…teen daughter drops out of school to care for family
While many persons are in the midst of their Christmas plans and shopping, a Corentyne, family of East Berbice are in dire need of assistance, and are contemplating the next move for their survival.
The family of four currently survive on the father’s $19,500 old age pension, while his 17-year-old daughter has been forced to drop out to care for the family’s daily needs, which includes caring for her two younger brothers, aged nine and 11.
More significant in the plight is that 67-year-old Egbert Kendall is mostly confined to his bed, or rather thin sheet of smelly sponge, which has been placed on the floor of the 16-foot by 15-foot building.
Egbert Kendall had been the family’s sole bread winner for past seven years after his wife walked out of their marriage of more than a decade. He however fell ill three years later.
“I get heart problem; ah get enlarged heart and ah got pressure [hypertension]. Certain times the pressure does mount up to 200, and I end up six days in Skeldon Hospital and six days in New Amsterdam Hospital taking treatment,” Kendall said as he sat on the thin sponge which he uses as a bed. The poorly painted, wooden upper flat structure has little necessities for living.
When Guyana Times visited the family on Friday, concerned neighbours expressed worry over two boys, saying that after a very long time, they are now attending school.
This publication was told of the family’s situation by an overseas-based non-governmental organisation which has an office at Port Mourant, Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).
According to one neighbor, it was after a visit by officers of the Education Department in the region that the boys started attending school regularly.
In an almost broken tone, the pensioner cried that while he knows the importance of school, he cannot afford to buy basic school supplies. The man was especially concerned about his 11-year-old son, who is supposed to be preparing to sit the National Grade Six Assessment in 2019.
“He writing common entrance [National Grade Six Assessment] next year, so he need to go to school,” the man declared.
He said the boy has been attending school regularly, but did not go last week, as children were preparing for Christmas parties but his sons cannot attend because he cannot afford to by clothing and goodies for them to take to the party. The 11-year-old showed this publication his school clothing, which is worn. Kendall said both boys are in need of school items, especially books.
The feeble man explained that prior to his illness, he had tried gardening in his Number 64 Village yard, and was able to make a living, while his pension went to his children.
Because of his ill health, his 17-year-old daughter is now burdened with managing the household on his pension.
“They have to cook, I don’t want them to starve. It is very very hard, because the lil pension that I collect got to go to ration for the home. I have to buy clothes for them. When I do end up, I don’t have no money to buy anything,” he said.
The man’s home was observed to have several large gaps on every side of the wall, which the children blocked with pieces of paper. The kitchen, conversely, seemed to be well kept, but it is no more than four walls forming a lower flat with a door, and there are only few utensils, all lying on the counter.
His 17-year-old daughter has been described as an excellent cook, and was given a thumbs-up by her father. The meal which was served when this publication visited seemed to be well prepared. While the family has no gas stove, the meal was prepared on two bricks which formed a fire-side under the house.