When his wife got a stroke three months ago, 52-year-old Neilbarran Bissoo lost his job as a CEPEP worker because he had to stay home to care for her.
With no steady income coming in since his wife Samdaye Baldeo, 47, also could not work, putting food on the table for them and their two daughters, ages six and ten, have been a daily struggle.
“Usually I do my lil garden work, plant meh cassava and bodi and that is how we making out,” said Bissoo at their Digity Village, Debe home.
Barely furnished, the small plywood and galvanize shack standing on pieces of wood and concrete blocks, has no electricity or running water. Bissoo built the shack after they left a relatives’ home following a disagreement sometime ago.
Bissoo also earns an income cutting grass, but since COVID-19, work has been far and in between.
Baldeo was employed as a domestic worker, but since the stroke, she has difficulty walking and speaking.
Burying her head in her hands, Baldeo cried as she tried to speak, but her words were inaudible.
Bissoo said, “It does be hard sometimes. I just have to provide whatever (I could). I grow what we eat. Sometimes if I get ah lil money I buy a piece of meat.”
To compound matters, Bissoo also has to constantly be on alert for thieves who raid his garden, stealing cassava, body and ochro, which he depends heavily on to feed his family.
“I constantly have to be here, looking out. Them fellas does thief three, four bags of cassava and thing.”
Their children attend a private school in Marabella for $600 a term.
A teacher used to transport them to and from school. Baldeo also has a 24-year-old son, but he does not live with them.
His girlfriend would sometimes stay at the house to assist her.
At Baldeo’s last clinic appointment at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital on April 2, she did not see a doctor because there was no clinic due to COVID-19.
However, she was not given a date to return and her husband has no money to buy medication or pay for a doctor’s visit.
They do not receive any social grants. Barrackpore West councillor Nicholas Kanhai is aware of their situation and is trying to assist them. Anyone willing to assist the family can contact them at 335-9077.