Amid the usual barrage of chamber panels, macroeconomic analyses and inevitable dust-ups that follow the national budget, I decided to convene my own panel: Reyes, Jelisa and Shana (names changed), all single mothers working night shifts as security guards in a residential building and as eminently qualified as any of our commentators. This is the first of two instalments.
How does the budget affect you?
I just get a l’il glimpse (of the budget speech) when I was coming down the maxi. At the end of the day, you still have to go about your lives. I still have to come to work here, pay the bills. I have to come in here and behave as though nothing is happening around me.
I saw schools got the most amount and he is planning to build 25,000 houses for low income people. I would like a house. After the one percent there’s the two percent. (laughs)
They would not be employing anybody for a whole year. It not sitting well with me. Due to the situation in the country they should have employments and they will need more workers, more health workers.
I find they selling out their resources. If you’re the government you should be able to own at least 50 per cent or more of your resources.
What will we do if we get more cases, and we moving with just what we have in the health facility right now? Or before you even make the lockdown (shouldn’t) you employ enough health workers for next year?
(So many) in Trinidad are single mothers. I have three kids. You have to come here whole night and tomorrow in the morning be there for them in school. Between me and their father we have to switch. You’re just trying to keep a steady head: mental frustration!
How are your kids doing?
I don’t think they comfortable because my last daughter keeps asking: ‘mummy when school opening back!’ She fed up at home.
That (online schooling) is an added bill on your budget. Because now you have internet and now more meals a day for the children added on to your grocery list.
I not against modernising things we’re in the era where phone and thing is important but there is a process to go about these things. We’re not getting the support at all. At least think about it before saying it and doing it.
I would like to see this country back on track because I not able with the online school. My daughter suffering. You can’t have four- and five-year-olds on the online school.
My son wants to be a doctor and my daughter a dentist. All she likes pulling out teeth. She’s pull she own teeth out!
Is your employer investing in technology?
I don’t think so yet. I think it will be a slow process The old workers will have to do a lot of training.
How are you managing the digital shift?
I didn’t born with phone, and I need somebody to teach me and there is nothing in place and the government is not teaching people.
If I have a grandmother or aunt I can’t leave her alone with Zoom. In order to implement something they have to teach people first, they can’t just say to go buy it. But that is how the government does things.
I have a neighbour, she worked in the cinema but I see her home since then (the start of the pandemic). In my mind I’m wondering how is she able to keep living.
Do you know anyone who received government covid19 grants?
I know a few people that got but they had to wait really long. I had a “friend” get put out!
Not me I never get put out! (laughs). Her landlord wasn’t lenient and she was under stress. But if everybody leaves who will pay the rent?
Me as a single parent making less than $5,000... Paying rent, passage and food, but now tablet and internet too! Sometimes your back against the wall but the pickneys them need it. I was shedding tears at first. I now start to catch myself.
Everything hard right now. Where you getting the money to go and buy items and where the boss getting the money to pay workers?
Kiran Mathur Mohammed is a social entrepreneur, economist and businessman. He is a former banker, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.