Yes you read that title right…. The Kingston & St. Andrew Municipal Council (K.S.A.C or K.S.A.M.C) in Jamaica has “ordered” (commanded) the citizens to “cease” (stop) feeding the homeless persons on the streets.
See the Public Notice below:
Ok so first, a Disclaimer: This is the most political response I have given when it comes to my blogs but please note that I am not against the K.S.A.M.C for doing this nor am I with any “BAN” against feeding the homeless.
NOW ON TO THE BLOG:
Apparently, this Public Notice has stirred up A LOT of controversy with the public especially because of the timing of the notice. The K.S.A.M.C published this Notice recently after a video of Buju Banton distributing meals to the homeless on the streets of Kingston went viral. Buju was recently release from a U.S. Prison and has really turned his life around. One of his generous acts, after being released, has been a random act of feeding the poor in Corporate Kingston. This is such an wonderful act of kindness! He is making a conscious effort to give back the the community and that is simply exquisite.
However, what has the response been??? Well apparently the K.S.A.M.C since then has issued the warning shown above. The reaction to that Public Notice?…. Well let’s just say it has not been well received by the general public.
Many people’s first thought is, at least for me anyway, how can we NOT feed the poor! Is the K.S.A.M.C seriously telling the people to NOT feed those in need?? Are they really trying to shame Buju for what he did? Jamaica is a seriously God Fearing and mainly Christian country so blatantly telling people to NOT feed the poor is rather ironic… but is it really?
Gone are the times where Jamaican people would run to the scene of an accident in an attempt to rush the injured to hospital. However, of late there has been instead people filming videos of car crashes and persons attempting to jump off buildings, photographing the dead after car accidents or shootings and SHARING on social media. These are just a few examples, however this topic is for a different post at another time.
Back to the topic at hand. Instead of the government taking a hint from Buju, the K.S.A.M.C decided it would be best to declare that feeding of the poor on the streets is “Not Tolerated.” At first thought, honestly, it sounds rather ridiculous! How can a government agency: “Order that this activity cease with immediate effect.” Crazy I know!
However, in staying true to myself, I see both sides to this situation.
The side of the public: This is ridiculous! Well for (1) the obvious reason of it being outright cruel to tell people that they should NOT feed the poor! Also, (2) how can they expect the homeless to get to these “DESIGNATED AREAS?” Have they hit the streets and told them where they are? Are signs posted for the public to read? Does the K.S.A.M.C offer transport for the homeless people?
The Side of K.S.A.M.C: Why did they do this? Well a few reasons could be: (1) The homeless (most of) are not mentally well and so proper garbage disposal can become a huge issue. They don’t know how to properly dispose of garbage. To be honest most of the general public doesn’t know much less the homeless! (however, I must note here that through a series of campaigns, this is being changed! Education is key!) I personally can actually picture an increase in tossed garbage in areas where they are fed. This reminds me of the New Kingston area that had/has a huge rat problem due all the garbage around. The rats being a big as small dogs! CRAZY (2) The homeless will/may come to EXPECT IT from everyone around them and harassment of the public will increase. I personally know where there are a few areas that this is a problem. (3) Some persons may, intentionally OR un-intentionally, give the homeless bad/contaminated food! Image the horror on the streets this could cause! Having homeless persons on the streets is already an issue that needs to be dealt with but can you imagine if they got sick because of the food they were given? The sanitation issue is already a problem when it comes to the homeless just simply being able to get clean, let alone handle their business if they get the runs!!! (4) Lastly, to be honest, the K.S.A.M.C did not outright “BAN” feeding the homeless but rather they stated that feeding them on the streets is “Not Tolerated.” They, instead, insist that if persons wish do to so they must do so in “DESIGNATED AREAS”, thus actually increasing group community volunteering! (AN UPSIDE)
Now, to be fair this IS a good idea. Arranging a “DESIGNATED AREA” is the best way to make sure everyone is fed fairly AND safely as well as for the safety of those who wish to carry out this act of kindness. I personally can attest to this as I have volunteered on many occasions to feed the poor in one of these “DESIGNATED AREAS” and it is run with order! It has to be. I have seen where those who are waiting to get fed begin to get impatient and rowdy and some, at the end of serving, even try to rush the serving area for MORE food on the way out. Being in that situation is NOT safe at all (esp. for women & children) and the men around me ushered myself and the other ladies outside so that we would be out of harms way. Now, imagine how out of control this could get if people were to do this on the streets. Women and children in particular. So we have to agree that these “DESIGNATED AREAS” will provide some regulation to feeding the homeless.
