Derrick and Coleen Henry with their children.

Loyse Vincent

A self-employed father of eight is appealing to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Education for help.

He said his “plate is heavy” as he is worried about his children’s education because he does not have a smartphone, laptop, or internet access.

Derrick Henry said the COVID-19 pandemic has put his family under a lot of pressure as he and his wife Coleen are unable to work.

“Seven of our children are still in school and while we try to make sure they do something every day even it means reading, the Education Minister says things will be taught online that requires internet access and a computer or laptop.”

Two of the seven children are in secondary school while the others still attend primary school.

He said a home computer and internet access are no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

With no means of earning a living, the family is now dependent on the Government’s Salary Relief Grant. He said he attempted to collect a form at the Scarborough Police Station earlier this week to apply for the grant.

“The police were very aggressive and not very customer friendly. It’s a tough time people have a lot to deal with, you go to ask for a simple form they didn’t have any and they treating you like you’re bothering them.”

Henry said social distancing is the order of the day so he can’t go and look for jobs and his wife was employed at a daycare (centre) and that is now shut down so they are in a very difficult spot.

The government food cardholder said even before the pandemic, his family found it difficult to make ends meet.

“Food in Tobago costs much more than in Trinidad and with eight mouths to feed it is an uphill task. The government promised additional help but nobody takes into consideration that the cost of living is so much more here.”

Henry said he is concerned about life beyond the pandemic as he anticipates that it will become even harder to earn a living. He said he has always taught his children the value of a good education and doing well in school.

He is asking for some assistance to ensure that his and other less fortunate children are not left behind.