Saturday 30 May, 2020

Low-income families get help amid COVID-19 restrictions

From left: Jamilia Ledgister, a resident of Tower Isle in Waterhouse and a mother of three, explains to Andrea Lewis Campbell, an instructor at  Christian’s Early Childhood Academy, some of the impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on her household.

From left: Jamilia Ledgister, a resident of Tower Isle in Waterhouse and a mother of three, explains to Andrea Lewis Campbell, an instructor at Christian’s Early Childhood Academy, some of the impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on her household.

Since the government’s move to implement measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many families which depended on nutrition support provided through the school community have been left out in the cold.

While some have managed to make do, for others, the sudden change has placed a significant strain on home life, threatening the success of students currently trying to learn and study remotely.

For breadwinners like Jamila Ledgister, a resident of Tower Isle in Waterhouse, St. Andrew and mother of three, the threat of COVID-19 has impacted her ability to take care of her family.

“I am a self-employed single parent,” said Ledgister. “Before the COVID-19 situation, I was doing nails and hustling to sell clothes when I could. How things are now, I can’t go to anyone’s house to do their nails because I don’t want to risk taking back the virus to my kids. Since a lot of people aren’t earning like they used to, I also haven’t been able to hustle as much selling clothes so it’s really been rough on us,” she said.

Nutrition is a primary concern for Ledgister, parent of two of the 106 students enrolled in the Christian’s Early Childhood Academy. While at school, her children would be guaranteed at least one balanced meal each day. However, with schools closed and no income, making ends meet has become an increasing struggle. Several other families within the school community find themselves in a similar situation.

From left: Stephannie Coy, Project Manager at the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation, listens keenly to Jamilia Ledgister, a resident of Tower Isle in Waterhouse and a mother of three, as she explains how school closure and other COVID-19 containment efforts have affected her ability to provide for her family.

School principal Shericia Christian noted, “Our school doesn’t have a formal feeding programme, but we’ve always made it a priority to provide each child access to breakfast and a decent lunch regardless of whether or not their parents have paid for it. This is because we know the situation in a lot of these households and sometimes, what they get at school is the only opportunity some of these children have of getting a balanced meal. Unfortunately, I know for a fact, that having been out of school some of these children are now at risk of reduced nutrition.”

Recognizing this urgent need, the Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) Foundation has offered support to the families of students enrolled at Christian’s Early Childhood Academy and the Callaloo Mews Basic School.

Using the grocery delivery service of Sampar's, the foundation provided more than 100 grocery packages to support the nutritional needs of the students.

“The donation we received from the foundation has gone a long way. It improved the children’s mood because you know it can be hard to learn when you’re hungry. Just knowing that there’s food in the house has helped us out a great deal, so my sincerest gratitude,” said Ledgister.

Stephanie Coy, project manager at the D&G Foundation said the current situation makes it even more critical for organizations to help. “School closures have left these young ones without a structured academic routine and support. On top of that, it becomes all too easy for them to be distracted by the strain the crisis has placed on their households, making it hard for them to regain momentum,” said Coy.

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