Shadow – I Wish



BY Ewalt Ainsworth                                 04 24 2012

While the Guyanese politicians are squabbling over an appropriate package and approval of a ten towels (US 50.00) pension for senior citizens; administrators for a homeless shelter in New York are looking to seek an amicable way of providing for a cat belonging to a Guyanese woman who is a “recurring decimal” and pays out US 250.00 or fifty towels a month to keep her cat in another shelter designated for cats only.  The GT binnie is also hopeful that the 30 per cent increase as argued by the APNU becomes retroactive to January so that she can make a quick dash and bring up her payout to take care of business in North America.

There was a time when folks migrated so that they can take care of their families back home.  Migrants are returning now at genip season, mango season, guava season, breadfruit season and when the back-pay becomes available and convert it to US so that they can take care of themselves.   

In this new universe and global marketplace, grace must replace gaul and gumption.  The people who are staying out of shelters are those who are keeping it simple and stacking up on simplicity.  Homelessness has no face and the vulnerability quotient is real.  Money, education and fashion are obsolete substitutes for an un-common wisdom.  The world has changed and all the ideals and selfish behaviors of politicians trying to make and break societies are also obsolete.

Last week when the NYC administrators met, this same client with the cat had an issue with a six-inch cylindrical object (deodorant stick) stuck in her vagina after emerging from a mid-morning shower.  Details of how it got stuck in her are both suspect and  sketchy but the administrators are hard pressed to determine how best to keep her out of trouble and contemplating sending her back to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.  A cursory look at the rolls of who makes a client include airline pilots, teachers, nurse-midwives, chefs, accountants, architects, taxi operators, optometrists and bankers.  The most vulnerable are single parent mothers with children in arms.   Immigrant women too make up a significant population in shelters; physical and domestic abuse seems to be the mitigating circumstances even though the vast majority are employed and employable.

Another coupling to the problems in shelters especially among young mothers with children in arms is diaper rashes.  Some folks, in order to make the few pennies go around, re-use and re-cycle diapers.  Adults too seem to have rashes and this has created artificial shortages for over the counter medications and powder.    Personal hygiene is also a culprit and so too is consumption of legal and illegal drugs.

Social Services in New York and in scores of other shelter communities are hard pressed to find unilateral and uniformed ways of dealing with the face of the new homeless.  Guyanese, even though they are English speaking, are presenting some new and totally different problems that the city governments are finding challenging.

When forensic examinations are done and probes are conducted, one of the culprits affecting GT families is the urgency to scam the system so that they can take care of relatives back home.    Another client, who is a frequent flyer between Newark and Bom Finn in Brazil, and then over the Takutu bridge, amasses from charity organizations all kinds of clothes, bicycles and computer games and bulk ships to GT.  She lives like a nave and speaks in superlatives about her courage when in fact she should be talking about grace and gratitude.

On face value, clients in homeless shelters should be able to subsist and co-exist.  The cat lady, the Guyanese client who owns her own home in the Bronx, age 70, is the mother of four boys and all of them are in different war torn countries overseas.  She claims she depends on them for support and is registered in a prestigious college pursuing post-doctoral studies.  She has no heat and or running water compounded by her electricity being shut off.

In the summer months she plants a communal garden that generates approximately US10,000 a year.  Under her social security benefits, she can earn as much as US 14,000 without fear of penalty or repercussions.  During the day she lives in her home but at nights she gets a bed in a shelter and her medications, therapy and other mental health bills average around US 3,500 per month.  Now she wants to add her cat to the tab and this is bringing a headache to the city.

The city in other times, has been giving clients one way tickets to any destination whether it is Main, Moscow or Morocco.  But clients take the money and make a left turn only to be found in another borough next winter season.

Comparatively speaking, Guyana is making styles to pay US 50.00 per month.  A Guyanese in the diaspora in the same age and category gets more than US 3,500 in benefits.  One person who was interviewed said that he would not return home under any circumstances because “GT ent got garbage.”

Some folks have made a profession, a lifestyle and a livelihood of living on the streets.  Last Sunday at the petrol station, my family tried to help a familiar soul jump start his car.  We discovered all that he owns in his back seat and trunk.

This writer has also seen a prominent politician now turned a real estate broker and drives a MERCEDES, homeless in North America.  This year is the fifth year he is driving without a reverse gear; he couch surfs between friends and family summer time.  Winter, he comes to an island in the Caribbean and works in a baker shop to keep warm.

Guyana’s politicians have to ramp up their social services especially in the arena of shelters and accommodations for the homeless.  Every contract employee is in imminent danger of falling through the cracks.  The PPP has set some traps to destabilize the moral content and mental stability of so many that it is reverberating in the diaspora.  The subject at hand should not be pitied or laughed at.  It is not enough to have a job or an education.  Modern living also calls for an inner strength for each citizen, each denizen, each person to know his or herself and face the challenges with grace rather than with gaul.


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