Caroline Cooper | Jamaican Red Cross as the dog in the manger | Remark
A vicious dog ferociously guarded a manger filled with hay. The dog wouldn’t eat hay but he refused to let the cattle into the barn for food after a hard day’s work. The dog acted as if the hay was meat, which he wanted to keep for himself. When the farmer saw what the selfish dog was doing, he chased it away with a good beating.
This is one of many fables allegedly told by Aesop. According to legend, he was an enslaved African in Greece. Some scholars propose that Aesop was from Ethiopia. Others suggest he was Nubian. Still others maintain that he was born in Greece. It is widely believed that he was eventually freed from slavery, thanks to his talent. Like his tales, Aesop himself appears as a fable.
The website Interesting Literature defines Aesop’s dog in the manger as “someone who has no need (or ability to use) of a good that would be useful or valuable to others, but who prevents others from to see her”. Aesop’s fable reminds me of the mismanagement of Peach Beach by the Jamaican Red Cross and its denial of assistance which would increase the value of the property.
A DISTURBING STORY
The parallels between the Red Cross and the dog are not precise in every detail. The organization needs the beach. It is an extremely valuable asset that could generate much-needed income. Like the dog, the Red Cross doesn’t seem to have the ability to use this asset. The management seems to lack both the vision and the financial resources to develop the beach to its full potential.
Like the dog, the Red Cross prevents others from accessing the beach. On Wednesday, March 10, I emailed MP Daryl Vaz about his negotiations with the Red Cross on the development of Peach Beach. I have to commend him for responding quickly. He phoned and told a disturbing story. It was not a fable. Responsible for land, environment, climate change and investments, Vaz played a major role in formulating a private/public partnership that would benefit the Red Cross and the Jamaican public.
Working with the Tourism Product Development Company, the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Discovery Bay Community Development Committee, the Red Cross would secure funds to upgrade Peach Beach. Around J$30 million has been approved to develop Discovery Bay’s long stretch of beach from Fisherman’s Beach to Peach Beach.
At first, the Red Cross seemed willing to participate in the partnership, as evidenced by a letter from Chief Executive Miss Yvonne Clarke to Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett, dated August 29, 2018: “We are writing to follow up on a conversation between your good self and our Vice President, Mr. Martin Gooden, regarding the Jamaica Red Cross Beach Front Property at Discovery Bay, St Ann.
“As noted, the Jamaica Red Cross wishes to restore basic amenities to the property to facilitate comfortable, sanitary and safe use of this beautiful beach.
“We hope you will see fit to partner with us and provide financial support through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to make this a reality. Such an undertaking will allow us to meet the needs of the community and attract much-needed income for Red Cross operations.
“We thank you for your attention and urgently await your invitation to discuss our request.”
Miss Clarke’s letter was copied to Mr. Carey Wallace, Executive Director of TEF; Dr Dennis Edwards, Mr Martin Gooden and Dr Jaslin Salmon, President and Vice Presidents of the Jamaican Red Cross respectively. The partnership seemed like a done deal. But there was a key in the works: the Discovery Bay Community Development Committee (CDC). The Red Cross seems to fear that the Committee wants to take control of the beach.
THE DOG AND THE BONE
During the CDC’s February 2019 general meeting, it was noted that “Minister Vaz has been trying to organize a meeting between his office, the CDC, the TPDCO and the Red Cross since November 19, 2018, but he does not has not succeeded so far”. The following decision was made at this meeting: “It was agreed that the CDC would write to the Red Cross to tell them that we are aware that the beach belongs to them and that we are ready to work with them. The letter was sent but it did not seem to have the desired effect.
Daryl Vaz told me that after repeated attempts for several months to contact the Red Cross, he finally got a response, which he reported in a letter, dated April 30, 2019, to Lee Arbouin, then president. from the CDC: “I regret to inform you that I have finally received a response from the Jamaican Red Cross, and I am sorry to say that surprisingly they are not committed to the program that was discussed previously.
“So I have to find another way to deal with the matter.”
The Jamaican Red Cross must heed the moral of another fable told by Aesop which is documented on the United States Library of Congress website: “A dog, to whom the butcher had thrown a bone, was rushing home with his prize as fast as he could go. . As he crossed a narrow footbridge, he happened to look down and see himself reflected in the calm water as in a mirror. But Greedy Dog thought he saw a real Dog with a much bigger bone than his own.
“If he had stopped to think, he would have known better. But instead of thinking, he dropped his bone and jumped on the dog in the river, only to find himself swimming to reach the shore. Finally, he managed to dash off, and as he stood sadly thinking of the good bone he had lost, he realized what a stupid dog he had been.
The Kaiser Bauxite Company gave the Jamaican Red Cross the juicy bone that is Peach Beach. But it seems that greed prevents the organization from sharing the management of the beach with the community, represented by the CDC. Hopefully, the Red Cross will collectively beat common sense into its own head and allow all interested parties to enter the proverbial stable and enjoy the benefits of Peach Beach.