President of SMATT, Shermaine Wickham-Howe

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It’s not unusual for Shermaine Wickham-Howe to leave her Kelly Village home to drive the length and breadth of the country, bringing relief to single mothers in need.

Whether, delivering food, medication, personal care items, clothing, or even furniture and appliances, the president and founder of the Single Mothers Association of T&T, (SMATT), has made it her duty to answer that call whenever it comes.

Sometimes answering that call could mean visiting the home of a single mother wee hours of the morning to ensure a baby has milk and pampers.

Even as Wickham-Howe allowed Guardian Media’s cameras to accompany her on one of her daily runs, she stopped by a businessman with whom she has been trying to negotiate 30 apartments for single mothers who are having difficulty maintaining roofs over their heads.

The problems experienced from one single mother to another, she noted, varied, and with the pandemic, some of those problems were compounded.

“Some of the challenges and needs that we have encountered are, rental issues, lack of food, and if the mothers are COVID positive or even in quarantine, they don’t have many persons to really support them and get them items and stuff, so we have been trying to make packages and drop them off at their homes to support at a time like this,” Wickham-Howe disclosed.

In addition, she said education in many of these single mother households had been forced to take a back seat.

“One of their challenges is, children not having devices to be online for their classes,” she lamented.

Describing the situation as heart-rending in most cases, Wickham-Howe said the current economic and social climate in the country, brought on by the pandemic, had taken a severe toll on women in general, but for single mothers who already had to play the roles of both parents, the weight of the world was now on their shoulders.

As a result, she said, most did not only require material provision but also emotional and mental support, which her organisation was also prepared to render.

“Even moral support from within our membership forums and reminding each other that we are not alone during this pandemic season,” she expressed.

The single mother of two does not deny, it’s a tough job trying to meet every need as many single mothers required assistance, too many to count, but knowing all too well the challenges faced by women in her shoes, Wickham-Howe said, tough job or not, someone had to do it, because in life it was about that human service to others, a lesson instilled in her from a young age.

“When I was younger, I saw my grandmother show a lot of care and support to people while I was a child. And now that I have grown, I have learned that life is not about us, it’s about others. When we realise that the life that we are living is not about us and it’s to serve others, that’s when we are truly representing Christ and that’s why I do what I do.”