Life in Liberia: girls just want to have fun

Children in Liberia are no different from children anywhere else – they love to play. And Mary’s Meals gives them the energy to do just that!

Gerry Naughton
Gerry Naughton
Communications officer, Liberia

Back to all stories | Posted on 02 May 2017 in Life in Liberia

When I speak to children who receive Mary’s Meals, one of the things I ask is what games they like to play. Some of them clearly have no time; before school they sweep the house and tidy up; afterwards they haul water from the pump, wash clothes, and help to prepare food, if there is any.
Some also spend their time out of school working – selling items in the market or hawking bags of cold water or seasonal fruit around town. When they’ve done these chores, they have to find time for homework. As the sun sets around 7pm every day, there’s not much time left for anything else.
But a child’s right to play is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Mary’s Meals believes in helping children to ‘be children’ and to enjoy time with their friends. Once Mary’s Meals is served, you can see the immediate impact the food has on the students’ energy levels. 
While the boys are all out, playing football and chasing each other, the Liberian girls have their own games – kickball (like rounders), lapa (like dodgeball) and knock foot, shown in the below clip.

It can be harder for girls in Liberia to make the most of the daily meal they receive from Mary’s Meals at school.  Sometimes, they are expected to stay at home to help with the housework. If they live far from school, it might be thought unsafe for them to walk to school and back again in the dawn or dusk.
So, it is always great to see them in the schoolyard, having fun, with the energy Mary’s Meals gives them.

What is knock foot?

Knock foot is similar to ‘rock, paper, scissors’. It is played exclusively by girls. The participants (usually four or five) stand in a circle and clap in a certain rhythm. One girl is in the middle. At certain points in the rhythm, the girl in the middle kicks out with one foot or the other. This is known as ‘throwing’. The girl she is facing also ‘throws’ a leg at the same time.
The aim is for the person in the middle to throw a different leg (left or right) from the person she is facing. If she throws a different leg, she gets a point and moves on to the next girl in the circle. As long as she throws a different leg, she continues going round the circle gathering points.
But if the girl on the outside throws the same leg, the girl in the middle is out and the girl on the outside steps in and begins gathering points.