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Editorial: Don’T Look Away From Those In Need

WHEN the sun rose yesterday, they were already waiting.

Lines of cars crowded the streets outside the Thomas A Robinson from as soon as they could travel without breaking the curfew.

At 5.15am, the cars were already there for the food drive by Island Luck’s IL Cares group. The giveaway wasn’t due to start until noon.

We talk a lot about the effects of COVID-19 on the economy. Often, it’s a numbers game. Tourism down by this amount. Mortgage debts up by that amount. Talk of the need for disconnections as unpaid bills are racked up at BPL or WSC.

It can be hard to get your head around what those numbers mean to people. Yesterday morning gave a visual demonstration of just how desperate people are.

Faced with long queues, the IL Cares group lived up to the second part of their name, and started handing out the parcels more than four hours before they had planned.

This wasn’t a fortune being handed out – but it may have been worth more than a fortune to those who needed it. A typical box contained sugar, cream, sardines, cornflakes, grits, hand sanitisers and face masks. Just enough to keep alive.

One man with five children and three grandchildren said he needed it because he couldn’t deplete the few funds he had from working part time since the pandemic began because he needs it for medical funds.

Another woman said she was in need even before the pandemic and was finding caring for her grandmother demanding.

We all know in our hearts how desperate some people are in the midst of this crisis, but it’s impossible to deny the evidence of our eyes.

The government’s own food assistance programme is due to end at the end of this month. No decision has been announced yet as to whether it will be extended.

For the sake of all those who queued for hours to get a little something to keep them going, that extension could be the difference between life and death.

Human trafficking

Trafficking of women through The Bahamas is on the rise, according to National Security Minister Marvin Dames.

In recent years, he says there have been more women trafficked for sex or domestic exploitation, he says.

As to what’s being done about it, Mr Dames cited the amendment of legislation in 2017 to further tackle trafficking.

It is a complex issue in many ways – crossing borders and affecting thousands of people in the region – though it is not one we hear about often enough.

Certainly, we sometimes see cases coming up in court that seem connected to trafficking in some way or another, and sometimes read of interceptions by the RBDF of boats with one Bahamian and a number of foreigners on board. But it’s often a quiet crime, one that carries on in the society around us but is seldom acknowledged.

It mostly affects women – and it is timely to acknowledge that with the recent 16 days of activism focusing on violence against women. The authorities can only do so much, of course – and what they need is help from society. We need to call out those who exploit people in this fashion, so often exploiting women.

We applaud Mr Dames for addressing the topic as part of an international event – and would encourage him to address it further here at home. This is an issue we should stand together on. There should be no place for the actions of traffickers in our society – and we should be united in refusing to allow them to be tolerated.

Comments

themessenger 2 months, 3 weeks ago

"Lines of cars crowded the streets outside the Thomas A Robinson from as soon as they could travel without breaking the curfew."

All that notwithstanding, and I don't doubt for one minute that many of these people are truly in need, I still have to wonder how many of them are simply taking advantage of The Free Lunch that Bahamians love so much.

I happened to go to Kelly's Home Centre on the weekend, the parking lot was overflowing as was the store, Bahamians shopping by the score but everybody broke.

So much for austerity measures and rainy days.....................

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