Crops planted by Dennisa Hosein at her friend's home where she lives.

Dennisa Hosein, 36, a single mother from Freeport has three children to feed–a 16-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old son, and a three-year-old toddler daughter.

She had lost her job as a night nurse at a geriatric home in South about one month before the beginning of the pandemic in T&T in March 2020.

Hosein’s predicament is that she needs to find employment but she cannot find anyone to take care of her children. COVID-19 has only made things worse.

She and her family subsist on a few modest crops she planted in a friend’s yard where she is staying. While she has planted baigan, a peas tree, fever grass, ochro, bodi, and cauliflower, there is no space to plant more crop and she has no money to spend.

Hosein and her children rely on the generosity of friends, neighbours, good samaritans and organisations such as the Yard Market organised by the Maharaj family in Chase Village to fend off starvation. The irregular donation of hampers offers a lifeline.

Speaking to Sunday Guardian on Friday Hosein said “The neighbour’s bhagi patch reminds me of when I was pregnant with my last child, I used to eat that three times a day as there was nothing else to eat.

“It real hard. I’m living by my friend’s house, I can’t afford rent, sometimes neighbours help, but things are getting tight all around.

“I make a contribution to the light bill and Wifi when I’m able, but I don’t have any money now. I have to make the attempt.

“When my cooking gas finished, the neighbour loaned me her tank, she will need her tank when hers is done and I have to repay her.”

She said she does not even have enough money to travel to some areas where there are hamper distributions, but it could be a blessing in disguise as she can avoid the COVID-19 spread. She often WhatsApps her friends to network if they can secure a hamper for her and her children.

Hosein said she received a hamper last week consisting of rice, flour, oil, salt, baking powder, a tin of tuna and sardines, lentils, red beans, onion garlic, potatoes, curry, toothpaste, toilet paper and one block of soap which “help her keep going a little” and making do for her children to eat.

She explained she received public assitance for her children from the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services at one time, but it was stopped.

Hosein said she was encountering runaround as to where she should apply for a food card since her identification card had her registered as living in Princes Town but she was staying somewhere else.

According to Hosein, her son and daughter share a phone to do their online classes, but they need a dedicated device like a tablet.

Hosein said she has her deceased parents’ modest house in Williamsville, but she has no money to purchase material to repair it and she cannot impose on her friend’s goodwill forever.

Minister responds

Sunday Guardian contacted The Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox on Thursday about Hosein’s case and two food cards were made available to the family that same evening.

Cox said on Friday “Since Ms Hosein hadn’t gotten public assistance, an officer went and delivered to her home two food cards valued at $500 so she can buy groceries.

“We assisted the family. The reason her assistance was stopped was they could not find her. We have four to five addresses for her in our system; she has been moving around. When our field officers go to look for her, they couldn’t find her.

“We advised her to reapply for public assistance at the nearest Social Development and Family Services office and social welfare officers are on the case.

“We’re hoping she would reapply as soon as possible.”

Anyone who would like to assist the family can call Hosein at