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Despite facing poverty mother wants children to succeed
Linda Ramnanansingh, 35, is determined that her children will finish school and get good jobs to help the family escape from the grinding poverty they now endure. Every day is a struggle to survive for Linda, her husband Lalchan Manolal, 41, and their children, Andy, 19; Ashton, 17; Annisa, 16, and Alana, 15, who share a tiny dilapidated shack at Macaulay Road, Claxton Bay.
Lalchan, a Cepep labourer and the main breadwinner, struggles to supplement his meagre wages by doing odd jobs in his community. Eldest son, Andy, injured his back in an accident and is only able to work two days a week doing odd jobs.
The couple’s other children attend a secondary school in the area.
Their shack can only be accessed by crossing a narrow bridge made from rotten boards salvaged from a nearby wooden house that was demolished. The family lost several items when the shack was flooded out two years ago. There is no electricity, no internal plumbing and the family gets water from a tap provided by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) off its main supply line which is located at the back of their home.
Linda said she desperately wants her children to get their CXC passes so they can move up in life but even that seems difficult to achieve. The children try to do most of their studies by sunset and after that must use a kerosene lamp or a flambeau. Linda is worried that the lack of lights may put her children at a disadvantage when exams come around.
The family was issued a food card but that stopped working in July. Linda reported the malfunctioning card to the Ministry of the People and Social Development and officials promised to look into the matter but there has been no word from them since.
Yesterday, the family’s Sunday meal consisted of dhal and rice prepared in the single, tiny room that serves as kitchen, bedroom and living room. It leaks whenever it rains. The family’s clothes are stored in cardboard boxes in a corner of the room that does not leak. The children’s schoolbags hang on the wall on nails.
Anju Mathura, 38, a concerned neighbour who contacted the T&T Guardian about the family’s plight, said while the community tries to assist the family, there isn’t much they can do. “There are a lot of poor people but they do not have the resources or know how to get information. We in the community contacted the Guardian since newspaper people are knowledgeable. Sometimes we find that elected officials scarce and difficult to get help from,” he said.
When contacted, Surujdeo Mangaroo, chairman of the National Commission for Self Help, said he was saddened when he heard of the plight of the family. Mangaroo plans to visit the family this week and said once they qualify, grants will be given to help them improve their living conditions.
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