Who cares about our island’s vulnerable?

The last several months have been pregnant with incidents highlighting the plight of the vulnerable. Poor people, women, children, differently-abled and the elderly are among our most vulnerable. Every time something ugly happens there is this electric jolt that awakens our seemingly dormant sensibilities, triggering a largely emotional response to problems that have confronted us for some time and for which there is yet any adequate comprehensive response.

While I acknowledge that vulnerability (to borrow from the late Herb Addo) can be characterized as inherent, induced or courted, I wish simply to recognize that there are persons who face tremendous challenges as they struggle to make it through their day! Images of battered women have been strewn across our TV screens for eons. Stories of horrific sexual assault and rape have for years littered the pages of our newspapers. Unsolved homicides seem to fade into the distant memory until the next incident. Suicides raise all kinds of speculations about what could be the root cause. Child abandonment cases are handled internally by families, neighbours and friends who are too embarrassed to report them or simply do not know where to turn for help. Injustices meted out to those with special needs or who are differently-abled are jaw dropping.

The poor increase in number, many of them spuriously mask any outward manifestation of their obvious economic challenges, perhaps in part because they are well aware that some blame the poor for their circumstances, and are scorned for not having “done well”. The working poor muster the courage to “go to work”, many serving with pride and honour, while it is evident that their pay does not provide adequate financial resources for their personal upkeep nor that of their family. But still they plod on.

The “new poor” are the recent victims of failing economic policies; people who are suddenly plunged into financial difficulty. Some have had to give up their homes; marriages/families are being fractured and some opt to flee overseas in search of a better life. The “new poor” – skilled and unskilled – have suffered similarly, with both groups facing the gloom and doom of poverty for the first time.

Disaffected youth seeking channels to vent their frustration sometimes get caught in the web of deviance and criminality. Their emotional and psychological challenges are compounded by their economic circumstances, with very few knowing where to go for “help”. Unfortunately they are labeled . . . and branded for life in some instances.

Too often, the easiest response is to attribute blame to one agency or another. The clichés that characterize the impulsive reactions have been played and replayed over time. We lament the decaying moral fabric of our society; churches are called upon to do more! There are calls for young boys to be taught to have greater respect for themselves and for females! There are those who ask the poor to exercise greater responsibility for their lives and that of their children.

The family comes under attack for not doing enough! Schools, teachers are asked to step up! And of course, there is no hesitation to blame the Government of the day! In total there is this general sentiment that the responsibility for holding our social fabric together has been outsourced to some invisible entity!

Further, there is this pot pouri of fixes that some espouse in the most abstract fashion! And there are those who are quick to mount their white horses and are very eager to pontificate on what ought to be! Others are outright dogmatic in blaming the victims. And sadly, for some, these social ills amount to nothing more than a fleeting news item!

In the midst of all this, there is an open question: who really cares about the plight of the vulnerable? But even more importantly, who will do something to bring some measure of relief to those most affected? I am obliged to stop here, and applaud the many civil society organizations which do their bit . . . albeit a drop in the bucket . . . sometimes it feels more like a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the problems that they are endeavoring to resolve. Notwithstanding, every little bit counts!

However, what I have found very disturbing is the deafening silence that follows, after all the sensationalism that comes with the ugly incidents, subsides. Victims are left in the wake of the “drama” to nurse emotional and psychological wounds for which they sometimes receive no intervention nor cure. Justice gets muddled in all kinds of self-serving excuses . . . except when certain individuals are personally affected. The economic woes of those trapped in abject poverty receive little more than statistical notation and discussions on poverty are subjected to all kinds of ill-founded speculations.

What is absolutely clear is that the response requires all hands on deck and that a comprehensive fix to, or reprieve from, the social and economic ills of this country demands a multifaceted approach and an amalgamated effort. This does not amount to any one agency being absolved from its duties though! But certainly there needs to be a champion to lead this process . . !

We all have a vested interest in ensuring that things do not deteriorate further. We all need to do our part. What we are required to do begins with lending our voice!

Dr. Rigobert is the MP for Micoud North and Leader of Opposition in Saint Lucia.

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8 Responses to Who cares about our island’s vulnerable?

  1. Poor people fed up! says:

    PSALM 12:5,
    For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him on in safety from him that puffeth at him.

  2. l says:

    It’s high time the world knows about the this. So when one of those tourists pay $6000-7000 to sandals ask about the wages of the islanders. Super markets when you sell your grapes for 20. 00 for a little tray how much are you paying your cashiers. Government officials look in the mirror what have you done to your people.

  3. l says:

    This government keep treating some of the less educated citizens with such inhumane disregard. They allow foreign investors to come to the country to get rich whilst they pay locals pennies on the dollar. Women are subjected to engaging in irresponsible behaviors to get extra money or they date men that can do stuff for them or give them extra money to offset their poor wages. Then they sell lands that are there as landmarks to the highest bidder. St Lucia is a beautiful island however it is morally bankrupt. It’s high time that young ladies to not settle for less. Men respect women. Its not how many women you sleep with that makes you a man but your character that you display because at the end of the day you are a pussy if you think it’s to act like this. Women demand respect from the men. Don’t let your libido control your life.

    • Poor People fed up! says:

      I totally agree with your statements, the government is so desperate to bring jobs to the country, low paying or not, there are so many factors that contribute to this, this is why I have always admired the island of Barbados, the way they do things and will not settle for their residents to be taken advantage of, they are a very patriotic people.
      Let us not forget that God is in control, Phd or not, the wise and prudent has been confounded and the whole world is out of course.
      Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
      Psalm 107:8

  4. Pel says:

    Good article Gale.

  5. Poor People fed up! says:

    Jesus stated: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. John :13 : 16.
    I am only his servant and I am by no means greater than him nor will I take is glory, the glory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be praised and let his enemies scatter!

  6. Poor people Fed up! says:

    Dr. Rigobert,
    I agree that all hands must be on deck because the problems are getting worse, we are in the last days and the bible stated that perilous times would come and here they are. The bible preaching churches must lead the way in these troubled times and not become fearful any longer, pray, pray, fast, everyone get baptized and ready for when he comes.

    I pray for my fellow St. Lucians but unless they pray for themselves we cannot have results. They have to agree because if two or more agree it will be done.

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