March 7, 2021

The Editor Speaks: What a terribly sad week

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Colin WilsonwebSeldom have I seen such a sad week here on Grand as this past one.

The terrible news of a six-year old child stabbed to death and the even more shocking revelation the mother of the child accused of the crime. It would also appear the mother attempted to take her own life.

I cannot imagine the pain the immediate family starting with the husband/father are going through at this incredibly sad time.

It was an insane act. If it is found the mother is mentally ill then the Cayman Islands is definitely not the place for her to stay. We, an island that prides itself on being a first class place to live with all the modern conveniences at our disposal, and state of the art hospitals that can perform heart operations, but when it comes to mental illness we have almost nothing to offer.

Justice Charles Quin has twice recently described the situation when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill here as appalling, or words to that affect, and he is right.

I have not heard anyone in government take up his cry. One of our psychiatrists has been lamenting the problem with the mentally ill on a drum for a long time now but it is not being heard.

Then we come to the electricity company, who according to the report on CNS, cut off the electricity to a house where a handicapped woman lives because she was behind on her payments by just two months.

“Customer accounts are due for payment twenty-one days after the bill date and are considered delinquent thereafter,” a spokesperson from CUC told CNS Thursday. “Thirty days after the bill date, if the outstanding balance is greater than $35, the account is subject to disconnection for non-payment.” It might just as well as been a robot speaking.

The problem with that cold hard statement is that one is dealing with human beings. Human beings are not objects. We have all become nothing more than a statistic. A number – not even a name anymore. Electricity is almost life and death and in this case the person they cut off has a broken leg and had pleaded with CUC that she couldn’t get to the CUC office to pay the bill. She is stumbling around now in the dark. Not everyone has a computer and can pay online. Many companies actually charge you now for sending you a bill. You have to sign up to an email account. No computer you might as well have both legs broken.

Customer service is rarely that. Certainly not with a smile. Have you ever tried to pay your bill at the CUC office? Mostly long queues and tired staff who can hardly look up and give you a glance let alone a smile. That, unfortunately, is the norm in most companies especially the larger ones and not just here. And try talking to someone on the telephone in customer service. Over half of the personnel are not even in this country and you can’t understand a word they are saying.

In the early days when I was here one could actually give the money you owe to the CUC man who was going to cut you off! But with so called progress that isn’t allowed anymore.

And when you read the blogs that accompany the CNS story it is enough to make you wonder if there is such a thing as human kindness left here. How very sad.

It would be eye opener to all of us if we knew the figures as to how many persons have been cut off for being delinquent in their CUC accounts, but the Electricity Regulatory Authority keeps no figures on the number of people disconnected and I suspect CUC won’t be too ready to supply that information.

As the writer of the CNS article rightly says, “anecdotal evidence suggests that the numbers are increasing. With rising fuel costs, the loss of the rebate, the extra duty and the increase in the firm’s base rate, customers are facing ever-growing electricity bills”.

I find it also sad that we as a community have no solution, nor a desire to help. There is no welfare service system in place here that can compare with the United Kingdom’s for instance. There it has just been announced thousands of low paid Britons are to get a pay rise after companies have signed up to a Living wage programme. iNews will be covering that story tomorrow.

And last, but not least, this week I watched sadly as a bulldozer demolished homes on Shedden Road, near Phillips Electrical, where several of the tenants were living right up to when the mighty dozer arrived. They had refused to leave despite an eviction notice and their power and water supply being cut.

They watched in horror as before there very eyes a piece of them died as the heartless machine effortlessly tore down the abode they had called home.

And five of these homeless persons were the five children of Anna Evans, the landfill worker who disappeared without trace in January 2011.

It is very difficult to relocate people when they are being forced out of their homes no matter what the law says. They are human beings and no one likes to leave their comfort zone.

With all the police that was needed to keep order, the arrests made, the subsequent court hearings and proceedings and legalities in connection, the costs now involved and to come, make no sense. The whole business was mishandled and no attention paid to pride nor decency and especially human kindness. It is not surprising arrests were made. If it was my home being torn down without my permission, no matter what the law says and judged they would need more that a few police to arrest me!

There was certainly blame on both sides and we can pass judgment even when we don’t know all the facts, gawk at the spectacle live or watch it on the evening news via the local television station.

But we all could have helped and if everybody had been willing it would not have been much cost to our pockets.

Just look how much the NCVO raised in five hours!

Welfare, care, kindness and looking after our mentally ill have almost deserted us. If we protest lock us up. If we can’t pay up lock us up. If we are mentally ill lock us up and preferably throw away the key.

Sad isn’t it?

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  1. Carol-Ann Rudy says

    Yes, it’s sad. Are church congregations coming to the aid of the homeless featured in your story? And surely there is or should be an ombudsman to assist those such as the person having electricity cut off that can assume the figurative scissors to cut through the red tape?
    Yes, these are human beings. Where’s the humanity in corporations and government that overlook this?

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