Poor people Ha Fi Go Dead!

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.


bustamante-children-hospital-kingston-jamaicaA dat mi housekeeper Annie seh when mi tell her how much fi di lab test weh her son ha fi do: $22,000! She no mek dat fi di whole week. Di pikni dida go a Children’s Hospital an she never ha fi pay fi none a di test dem. Dat a up to when im a 12. Last year, im turn 13. Ascorden to Children’s Hospital, im a big smaddy now. So dem done wid im.

Im start go a Spanish Town Hospital. Im have kidney problem from im born. An a plenty sufferation di poor lickle pikni go through. Wen im a two month old, dem operate pon im. An a so im an im mada a fight life so til im a go high school now.

Di last time im go hospital, dem gi Annie paper fi tek go a Public fi do sinting fi mek im vein dem open up. Through she ha fi work, she aks her friend fi go get one appointment. Dem tell her seh Annie ha fi come. When she go, dem tell her seh di pikni ha fi come too so dem can look pan im vein before dem gi im appointment fi du wa dem a fi do. So she go back wid him one next day.

Annie work wid mi two day fi di week an dat a did one a fi mi day dem. She go a Public early di morning fi see if she coulda get through an still come a work. Lickle before 11, she call fi seh all now dem no see no doctor. So mi aks her fi mek mi talk to di smaddy weh in charge. She never bodder wid mi. She go talk fi harself.

She tell mi seh di doctor weh fi see di pikni deh inna theatre. If she never go aks, she woulda never find out. Anyhow, one next doctor gi her paper fi go a Apex lab pon Molynes Road fi do di said same test weh dem shoulda do a Public. Im never even look pon di pikni.


By dis time, it never mek sense fi Annie bodder come a work. She just go straight a Apex. Dem seh dem no do dat deh test an dem send her to one next Apex pon Winchester Road. Di next week, she go after she lef work. Dem tell her seh dat deh section close 4 o’clock pon Friday.

She go back di next week. Dem tell her seh dem no do dat deh test. She fi go a Oxford Medical. Unu see how much time a waste a go up an dung fi nutten! Not to mention bus fare! Wen mi hear di story, mi tell Annie seh mi a go call Oxford Medical fi mek sure dem do di test.

Well, wen mi look pon di paper, mi couldn’t mek out nutten weh di doctor write. A pure crab toe. Wa mek? Power! Fi mek wi know seh doctor know more dan wi. An wi dis ha fi sop it. Plenty a dem doctor tek Hypocritical Oath, not Hippocratic. Dem love money more dan people. No bodder mek mi start pon dem.

Mi tek picture a di paper an email it to Oxford Medical. Dem know how fi read crab toe. A fi dem bizniz dat. An dem do di test. But koo pon di price! Weh Annie fi get dat deh money? Wi ha fi do plenty better wid health care inna dis ya country.

Pikni age not suppose fi stop a 12. Dat no right. An wi done know seh Govament can’t afford fi gi everybody free health care. A pure politics mek dem mash up di system. Who can pay suppose fi pay. An who can’t pay suppose fi get help. Poor people can’t just dead so fi nutten.


A dat mi ouskiipa Annie se wen mi tel ar omoch fi di lab tes we ar son a fi du: $22,000! Shi no mek dat fi di uol wiik! Di pikni dida go a Children’s Hospital an she neva a fi pie fi non a di tes dem. Dat a op tu wen im a 12. Laas ier, im ton tortiin. Azkaadn tu Children’s Hospital, im a big smadi nou. So dem don wid im.

Im staat go a Spanish Town Hospital. Im av kidni prablem fram im baan. An a plenti sofarieshan di puor likl pikni go chruu. Wen im a tuu mont uol, dem apariet pan im. An a so im an im mada a fait laif so til im a go a ai skuul nou.

Di laas taim im go aaspital, dem gi Annie piepa fi tek go a Public fi du sinting fi mek im vien dem opn op. Chruu shi a fi wok, shi aks ar fren fi go get wan apaintment. Dem tel ar se Annie a fi kom. Wen shi go, dem tel ar se di pikni a fi kom tu so dem kyan luk pan im vien bifuor dem gi im apaintment fi du wa dem a fi du. So shi go bak wid im wan neks die.

Annie wok wid mi tuu die fi di wiik an dat a did wan a fi mi die dem. Shi go a Public orli di maanin fi si if shi kuda get chruu an stil kom a wok. Likl bifuor 11, shi kaal fi se aal nuo dem no si no dakta.So mi aks ar fi mek mi taak tu di smadi we in chaaj. Shi neva bada wid mi. Shi go taak fi arself.

Shi tel mi se di dakta we fi si di pikni de ina tieta. If shi neva go aks, shi wuda neva fain out. Eniou, wan neks dakta gi ar piepa fi go a Apex lab pan Molynes Ruod fi du di sed siem test we dem shuda du a Public. Im neva iivn luk pan di pikni.


