Single mother of 7 worries about providing for family due to COVID-19

By Andrew Carmichael

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has, without a doubt, put a pause on every aspect of the world. It has caused industries to shut down, development to come to a standstill, countries to close their borders, and massive job loss among other consequences.
COVID-19’s impact is tremendous and every day we hear of the struggles of the most vulnerable. We hear from those barely managing to make ends meet and those who absolutely cannot make ends meet.
One such person battling to ensure food is on the table is 25-year-old Madhuri Devie Orilall. Orilall is a single mother of seven and constantly worries about where the next meal is going to come from.
The young mother lost her husband just about one year ago after he took his own life. She was three months pregnant at that time and already had six children. Also, she was living with her mother-in-law, but less than two weeks after her husband’s death, tragedy would strike again.
A mere 10 days after Orilall lost her husband, her mother-in-law demanded that she and her children leave the house. It took two days before the young mother could have found somewhere to take her children.
During the 12th day prayers for her late husband, Orilall took her children, packed her bags and moved from her marital home in Port Mourant, East Berbice-Corentyne to a squatting settlement at Nigg – another village in the Corentyne area.
“When I went to Nigg to live with the children, it was in a small zinc house. The four sides and the roof was all zinc and it used to leak when the rain falls,” she recalled.
Back then, perhaps, one of the most difficult things for her was the fact that she was unemployed and had no source of income. She was dependent on the community to assist her and her young children, with her number one priority at that time being food for her children.
“I was there for like three months and then I get a house at Port Mourant and I used to stay in the house and then the people say that they want the house, so I had to get a Food For The Poor house, because I didn’t want my pickney [children] go nowhere and leff me and I know if I get a Food For The Poor house, nobody can’t put me out from there,” she said.
She started the process of applying for a house from the Food For The Poor organisation. She had met with a Welfare Officer after her husband’s death and she linked her to the St Francis Community Developers (SFCD) which was involved in vetting persons seeking assistance from Food For The Poor. A while later, she would receive a positive response from the organisation, and her house was subsequently constructed.
The house was officially handed over just over a week ago, and Orilall and her 10-, nine-, seven-, six-, five-, and four-year-old along with her eight-month-old baby have taken residence.
However, apart from owning her own home now, life has still been unfair to the single mother and the COVID-19 pandemic is further compounding her struggles. The young mother would work as a domestic for a number of persons in the village, but owing to COVID-19 and the physical distancing guidelines they are not calling her for work.
“But you still got to try. I have my seven children to look after. I do any housework: wash wares, clean, wash clothes and do everything. I don’t get work every day now; due to the virus, people not calling me to do work,” she said.
Meanwhile, Orilall is delighted with her new home, but she is a far way from where she wants to be.
“I am happy to have a house of my own, so my children could be under a roof,” she said.