Liberian teen hailed hero after finding, returning $50,000

International

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — A teenager in Liberia has become a national hero after finding $50,000 on the road and returning it to its rightful owner in the northeastern Nimba County.

Eighteen-year-old Emmanuel Tuloe told The Associated Press Thursday that he was driving his motorcycle taxi on a highway when he saw a bunch of money wrapped in a plastic bag that had dropped unnoticed.

When he saw the money on Tuesday, he said “I was afraid because it was plenty; and so I brought it home and gave it to my aunty to keep until the owner could ask for it.”

That day, Musu Yancy, the businesswoman who had lost the money, went on the radio “crying for her money and appealing to anyone finding it,” he said. So he took it to her.

Tuloe said that while many Liberians are praising his actions, others including some friends, are mocking him for doing what is unusual in the post-war country.

He had dropped out of school in the seventh grade to begin a taxi service with his motorcycle to make money, he said.

“Since my decision, when I have a breakdown on the highway and some of my rider friends see me, they don’t help; they say I acted stupid to find and return money. I should let the money help me,” he told the AP from his hometown of Gbolor Dialla on the border with Ivory Coast.

“They tell me I will never get rich in my lifetime; they say because I returned such an amount of money I will live and die poor.”

He said he’s also received threats for his actions.

“I need to protect myself,” he said.

But he stands firm in his honest actions, advising others to return money, cellphones or other items they may find.

“If the owner asks, they should return it because we don’t know the future,” he said.

Yancy rewarded the boy with cash and materials valuing about $1,500, he said.

We had a big celebration together, he added.

When the euphoria has gone away, he will share the reward with some of those who were traveling with him.

“But the mattress I got will be given to my grandma,” he said firmly.

The Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission says it is “deeply touched by the sincerity of the teenager.”

Liberia’s 14-year back-to-back civil wars started in this region in 1989.

Nimba County is the largest of Liberia’s 15 counties in terms of land area and the second most populated after the Monrovia area.

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