This article was originally posted on www.sierraleonenow.com
By Jacob Sax Conteh
As many Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora, especially in the United States, return home to settle down, many are doing so at the expense of their children and spouses whom they have abandoned to start new lives in Sierra Leone. Many have gone to Sierra Leone, married new wives and start new lives without regard for their children who still live here in the states. This is not only immoral, but criminal and it needs to be addressed by both the government and private sector in Sierra Leone which hires Diaspora returnees.
Mention the word “children support” and a chill runs in the spines of many Sierra Leonean men who now reside in Sierra Leone. Some of these men are government officials who simply walked out of their families to start new lives in Sierra Leone, leaving their spouses and children to suffer. Some of the men owe thousands of dollars in back child support here in the United States which bans them from ever returning to this country without risking arrest. If such men hold high government offices, they cannot travel to the United States to attend any meetings. This can pose serious problems for the forward progress of the country.
Child support in America among Sierra Leoneans is a very thorny and raucous issue. Some women use child support, an order that forces a child’s father to pay a certain percentage of their income every month to support their children, to ostracize their ex-husbands and punish them for their failed marriages. Such women, who are few in number, often refuse to deal fairly with their ex-husbands and run to the court system which imposes the amount the spouse should pay every month. Some men get so overwhelmed with these orders that they simply pack their bags and leave the country. The reverse is also true. There are some men who are so bent on revenge for losing their spouses that they take that revenge on their children and refuse to pay. Both groups are wrong.
As Sierra Leone gets more acceptances in the international community, the problem of delinquent child support and other criminal acts have to be addressed. No matter how bitter a man may be, he does not have the right to abandon his children, living those children to suffer here in the United States as they deal with the emotions of losing their parent while that man lives in Freetown with a new spouse.
This article is not meant to pass judgment on all the men now living in Sierra Leone who have outstanding child support in the United States. It is a call to people in the Diaspora who have returned to Sierra Leone to never cut the links with their children, but to continue to support those children. These children might be the ones to recue us in the future when things go wrong in our lives.
While cautioning the men, one also has to address the women. For all the angry jealous women out there who threaten their husbands with child support if the men ever leave them, please realize that child support payment is not enough to raise a child. Children need more than money to survive this intricate society. Today, many Sierra Leonean teens languish in American jails and prisons because they never had a father figure to lead them to the right path. With their dads gone back to Sierra Leone without direct communication, these children are left behind with emotional problems that lead to multiple behavioral problems.
For all you men out there who loathe child support, the solution is simple: Either you never have kids, or take care of your kids before the matter ends in US courts. I know several decent men who have walked out of their marriage homes, but still fully provide for their kids. These are men of character, and they should be commended.
What baffles me is that if certain men cannot take financial responsibilities for their kids here in the United States whom they should love and cherish when they had the opportunity to do so, how can we trust them to run the affairs of our country in a transparent responsible way?
It is time for men in the Diaspora who are ready to pack up and return to Sierra Leone to take care of their children first. They should never just pack up and leave without making proper arrangements for their children.
From Sierra Leone Now Blog