Wed | Nov 13, 2019

Hello Mi Neighbour | If poverty is a crime ...

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:16 AM
Regional public relations manager for Sandals Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts in Negril, Jervene Simpson (left), hands over a package to an indigent resident of Hanover at the annual health fair staged recently by the Hanover Poor Relief Department at its Miller Drive location in Lucea.

Hello, mi neighbour! If poverty is a crime, what are we doing to stem this act of criminality that continues to wreak havoc on our society? And I am not about to commence historical or sociological discourse on poverty, dear reader. Suffice it to say that those who think that the poor should be pitied must also admit that those who ignore the poor may need greater pity.

Even as we recognise the myriad organisations that dedicate their energy and efforts to battling poverty, we also recognise that this problem is still crippling many families. Some cannot pay their bills, provide proper meals and shelter for their children, or even meet their medical demands. It’s just tough.

The thousand and one reasons for poverty are not the issue here. Reality is, some people are poor and cannot meet their demands! That should be of great concern to all us.

Taking a beating

Even as I write this article, I’m hearing of a neighbour who is at her wits’ end because her bills are piling up without a solution in sight. Adding to her frustration is that, though qualified, she cannot find a job. On top of that, she is a breadwinner whose self-consciousness prevents her from begging.

Met, a former fisherman, is battered by poverty. Since he gave up fishing because of an accident, he has been in very deep waters. He doesn’t want to steal because, as tough as the ‘prison of poverty’ is, he prefers it to a day in a correctional centre. Very smart man.

Whenever he leaves home, he cannot return empty-handed because the hungry must be fed. As usual, I gave him words of encouragement and a little cash with a promise to journey with him through this season of his life. And yes, we all go through seasons of life, but that’s a discussion for another time. What season are you going through?

I was just reading about five Jamaican women who seem to be going through a coveted season of their lives. According to a financial magazine, they are the top five richest women in Jamaica. Here’s the question: What if these women could partner with the five poorest women in Jamaica on a life-enrichment exercise?

To extend the question, what if all the wealthy neighbours in Jamaica each adopted a poor family? And the last question: What if all of us on this blessed island shared our blessings with one another? The answer is simple: All would enjoy a better quality of life. More children attending school on a regular basis, more people living under sound roofs, fewer children going to bed hungry, and less families living in the dark without running water because they don’t have the wherewithal to pay bills.

Another time, if poverty is a crime, what are we doing to stem this act of criminality that continues to wreak havoc on our society?



1. Pastor Taylor, Blessings and Deliverance Ministries.

2. District # 4, Webster Memorial United Church.

3. Dawn Marie, St Andrew.

4. Paula, St Andrew, for household items.

5. Yummy Bakery for kind donation.

6. Girl Guides Association, for act of neighbourliness.


1. Miss Jean, St Catherine, grandson is unemployed and

badly needs chair to do barbering.

2. Neighbour, asking for a sewing machine.

3. Ms Laing, St Andrew, asking for a stove.

4. Beverly, St Catherine – widow, asking for a refrigerator.

5. Neighbour, St Catherine, asking for financial help to

start a juice business.

6. Ophelia, St Andrew, asking for a dining table.


To help, please call Silton Townsend @ 334-8165 or 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276, NCB. Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR, c/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; Paypal/credit card email: Contact email: Visit Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.