By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A Grand Bahama mother who is now unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown says things are very tough, but her faith in God is keeping her "head above water."
Two months before the crisis, the single mother was employed at Freeport Harbour and getting her life back to some normalcy after Hurricane Dorian.
She was displaced from her home which was flooded, and lost her previous job after a small business she had managed for many years was destroyed during the storm. "I had not worked since Dorian, but I got a job at the harbour two months ago and was trying to get settled into that," the mother, who asked not to be named, said.
Then came the coronavirus crisis which brought the cruise industry to a halt. With the cruise facility closed, the mother found herself again out of work and having to support her seven-year-old son and a godson who is also now living with her. "This really put a damper in my spirit, but I have faith that things will get better, and I thank God because it is my faith that is keeping my head above water," she said.
The mother said things are very difficult, and she has turned to the government for help through the national assistance programmes put in place.
She has applied and been approved for food assistance and is still awaiting approval for a National Insurance Board unemployment benefit, and monthly rental assistance.
"I got a voucher for groceries, but was told that my NIB benefit was not ready because my employer had failed to explain the reason for my termination, so they are waiting on that," she explained. "It is hard, but I am dealing with it and know God will make a way."
In the meanwhile, the mother said the shutdown of schools is another area of concern. While homeschooling is going well, she said that her son misses school and interacting with classmates. "Structure is very important and I keep a regular routine; we get up early in the morning and do the things we would normally do on a regular school week," she said.
She plans to enroll her son in the Ministry of Education's online education programme, but needs a computer. "The computer I had gotten for him was destroyed in the storm, and so I am in the process of trying to get another one for him," she said.
She said the national lockdowns and curfew have been very taxing emotionally.
She said being indoors has taken a toll on her because she likes to work, visit with family and friends, keep active, and go to church. "I try to do little things here and there to keep busy," she said. "As a Christian, I am dealing with that by going on social media to connect with family and friends and to hear the word of God, and my pastor preaches live on Facebook every week," she said.
On the bright side, she said that the COVID-19 crisis has also allowed her to spend more time with her son. "We play games, read a lot, and watch movies together," she said.
She is encouraging people who are also going through a difficult time to pray and be strong.
"I am hurting, but we also have to be an encouragement to others. That's what motivates me to keep pushing. The little I have I try to share with other people. God has kept me, and so there is no need to cry because I know where my help comes," she said.