Cut the red tape! - Frustrated pensioner urges government to make it easier to donate items
Seventy-year-old pensioner Gwen McLeish, who resides in England, has returned to the motherland with a heavy heart as she lost a container filled with goodies earmarked to help to alleviate the needs of at-risk youth and other poor families in Clarendon.
McLeish told The Gleaner that it is the second time she has lost a container, plus three barrels that she had sent to facilitate the charity outreach in the parish.
She recounts tales of frustration in trying to register the company in order to apply for a charity certificate.
McLeish said by the time she got through with the paperwork to register the company, she had racked up too much money and could not afford to pay the fees.
In July, a container arrived in Jamaica with machinery to shred herbs, a mill which she said was intended to use in teaching the youth to mill seeds, office equipment, forks, shovels and dining tables for some poor families, among other items for children. McLeish also purchased a 30-foot container and had planned to donate it as a start-up for someone looking for a break.
"I have to keep dances and all kinds of fundraisers to buy things to send out here. So when the government think tourists are the only ones bringing in money, people overseas work more and constantly keep sending more in this country," she ranted.
An obviously upset McLeish said many in the Jamaican diaspora have no idea about Jamaica's laws surrounding donation, but what they have is a good heart and one that's willing to help.
"We just have a good heart to do goodwill as it is expected of us to do, whether it is for the family or country, but if this is how we will be treated we will stop from giving," she said.
McLeish, who said she is highly frustrated and sometimes think about focusing her energy on other nations, noted that the love for country sees her still wanting to give back.
'They (government) need to cut some of the red tape for those wanting to give back," she said, adding that her last effort came at a high cost as she was sick, dealing with a mentally ill son who eventually died, and losing her mother to illness too. But through it all, she managed to do the fund-raiser and got the container sent off, only to lose it all.
"I expected more support from Jamaica government. Change your red-tape policy whether it's a barrel or a container," she said.
McLeish shared that a lot of times her charity comes from out of pocket, especially when she assists children in going to school, as well as providing uniforms and other necessities.
McLeish said she started the registration process in May, and sent off the container in June, hoping the paperwork would have been completed by then. She did not get the documents done until August. This after the container was sitting on the wharves since early July. She later admitted to not knowing that the charity certificate wouldn't have been any help as the items were shipped before she received it.
For now, McLeish said she doesn't think she will send another container to the island, but said she is still committed to a programme she started with the windshield wipers at Three Miles and some of the outreach in Clarendon that she has thrown her support behind.