Saturday, January 20, 2018

Better late than never for Ms Navas

ALBEIT late in coming, an audible sigh of relief must have been issued yesterday when Social Development and Family Services Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn informed the Express that social work staff was preparing to extend professional assistance to former Chaguanas mayor Natasha Navas.

Ms Navas’ unusual circumstances first came to light early this year through a television programme which also attempted to assist the central borough’s first woman mayor.
Whatever its motivation, that inexpert intervention accomplished little other than pushing the hapless woman further towards indignity, her humiliation later served to the public on a broadcast on the same programme.

By April this year, current Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan made a public appeal for help for Ms Navas who was then described as a shadow of her former self, walking aimlessly in parts of the borough she led from mid-2009 to 2010 when she demitted office in favour of Orlando Nagessar.

That appeal either fell on deaf ears or realised only short-term effect because this week, Ms Navas was again found to be in unfortunate circumstances at a Hindu temple in Cunupia.
Ms Navas is a public figure featured at the centre of a political face-down between now embattled former politician and international football administrator, Jack Warner, and Suruj Rambachan who served as mayor for six years before he was replaced by the Warner-backed Ms Navas.

There is ample evidence that politics takes no prisoners but one would have expected that the political party she represented would have stepped in to assist Ms Navas in what is obviously a time of special need. That having not occurred, the Chaguanas Borough Corporation under Mr Boodan was also mobilised but that too, apparently, achieved limited, if any, success.

It is a shocking statement of ineffectiveness at the level of Local Government bodies that one of its prominent members could not have been helped.Seven months later, Minister Crichlow-Cockburn has stepped in with no doubt a compassionate promise of State intervention.  It is left to be seen what effect this latest effort will have.

While we lament Ms Navas’ ill-fate and bemoan the ineptitude of structured and meaningful interventions, this newspaper cannot avoid grievous doubt about the State social sector’s capacity to assist less well-profiled citizens.  Given that Ms Navas could not have been helped sooner, what of lesser known citizens who also need help?

What is the country’s capacity from the national to the local level to deal with citizens who have fallen on hard times? The population was only last week told of the woeful inadequacy of mental health services for young people; it would seem that similar services for adults are also wanting.

This newspaper has called repeatedly for reform of social sector programming so that social services to the thousands who require it are delivered in a timely and holistic manner.
We repeat that call today as we wish Ms Navas well.