Amid an unfortunate saga, which has cost one woman her survivors’ benefits from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Metrice Hinds, a 61-year-old widow has received moral and tangible support from a woman who understands her plight.
Charmaine Roland-Bowen, founder of Blessed Widows Ministries, on Friday arrived at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex with nearly ten supermarket bags to present to Metrice Hinds.
Hinds claims her survivors’ benefits were cut for the last six months, when NIS officials reportedly acted on a rumour that she had been remarried.
NIS’ Marketing and Research officer Katrina Benn yesterday revealed officials were looking into the matter. But in the meantime, Roland-Bowen, who is also a widow, has been reaching out. She is also appealing for a lawyer to come forward and assist with Hinds’ plight.
“I don’t know if it’s an [NIS] oversight, but this is an unfortunate example of what could happen where widows are concerned,” said Roland-Bowen, who is better known in her capacity as Barbados Road Safety Association President.
“This has been six years since I became a widow and I am afraid that what happened to Metrice can also happen to me or any other person who has lost their husband and it should not be.”
Pleading for NIS officials to move quickly, she said: “From all accounts, the investigation that is now happening at the end, should have been at the beginning and I don’t think it is fair for vulnerable persons to be taken advantage of. I would like the NIS to really look into it, because there are many widows, including me, that depend on the benefit and to stop someone’s pension for so long is unfair… Things should be thoroughly investigated before they counter with action.”
Ms. Hinds, a fish vendor for well over 30 years has now resorted to selling homemade seasoning and cigarettes to get by especially since there has also been a downturn in fish sales.
Roland-Bowen, while indicating she was helping in the best way she could, appealed to others, including churches, to assist.
“When your husband dies, sometimes you become a target even to friends of your former spouse,” she said.
“Mrs. Hinds needs much more, because her bills are unpaid, business is slow and she is at God’s mercy and I know as Christians, we’re going to come forward and help, because this is part of our responsibility. It’s not only to evangelise, but also to have mercy and love and give to others.”
Hinds could not hold back her tears of gratitude as she reacted to the kind gesture.
“I am so impressed that someone came on my behalf to help, because right now I’m really suffering. My water bill is $4000. I had to pay $400 so that they wouldn’t cut off my light and sometimes I can’t even put rice on my table. I am down here selling homemade seasonings, cigarettes, ‘fanta’ and wrappers,” she cried.