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Go beyond mere handouts

ACP Mervyn Richardson's obvious disappointment on the Beetham on Wednesday night on TV can be understood from his angle in terms of the continuing efforts he and his team have been making to give support to the residents of this community, and now this! On the highway!

But he shouldn't be surprised. His optimism that such efforts should bear fruit does not take into account the psychology of such efforts and others in the past used by the Government and the Minister of National Security such as the recent Family Day and the promise of jobs, Colour me Orange and Hoop, for Life inter alia.

However, well intentioned such efforts may have been, they are perceived by the beneficiaries as appeasement strategies to win them over and so possibly secure their votes for the future, which in turn gives them a sense of power to make demands, or else!

What compounds this situation, according to one call-in resident on a TV programme, is that efforts like those of Richardson are directed to gang leaders and delinquent youths and not to the community as a whole, which gives a "negotiating with bandits" flavour to efforts at assistance.

The politics of such thinking does not allow for the kind of appreciation that should come from a genuine recognition that others are trying to help. What evolves is a "ransom" situation with people like Richardson et al, on the receiving end.

This begs the question as to whether people like Richardson must continue their efforts to help to reform and alleviate the hardships of communities like the Beetham. The answer is yes, but first the values of work, initiative, responsibility and reward must be worked into programmes, one such being the idea of women's cooperatives, and there are others, and these among the community as a whole and not only among gang leaders and delinquent youths.

This is a meaningful and progressive alternative to the programmes at present which appear to be mere handouts intended to serve the politics of appeasement.

Dr Errol Benjamin

via e-mail

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