Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Life interrupted:One man's struggle to feed his family during COVID-19



“I just frighten, not for myself really but for my children and my wife. I real frighten.”

Ahmad, a Grenadian craftsman on his attempts to cope with the stress associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Every morning when I wake up I check the cupboards and I heft the gas tank. I know how heavy the gas tank is and I know what we have in the cupboard and what we don’t have. I keep checking because… I don’t really know. Maybe I just hoping for a miracle or something.”

With the tourism sector unceremoniously shutdown, Ahmad is one of many people in Grenada and across the region, who have lost their only source of income. 

He said more than anything, he’s finding it difficult to deal with the uncertainty.

“I don’t know how long this will last and I don’t know what will happen when it ends. If it ends. I don't know what will happen from now until then. The only thing I know for sure is the food that’s in the cupboard now, is all the food we have. No cruise ship coming here, nobody travelling to Grenada so that mean nobody buying what I selling.”

Ahmad said it pains him to think that his children could soon be without food and other basic necessities.

He told Loop: “Is like my whole manhood just strip away. You know what it is like to watch your children hungry and not be able to feed them? That’s the only thing on my mind, feeding my children. Some days I skip meals so the children could have more if they want. We not starving exactly, but we have to draw a plan to make sure the food last because we have no extra and we don’t know the situation with this COVID-19 thing.  Tourism is my bread and butter, is how I feed my children so with that gone and this lockdown thing I can’t even look for a day work. Most days I just go in the bush from the time the sun start to come up and stay until night time. Sometimes that’s easier than facing them.”

Ahmad said he loves his family and before the onset of the pandemic he worked night and day to ensure that their needs were met.

“When I wasn’t selling I used to do yard work at a hotel, but all that stop until I don’t know when. I don’t want to kill myself or nothing but I think sometimes it would be easier for them without me. It doesn’t always sound right in my own head, but it’s just so many thoughts.  As a man I’m supposed to be providing for my family, I can’t do that now so what am I supposed to do? Even with the craziness of this virus some people will watch me and assume that I am lazy but that is not true I am not lazy. I stop school when I was ten years. My father was married but not to my mother and when I was young he just stop coming so as the first child, the only boy child I had to stop school to help with my sisters. It was four of us, one boy and three girls. Miss, I say all that to say that I am not afraid of hard work. I working long time. I did what I had to do to help my mother mind my sisters and before corona I was doing what I had to do to support my wife and daughters.”

The father of two said not only has COVID-19 stripped him of his job and his peace of mind, but it has also jeopardised his children’s future.

He said there are people who have offered help, but he claims it often comes with conditions.

“People offering help here and there but plenty of them giving with one hand and stretching the next hand with a camera to take pictures. How it will look, big strong man like me posing for a picture to get a bag of peas and rice? My wife always saying pride before a fall, but is the principle man. I can’t do my children that, I can’t open them up to that ridicule. We not rich, but I teach my children that nobody better than them. You know the story of Jacob and Esau? I can’t exchange my soul and my children dignity for some food man, the price too high.”

Ahmad told Loop as tough as things are for him and his family, he has neighbours who are having a much harder time.

 “Imagine that, I don't know how my children eating probably a week from now, but there are people who don't know how they will eat today. Everywhere you turn people suffering. Everyday my wife struggling to stretch the little we have, my children pretending they full when I know they want more. You just can’t know what things like this could do to a man. Children shouldn’t have to study where food coming from. It’s my job as their father, I’m supposed to provide but right now I can’t even do that. This not natural at all.”

Ahmad said the current situation has changed his outlook on life and forced him to take note of all the things he once took for granted.



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