Nassau Guardian image of Lewis Smith waiting for service at Social Services in Fox Hill on 17 December 2020
Senator Fred Mitchell told this story on Christmas Day. He got up at midday to take a gift to Mrs. Katherine McKenzie. She celebrates her birthday on 25 December and on this past Christmas Day 2020, she turned 87 years old. It was a great visit. However, just before he got here, someone, a long time resident of Fox Hill, stopped him to say hello. He asked the resident how he was doing. The resident replied something like thank God for life but we have no food in our house. There is nothing to eat, he said. The Senator gave him what he could.
A few weeks before that, Lewis Smith was on the front page of the newspaper. His picture had been taken in front of the social services office in Fox Hill. His complaint was that monies tagged at 85 dollars per month were supposed to be coming to his Kanoo account. The Department had stopped providing him with coupons on the basis that the money would be put electronically to his account. The money from June to November never appeared. He has not been working during the pandemic, so the 85 dollars was his one source of cash. The matter came to the attention of Senator Fred Mitchell, The issue was resolved after speaking to the Minister of Social Services.
This is not empirical evidence of bad times or of poverty. But the international statistics show that across the Latin America and Caribbean region, with the coming of the pandemic, millions have been plunged right back into the poverty from which they had escaped during the growth years a few years before.
From our bible stories, one example being the story in Genesis of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh, we have known that economies go in cycles. The trick is to be able to save during the good times, in order to take you through the hard times. That is so in the individual human life but also in the life of a nation. It can only be a theory because in life crises hit unexpectedly. Such is the example of the storm Dorian last year and the Covid pandemic this year and no doubt there will be more.
Our nation had and still has a lot of credit. The question to be asked: with all the hunger going on in this country in a land of plenty, is the government of the Free National Movement under Hubert Minnis doing all that is can to solve the problems of hunger and housing which presently plague the nation and which has thrown many of our people back into poverty?
We think the answer is a resounding no.