angola, Ivory Coast and Guinea, adding that their respective governments are sending in planes to evacuate them.
Due to the outbreak, Sheikh adds that their school has been shut down indefinitely, and students have been asked to keep in doors and avoid crowded places for their safety.

He says he has contacted his family back home concerning the outbreak, adding that he and his colleagues at the school have contacted the Liberian Embassy in China through social media app WeChat, but they were told that the Embassy would get back to them.

Unfortunately, he says since then they haven’t heard from the Embassy.
For her part, Magretta Tarplah explains that what they are experiencing in China is really worse than the Ebola Virus.

“This virus is really deadly. They should carry on awareness in Liberia because I am deeply worrying about Liberia. If this virus reaches Liberia it will be too bad because we are not even used to using mask in Liberia, so when it happens to go [to] Liberia it will be too bad, I’m telling you,” she says.
She further expresses fear that people are travelling and spreading the virus, and it doesn’t show any sign or symptom before being transmitted to other persons.

“If I have the virus in me, I can transmit the virus to another person before I get sick. So once I get sick and [you’re] focusing on me, you don’t even know how many persons I have transmitted this virus to,” Magretta explains.

Also speaking, student Decontee says even though the Liberian Government is not aware of their scholarship program to China, but they are calling on the government for its aid.
“We are on campus, our school [has] dormitory and we are within the dormitory,” she says, adding that students are responsible for their own feeding including electricity and Wi-Fi.

According to Decontee, they bought their own protective gears because no one has provided them such.
Before the outbreak, she says she bought food and a little amount of that food is left which she thinks may not be able to sustain her up to this weekend.

“And we have reached the matter to the school, but they are just telling us wait. Y’all be patient, we will come to your aid. Be patient. But they haven’t really answered to our call yet,” says Decontee.
Further, Ambrose John Gbormi, Jr., laments that foreign students are being denied of using the only supermarket available in the area and food is very limited there. He says the food they have may carry them for probably one or two weeks.

Saah Hilton Johnson, Jr., another Liberian student adds that they need Liberia’s recuse at this point, as there is no enough food in the supermarket and the Chinese in that city are many, buying almost all the food in the supermarket. He says they have been denied twice to enter the supermarket.By Winston W. Parley

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