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Nicholas Howell, his wife Indira Partap and their children stand in front of their humble home in South Oropouche.

Having fallen on hard times due to sickness and the COVID-19 pandemic, a South Oropouche couple is now struggling to provide for their four children.

Their home is also in need of repairs but they have no money.

About two years ago, Nicholas Howell fell ill with pneumonia, a lung infection, adding to his congestive heart failure and kidney problems. Doctors diagnosed him with 80 per cent disability.

However, he still worked people’s vehicles as PH taxis to make ends meet. However, due to the pandemic, he is no longer working.

His wife Indira Partap was working as a domestic worker, but when the pandemic hit she too ended up on the breadline.

Needless to say, they have been struggling to provide for their four children, aged 12, 11, nine and four and upkeep their home.

The small two-bedroom plywood house at Marvin Crescent, Pond Road, Aripero, is only furnished with two mattresses, a fridge and stove, which are not working properly, and a television.

In an interview with Guardian Media at their home yesterday, Partap said the house belonged to her mother.

“It have only two rooms and it so small that they cannot even walk properly inside the rooms. We cannot make them sleep on the ground just so with the mattress, because centipede and thing does walk up inside the house. So we end up using Carib case and wood for the bed for them.”

She said the roof has several holes.

“A good while now the roof leaking real bad and we will like to get help. All the clothes and thing wetting up inside the room whenever rain falling.”

She complained that their outdoor galvanised bathroom is also falling apart.

“The bathroom and the latrine that we have, it not presentable for them because where we have to walk, it does be real mud to go down by the latrine and the bathroom. When you bathing and the breeze blowing, the bathroom shaking with the galvanise.”

Since he fell ill, Howell has been in and out of the hospital. He suffers from wheezing, shortness of breath and kidney problems.

Despite the health challenges, Howell said he was still working, but for about two months his employers have not gotten work.

The family depends on food hampers and people’s generosity to get by on many days.

“Sometimes, we ask around for help, hampers and people help with lil grocery stuff and things like that. So it is survival out here.”

Howell said his three applications to social Services for the disability grant were rejected.

“They hear I working taxi on the road but remember sometimes I have to go out there to seek help to provide for my family,” he said.

Three of the children attend primary school and the last child just graduated from preschool.

They are trying to get him enrolled into the same school as his siblings. Anyone willing to assist the family can contact 328-1857 or 381-9623.