For almost eight years, the Teeluckharry family has been existing quietly in their humble home in a forested area in Siparia without electricity or running water.
The closest house to them is about a mile away at Santo Trace, Mendez Village.
The family of six depends on water from their pond to grow their food, do household chores, and even drink, cook, and bathe, at times.
Living in the plywood home nestled between the Morne Diablo and Siparia forests are Teeluckdharry Seemungal, 53, his wife, Neenalie, 43, their children Amanda, 21, Navendra, 23, and another daughter, 15, as well as his three-year-old grandson.
Seemungal, the sole breadwinner of the family, works part-time as a construction worker at the Penal Debe Regional Corporation.
They essentially survive on the crops that they grow in their garden which include saime, baigan, spinach, bodi and ochro.
Due to the harsh dry season, however, their food supply is being threatened as the pond water is running low.
Speaking at their home, Seemungal said, “The pond water very low right now. I can’t do any gardening because I need to save the water for household chores like to wash wares and bathe sometimes, or to even cook with the water. It is a very bad situation with me here at this point of time.”
The only access to the family’s house is through a dirt road located about a mile and a quarter from Sancho Road. Getting to and from their home is difficult at times as Seemungal’s car doesn’t always work, resulting in them having to walk.
Seemungal said for several years he has been asking the local government representative to lobby for him to get a proper road, especially since his youngest child has to walk to the main road to get transport to school.
His other daughter would also have to make the trek with her son in her arms to get to and from his school.
“I have a vehicle there sometimes it working, sometimes it not working. Sometimes the rain falls, sometimes the road gets so muddy that the vehicle can’t go out the road. I ask the councillor on many occasions to repair the road, there is a washer way with the cylinders down there. This rainy season I might not able to pass.”
He said water was another problem.
“Water supply here is a very, very hard thing. Sometimes we use the pond water and boil it and sterilise it and then drink it. The water very shallow now.” Seemungal said most times they cannot use their generator because he cannot afford to buy gas.
“My daughter has to do her homework on the phone and the phone not good. The light supply is very dull sometimes.”
The teenager sometimes depends on light from flambeaux and torchlight to do her studies.
“I am not asking for much. Just a lil road access, a lil water electricity.” He said they ended up settling in the forested area because he had to leave the land he was renting.
While living under those conditions is tough, she said they try to be contended with what little they have.
“Sometimes it is tough but you have to make do with what you have and try to be contented. And you just have to make things work cause that’s what my father always teach we to do.”
However, she said a proper road and clean water “will be nice.”
Edward Moodie of the South Oropouche Ravine Flood Action Group said they are trying to install a water treatment system and/or arrange for a regular portable water supply for the family.
He was also concerned that Seemungal’s daughter cannot access the Education Ministry’s online learning platforms.
Anyone willing to assist the family can contact them at 286-8729.