'Tan a yuh yard!: We're not all in the same boat

'Tan a yuh yard!: We're not all in the same boat

Friday, April 03, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Please don't think I haven't grasped the importance of staying at home as we try to kick Miss Corona to the kerb. However, I don't think I have ever seen an issue which has so clearly shown the divide between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'.

I know we need to stay at home to slow the transmission rates, but what I find disgusting is the insensitivity and the mockery levelled at some of the have-nots by some of the privileged and entitled. Many of us have the privilege of staying home where we can be in a different part of the house from others. Remember that some households have four or five in one room — so much for social distancing. Most of us can stockpile food. Some have to go on the street every day to hustle, sell sup'm, beg somebody a money, etc, to put on a pot of cornmeal porridge or cook some chicken back and dumplings.

“They need to stay at home!” “Tan a yuh yard!” “Work from home!” “Wha dem a do pon street?” We pontificate from our lofty professional and educated platforms, but we need to ask ourselves: What about the person not listed as an essential worker, who sells bun, cheese, and bag juice at the school gate to feed his or her children and purchase medication for an ailing parent or child? Can he/she sell the bun and cheese inside the house? The barmaid who is paid $3,000 per week and relies on tips to top it up, how must she now buy food and medication? Can you not judge your helper or gardener who you sent home without even an additional week's salary or two rolls of toilet tissue, though your pantry is overflowing, and who may have to hustle to survive?

A few days ago I took a food package to a mother who was crying because she could not take her medication on an empty stomach and there was no food. She had just lost her job as a cleaner. I know there are some efforts in place, but many are outside of the net.

Please don't misinterpret and distort what I am saying and respond with “So everybody must just go up and down and spread the virus freely?” Nope, that is not what is being said, and the truth is I don't necessarily have the answers, but I know we must ramp up the discussions. All I ask of all my privileged, educated, professional friends who have turned out well in life and don't have to live hand to mouth is that you spare a thought, send a prayer, and stop belittling, judging, and berating the less fortunate who are not home living on a pension, not able to earn while working from home, cannot buy food to last a month, don't have a credit card, and perhaps have to look in the face of hungry children. Now is not the time to cuss them over their life choices and say “dem shoulda did go a school and dem woulda be better off in life”, while preparing to sing loudly in church and tithe heavily.

Let us knock heads and find some solutions, but in the meantime, my heart weeps for the entitled, fortunate and privileged who don't understand that we are not all in the same boat.

Joan Andrea Hutchinson

c/o chemajamaica@outlook.com


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