Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Check is in the Mail

O.K., today was one of those days that does not happen all that often here at Rafiki Liberia. Well actually, about once a month. It is payday...the first of July.
A lot of preparation has gone into making this day go very easy for me by Charmaine, our accountant. This morning all I had to was go around to our 25 employees and give them their pay slip plus $600 Liberian ($10 U.S.). They then left at around noon to make the trek into Monroiva to the bank to get the rest of their pay.
It is very common to pay employees in cash here in Liberia, and Rafiki used to do that as well. The $100 bill is the most common Liberian denomination. Now that is worth about $1.66 U.S. We have seen nothing larger here. When you are paying someone for a month's work in $50 and $100 Liberian bills (60 to 1 ratio to the U.S dollar), there is a lot of money laying around; tables of it!
People come up with all kinds of unique ways to transport a suitcase full of money from the bank to the work place. The problem is that everyone knows its payday. On the way back from the bank, with a suitcase full of money in the backseat, one's thought process tends to proceed along these lines: "With unemployment at around 80%, there are a fair amount of individuals with little more to do than to think of how they could utilize these funds once in their possession."
Even when you have to slow down for the 73 year old mother of 12, grandmother of 37, crossing the street, you start imagining her pulling out her AK 47 and having her way with the company's money.
To get around all those ill thoughts that the depraved mind can come up with when under stress, Rafiki has gone through the efforts of getting employment numbers for all the employees and setting them up with their own savings account at a local bank. There was fear and trepidation as to how this process of getting paid would be accepted, as some of the employees had never been in a bank before. I understand completely. A bank is not where I go to relax either.
To every one's glee, this has been most acceptable to everyone receiving a paycheck. The $600 Liberian ($10 U.S.) they do get is to insure that they all have Taxi money to get to the bank.
So, today July 1, everybody liked me. And that doesn't happen very often. Just once a month now.