Betty’s curse | Commentary | Jamaica Gleaner

“You can provide me one a dem farm work card fi my boyfriend? If I get it, I’ll neva come beg you once more …” Betty is round 25. Her lovely eyes pleaded just lately.

She had come to see me accompanied by her three youngest youngsters and, predictably, concluded by telling me that they “neva drink no tea” and needed a meals cash. One have a look at them confirmed the necessity.

This isn’t a sob story. It’s a narrative of the fact which the vast majority of Jamaicans face this week. Name it a ‘bleeding coronary heart’ story, if you want. Sure. Precisely. It might assist if extra of us had hearts of flesh slightly than hearts of stone on this time of nationwide and private disaster.

Telling of her life, on no account distinctive, is to humanise the stimulus efforts, the digitised purposes and to chronicle to whom and the way a lot of the cash voted will get to the actually needy.

Betty had come to my consideration most likely 12 years in the past on East Queen Road the place one of many southward lanes intersects. The strikingly handsome baby, simply turning into a girl, had come to her mom, a distraught, woebegone peddler of something – rizzla, weed and generally fry-egg sandwiches at night time – for some rest room paper to make use of the lavatory.

Once I occurred on the scene, the woman was getting a public, street-side, b-c cussing from her personal mom for having used up greater than the six squares of the tissue roll which was meant to final and share. No, that tracing can’t be repeated right here.

Turned out that it was the woman’s month-to-month time. Her humiliation was as acute as her mom’s anger was angrily self-descriptive and the nook youths’ wagging tongues, merciless.

One of many large ladies strolling with me took Betty apart, some sanitary provides supplied and a friendship developed. Not that it helped her a lot through the years.

The adverse social forces on the lane, the fitful attendance on the boring faculty and the never-had-before affirmation of menfolk, who stored telling her she appeared good and would generally purchase her a two-piece KFC combo, all conspired that earlier than lengthy the report got here: “Betty gone up”.

She has 5 youngsters now, her bodily look beneath stress of neglect and abuse; has by no means had a critical job and bounced from babyfather to boyfriend and again. Wherever she will be able to get assist.

The present gentleman has now despatched her to the politician to beg an opportunity to “journey”. “Him will quickly sen’ for me …” Her smile returns with the prospect. However it’s short-lived.

“Mi really feel like mi is jus’ a curse,” she wails.


Proper now the difficulty is easy methods to survive. Betty needs to know if she will be able to get the Authorities’s compassionate grant although two of the kids are on PATH. I actually don’t know however inspired her to strive. Who mentioned just lately in related desperation, “What have you ever bought to lose”?

It’s the kids we have to be most involved about. There isn’t any hope if the social and financial misery of Betty’s life turns into intergenerational. She and her type are already victims of these forces.

The 40 or so most vulnerable-for-virus communities recognized by Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr and Howard Mitchell have to be supplied with the fundamentals of life now. Can we rise past the politically branded packages out there to the chosen few?

Comply with the suggestion of the Threat Evaluation Research and interact the church buildings, the justices of the peace and keen academics to dispense meals and to suggest folks for restoration of livelihood grants. And it mustn’t take 30 days from software to disbursement both.

In these occasions, anybody who wants a meal ought to have the ability to get it – free and with out cross-examination. Contemplate the felony irony occurring earlier than our eyes. Farmers have tons of produce they can’t promote whereas tens of 1000’s of residents have run out of cash to afford meals. Can something be extra perverse?

Speak the reality now, Jamaica: maybe for the primary time ultimately, are we as much as displaying ourselves that we worth the lifetime of all of the sisters and brothers greater than their financial or political utility?

I’m trembling on the enormity of each the chance and problem of the second. With the fiscal area painstakingly wrought, the out there assist from worldwide sources and if there have been to be united nationwide management, Jamaica can rise after this pestilence, not as a power low-wage financial system, incubating extra like Betty and her type, however as a folks of promise, devoted to not bling, greed, playing and debauchery however to self-respect and belief; purposeful laborious work and the satisfaction which comes from generosity of spirit and energy.

The impressed discourse now needs to be easy methods to get us spiritually and financially enabled in order that – cured of crabbit irresponsibility and the frustration concerning the prosperity discuss, a doubling of the per capita earnings and wholesome household and social life – might occur, all inside our time.

Returning to the way in which issues had been is the ‘recession’ of which we should always have essentially the most concern.

This, in spite of everything, is the promise of Easter, new life rising from the struggling and loss of life of the dreaded virus. After which, then, Betty would now not consider her life as a curse – however a blessing!

Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Kingston Central. E mail suggestions to

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