Opinion: Hungry old man

POSTED: 09/18/12 12:44 PM

How well does St. Maarten take care of its senior citizens? That question pooped into our head yesterday afternoon during a visit to Le Grand Marché on Bush Road.
There we encountered an old man who could easily be in his eighties or even beyond – hard to say. He was walking with a cane. He used his free hand to stroke his stomach and said that he was hungry.
Of course our first reaction was one of compassion: just wait here, we’ll get you something. We hurried up our midday shopping a bit and included some food for the old man. It cost us all of four dollars to buy a cheese patty and a chicken patty.
Outside the store we had some trouble finding the old man back but in the end we spotted him not far away. We handed him his food and went on our way.
Only later we thought: should we not get extremely angry about this? Is this the way a proud young country is treating its elderly citizens? Is this an example of someone who “fell through the cracks of the system?”
It is hard to imagine in this day and age that somebody could go hungry right under people’s noses. Yes, we know the political clamoring about children who are going to school hungry – and that’s not good. But at least, these children somehow have a voice somewhere.
This old man must be left alone and forgotten by the world. Churches, foundations with social objectives, the government, the private sector, there is nobody making sure that this man is taken care off in a decent way.
Okay – that is of course a rather superficial observation. But it is also the first time in years that we encountered somebody begging (for food, in this example) who is not an obvious drug addict. Our man is just old, and on a certain level he must be tough as well.
While we gave him some food yesterday we did not think about asking his name, or where he lives and that does not make us feel good either.
So if there is anybody out there who happens to know this hungry old man with the cane, please let us know, because we want to make sure that he will never have to beg for food again.

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Comments (1)


  1. Bedev says:

    I believe the person you saw is a Haitian man who used to cut grass with his machine. He had an accident long time ago (maybe in Haiti) and ended up with a crooked leg. Probably he was trying his luck in St.Maarten to find a job, but did not get through (illegal?). It is indeed sad to see that this old man has to beg for money to survive and you may wonder how and where he lives. Maybe some organisation could pick him up and take care for him?