Editor: Whether we call it Public Assistance or Poor Relief, it conjures up in our minds “Learned Helplessness.” Handouts that create dependency are not good for our Psyche. Able bodied people receiving this assistance after having to beg for it usually lack confidence in themselves to enable them to engage in productive activity so that they can benefit society.
One gentleman upon receipt of his Public Assistance money took the entire package to the rum shop. He did not think of paying his rent of $ 20, his light bill of $ 5, his CWSA bill of $5, not even his food bill at the shop for $150. He had become so helpless that a concerned citizen had to command him to retrieve his money from the rum shop and walk him through to help him pay all the bills.
Some students on Public Assistance lack books and essential learning materials which the assistance was meant to provide. They do not want to pay the $50 for the book loan scheme nor any other school related fees. One refused to purchase a pencil which he needed and was begging for. Yet he was seen at the line of the Tuck Shop waiting to purchase food. His attitude was that,” his belly comes first”.
I thought that I could help and threw out the challenge to all students that I would purchase whatever they needed once they were willing to do some chore around the school. I expected to be strapped for cash as a result but few took up the challenge.
One of my greatest disappointments was to see students whose CSEC bills were being paid by Public Assistance squander the opportunity through lack of interest, study and eventual failure. Some students are in need because we fail to call on the fathers to provide for them. Sometimes the problem began at registration when the father’s name was not recorded. Whatever the case I have always had a positive response in most cases when I called on fathers to take up their responsibilities.
One lady on Public Assistance has what we call, “green fingers.” Anything she touches grows. If she is given help to grow vegetables, flowers, or fruit trees, she would have no need of Public Assistance.
The aim of the Budget for Public Assistance this year should be to help all recipients to become self-sufficient and contributing members to our society and in a position to help others.