Bai dis taim, it neva mek sens fi Annie bada kom a wok. Shi jos go striet a Apex. Dem se dem no du dat de tes an dem sen a tu wan nex Apex pan Winchester Ruod. Di neks wiik, shi go aafta shi lef wok. Dem tel ar se dat de sekshan kluoz 4 aklak pan Fraide.

Shi go bak di neks wiik. Dem tel ar se dem no du dat de tes. Shi fi go a Oxford Medical. Unu si omoch taim a wies a go op an dong fi notn! Nat tu menshan bos fier! Wen mi ier di stuori, mi tel Annie se mi a go kaal Oxford Medical fi mek shuor dem du di tes.

hypocriteWel, wen mi luk pan di piepa, mi kudn mek out notn we di dakta rait. A pyuur krab tuo. Wa mek? Powa! Fi mek wi nuo se dakta nuo muor dan wi. An wi dis a fi sop it. Plenti a dem dakta tek Hypocritical Oath, nat Hippocratic. Dem lov moni muor dan piipl. No bada mek mi staat pan dem.

Mi tek pikcha a di piepa an iimiel it tu Oxford Medical. Dem nuo ou fi riid krab tuo. A fi dem bizniz dat. An dem du di test. Bot ku pan di prais! We Annie fi get dat de moni? Wi a fi du plenti beta wid elt kier ina dis ya konchri.

Pikni iej nat sopuoz fi stap a 12. Dat no rait. An wi don nuo se Govament kyaahn afuod fi gi evribadi frii elt kier. A pyuur palitiks mek dem mash op di sistim. Uu kyan pie supuoz fi pie. An uu kyaahn pie supuoz fi get elp. Puor piipl kyaahn jos ded so fi notn.



That’s what my housekeeper Annie said when I told her the cost of the lab test her son has to do: $22,000! She doesn’t make that much in a week. The child used to to go to the Children’s Hospital and she didn’t have to pay for any of the tests. That was up to when he was 12. Last year, he turned 13. According to the mandate of the Children’s Hospital, he’s now an adult. So that’s it.

He started to go to the Spanish Town Hospital. He’s had  kidney problems from birth. And that poor child has suffered so much.   When he was two months’ old, he had to have an operation. And he and his mother have been fighting against the odds.  He’s now in  high school.

The last time he visited the hospital, Annie was referred to the Public Hospital to do a procedure to open up his veins. Because she has to work, she asked a friend to go and make an appointment. She was told that Annie herself had to come. When she did go, she was told that the child also had to come so they could examine his veins before giving him an appointment to do the procedure. So she went back with him another day.

Annie works with me two days each week and that was one of the days she should have come to work.  She went to Public early that morning, hoping to get through in time to still come a work. A little before 11, she called to let me know that she still hadn’t seen a doctor. So I asked her to let me speak with  the person in charge. She didn’t  bother with me. She went and spoke up for  herself.

She told me that the doctor who was supposed to examine the child was in theatre. If she hadn’t asked, she wouldn’t have known. Anyhow, another doctor gave her a referral to Apex lab on Molynes Road to do the very same test that should have been done at Public.  And he didn’t even examine the child.


By this time, it didn’t make sense for Annie to come to work. She just went straight to Apex. She was told that they don’t do the test there and she was sent to the Winchester Road lab. The following week, she went after work.  She was told that that section closes at 4 o’clock on Fridays.

She went back the following week. They told her that they don’t do the test and sent her Oxford Medical. You see how much time was wasted going up and down all for nothing! Not to mention bus fare! When I heard the story, I told Annie that I was going to call Oxford Medical to make sure they do the test.

hippocratic-oathWell, when I looked at the form, I  couldn’t make out anything the doctor had written. It was pure crab toe. Why? Power! To let us know that  doctors know more than we do. And we just have to  put up with it.  A lot of those doctors have taken the Hypocritical Oath, not Hippocratic. They love money more than people. Don’t let me start on them.

I took a picture of the form and emailed it to Oxford Medical. They know how to read crab toe. They’re in that business. And they do the test. But look at the price! How can Annie afford that?  We have to do much, much better with health care in this country.

Children shouldn’t be cut off  at age 12. That’s not right. And we know that the Government can’t afford to give everybody free health care. It’s nothing but politics that made them dismantle the system we had.   Who can afford to pay should pay.   And those who can’t should get assistance. Poor people can’t just die like that for nothing.

One thought on “Poor people Ha Fi Go Dead!

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  1. Add that to the also much needed list of needs: public education, road infrastructure and water systems. If the gov’t could consider these worthy projects more jobs would be generated thus more money to fuel the economy…. Solutions if the gov’t truly wanted to make improvements affecting all Jamaicans ………

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