As it relates to making sure everyone is fed fairly, image if each of us decided to feed at lease one homeless person a day/week. Sounds geat right? But none of us will know for sure who the other is feeding and so some persons may get MORE food than they can eat while some get NONE! Not so great now is it? This was something that the “DESIGNATED AREAS” can actually control. The place I went to we had a system where it was ensured that everyone at tables got food BEFORE giving out extras.
So no, these “DESIGNATED AREAS” are not a bad idea. The problem though, I believe, that the public has is more about HOW & WHEN K.S.A.M.C went about handling it AND my questions are: “Where are these so called “DESIGNATED AREAS?” Why was this Public Notice sent out “Coincidentally” after Bujus video?
I personally only know of maybe 2 “DESIGNATED AREAS” and this is not by public notices, it is through word of mouth. They have not been listed on the Public Notice above and so of course the public is going to cry out and call K.S.A.M.C cruel! As it relates to the timing, I would hope it was just an unfortunate accident.
So are these “DESIGNATED AREAS” posted around the corporate area for us to see? Are they obviously declared? Not exactly, and here in lies the problem! The Notice tells us DON’T do X in Y area but then fails to declare why and where the proper areas are! A simple list attached to this Public Notice would really have made a difference. At this point the only way for us to find out about these areas is for individuals to (1) research them/ask around (2) create them in partnership with government facilities. How do you expect the homeless to know and get there?
So here is a question directed to Mr. Robert H.P. Hill: Instead of spending money on a public Ad, which could have fed several of the homeless, why not instead team up with Buju and or others alike? Since this public reaction has anything of such taken place or is being considered? Also, two things to note: (1): The way in which this Notice was worded, combined with (2) the timing of the Notice, makes it appear as though the K.S.A.M.C is targeting Buju and trying to make him look bad for the good that he has done. This is what the people see. I hope that this is not the case because if it is a case of “Punishing the good” then Lord help us! What we should be doing is praising Buju for doing this! Not trying to shame him! Just look at how Americans exposed Nipssey’s greatness! Sadly his greatness only came to light AFTER he died! Don’t let this be the case with Buju. Celebrate what he is doing NOW! Show the Jamaican people that you support good deeds and lead by example. He is setting a GREAT EXAMPLE! Yes he did something wrong but he has paid his dues and is showing the people that CHANGE is possible.
What should happen instead is a banding together with Buju for an even GREATER GOOD! If you want to have regularly controlled “DESIGNATED AREAS” no problem; in fact I agree with them! They just need to be properly declared as to where they are and offer a means for the homeless to get to them! And please, while your at it, disclose the reasons for doing this. I may see both sides (if my assumption of your reasons as to why are correct) but many others clearly do not understand this.
In closing, I know we cannot please everyone but that is not the point. The point is: If a Government Agency is going to do something, you need to lay all your cards down on the table and explain to the people what you are doing and why. After all, in the end, it is us, the citizens, that hold you accountable; it is us that you work for. Is that not the point of a government?
Oh and by the way to end on a somewhat Lighter Note, here is a little Side Note: This is a good “Reverse Psychology” situation so expect an increase in feeding the poor on the streets. People tend to do things just because they were told not to… it’s the “Bad pickney” in all of us! Hahaha!
That’s all for now guys! Please feel free to leave comments below!