The spread of COVID-19 has brought to light the daily suffering of many families, who are putting shame aside and making their poverty known crying out for assistance that they have needed for a much longer time.
One such family is the Gopauls of Matura, who at times have only one meal per day and often go to sleep without dinner.
Jenelle Gopaul, mother of three children – Andrew, 10, Micah, 8, and baby girl Sidon, 6 – told Guardian Media that maintaining a healthy lifestyle has come to nought.
With tears in her eyes, she said her husband is unable to work as he is visually blind, a diabetic and has to attend clinic for three days per weeks for dialysis treatment.
Gopaul mentioned that her husband receives a $2,000 grant, but this said that was insufficient to maintain her family, as most of the money is spent on medicine and travelling to clinic.
She said there is nothing left for groceries or paying for travelling for her three children to get to the Matura Government Primary School.
“My children have to walk to and from school in the hot sun or brave the rain. If they are lucky they might get a lift from some good Samaritan,” she said.
Gopaul said she is at home presently because of COVID-19 and the Stay-at-Home measures but has no money and food and is surviving by the grace of God.
Her husband Nicholas Baptiste is unemployed, visually-impaired, is a diabetic and suffers from kidney failure.
“It is like hell at this time for me,” she emphasised.
What hurts she added is that the government has put so many social assistance in place for families like her, but it seems that these benefits are politically-inclined and are not for the needy and poor people.
She said she has made attempts to obtain a food card and hampers from the Member of Parliament’s office but have so far been unsuccessful.
She added that they have no beds and share a mattress which is placed on the ground to sleep. Her children have to study under candlelight or pitchoil lamps, “It is very hard for us.”
Gopaul said some people have pledged to build a washroom so that her ailing husband can have some relief from going to an outhouse.
Local Government counsellor Terry Rondon has promised to offer support to the family.