Families under pressure


Friday, June 22, 2018

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The past weekend of parental gift-giving for the fathers among us has moved along. The future of the family continues to remind us how much change there has been in the life and times of families, here, there and everywhere.

In the US, controversies are not unusual. During the week now slipping past there have been occasions of deep pain for some families caught up in politics. The world has been watching as a situation involving families who have made their way from Mexico into the US have found themselves detained and separated by the authorities.

Imagine children who have ended up locked in cages, like wild animals, removed from the care of their parents with little or no hope for what lies ahead. Meanwhile, onlookers seem to keep their distance, heartbreaking though the events of recent days have been.

UK Prime Minster Theresa May, her Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, and Pope Francis made their discomfort public. Comments from leaders in this region have been more muted. Perhaps, as old-timers say, in our kind of folk language, “Hand inna lion mouth, tek time draw it out.”

The US has made it evident that it is not open to what may seem to be others interfering in their business. Immigration and national security are touchy subjects right now. International politics has got as hot as the last few days have been. Within the US, there has been rising political pressure over the status of the children, some as young as a few months old, being housed in facilities, with no clear information on how they can reunite with their families. The discussion built to boiling point with claims and counter-claims as to who was responsible for the actions, and whether or not the people who put their families at risk have any say in how they will be received.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at keeping families together while their immigration status is reviewed. We will watch to see what happens. Regardless of their parents' actions, children should not be made to suffer.

Family lessons

One of the most interesting ways to see families in action is while they are shopping. It has become a scene of learning. On any given occasion, you can see how many young children are being introduced to how their households function. The parents discuss what they can and cannot afford, and most times the children seem to accept and understand the decision. To see children taking on the task of helping to choose items and putting them in baskets or carts with the same seriousness and care as the more mature shoppers is a sight. Certainly those children will grow up with a better understanding of the world around them. It is far better than seeing those who are let loose on fellow shoppers.

The future for Papine Market

Regular shoppers in Papine have been made to wonder when the work will begin to restore the market. Some weeks ago a fire broke out there, and many regulars take much interest in the way the market is maintained. The vendors take pride in their stalls and the produce they sell. The result has been steady patronage from customers.

After the fire, the vendors, women especially, have worked, and worked hard, to get things back on spot. I and others have in the past few weeks made visits to see how they are managing. The roof of the market still shows large holes exposing all to the weather. I was told that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation has said the work is in the “procurement stage”. May I suggest putting in a temporary cover of tarpaulins to offer some protection to the vendors and shoppers alike.

The vendors continue to do their work, bringing in more produce for sale, and the shoppers are still coming. I must tell you, though, when I made my last visit, a small boy riding a little version of a bicycle made his way past everybody. As he rode swiftly by he was sternly warned to mind the goods and the feet of bystanders. He cut his eye and rode off. Only in Jamaica.

Bad Russian joke

Burger King in Moscow, Russia, thought they were pulling off a good one when they offered a reward of lifetime supply of their burgers to Russian women who get pregnant by World Cup players. Well, the joke didn't come off. It was regarded as sexist and demeaning. Wheel and come again!

By the way, have you been caught by the World Cup fever yet? Old favourites are being challenged by nations with smaller football pedigree. I get the feeling some people might not make it through the coming month!

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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