Liberia is home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world. As a result, many young people hang around on the streets—making money selling clothes and food, or getting involved in petty crime. With even university graduates unable to find employment, young people without education can find it near impossible to secure work. In this film from Ed Fenwick, we follow a week in the life of a twenty one year old named Cally John in Paynesville, Libera, who the London-based documentary director met while filming for a local charity called Youth Crime Watch Liberia.
“Due to this lack of opportunity many opt in to a sort of cultural internship with older members of the community in return for food, drink and a place to live,” explains Fenwick. “It is an unpaid arrangement. These young ’interns’ are referred to as Pekin—Liberian slang meaning little brother. Strictly speaking anyone younger than you is your Pekin.
“Cally lives with Zuo, who I was staying with. After staying with them for a few days I noticed this cultural phenomenon and just started filming the domestic situation in front of me. I wanted to make something that didn’t focus on the tragic recent history of Liberia (The Civil War, Ebola, and extreme poverty), and instead try and film the non-sensational aspects of everyday life, giving a little insight into this important building block of Liberian society. I also wanted to get across the pace of life in a country where progress is slow and there’s often not a huge amount to do.”