The real problem With PATH

Dear Editor,

Everyone who cares about people is pleased with the adjustments to payments in the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH). There is, however, a major problem that has not been mentioned and may not be addressed. That would be unfortunate.

Let me try: If you give Tom $100 to give Dick, who is desperately in need, and half of the money is handed over, weeks later, the solution is not to give Tom $300 to give Dick on the second occasion. Maybe it would be better to select Harry to do the job next time.

What I am trying to say is that the real problem with PATH is the disgracefully poor quality of the service delivery. Among them:

1) having beneficiaries waiting in the sun;

2) telling people to come to the office regarding matters that could be settled on the phone, only to have the person turn up and the officer is not at work;

3) stopping payment without notice and without explanation, sometimes for months, then resuming after the beneficiary sacrifices her dignity (one person had to resort to the Jamaica Observer's Tell Claudienne column with the explanation printed in the Sunday newspaper, three weeks ago, that they "heard that she was dead". PATH does not pay arrears. So when payment stops, mysteriously for 5 months, then resumes, where does the funds for the missing months go?;

4) officers promising to visit the home, causing individuals to sacrifice a day's pay to see the officer, and often the officer does not turn up and there is not even a phone call to explain;

5) the school feeding programme carries with it shame and a stigma, so much so that many children prefer to go hungry;

6) parents visit PATH offices to get enrolled on the programme and can get no credible explanation why not

May I ask: Does anyone monitor the workers in this programme? How much of what is provided reaches the beneficiaries?

The programme is so badly needed by a sizeable portion of the population, but the same cold, heartless people continue to be responsible for its administration.

But, isn't this the way we have always treated the poor in this country?

Jazeel Myrie

St Andrew

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