Imagine living in a country where you never know when you wake up, whether or not you will have running water to have a shower, to wash your hands, to flush the toilet or to wash up the dirty dishes left in the sink from last night.
Imagine living in a country where Police Officer’s think it is okay to flagrantly misuse their authority by manipulating people to drink puncheon rum at gunpoint.
Imagine living in a country where there aren’t computers and you are required to issue manual hand-written receipts for every purchase completed, whether it be a MoneyGram transfer, a utility bill payment, the purchase of regular stocked items or pharmaceutical prescriptions.
Imagine living in a country where you are so severely injured because you were attacked by someone with a cutlass; almost severing your arm and hand completely off, but the criminal responsible for this heinous crime walks freely amongst international tourists on one of the most popular beaches in Tobago.
Imagine living in a country where you do not receive a pay stub outlining the hours you worked, your rate of pay, the taxes you paid, or the amount you’ve paid into your pension.
Imagine living in a country where there is not a Rental Board where you can report or resolve any Landlord and Tenant issues.
Imagine living in a country where you need to thoroughly inspect your shower before you jump in during rainy season because that is where scorpions like to hide.
Imagine living in a country where you accidentally get bitten by a scorpion and when you arrive at the hospital, they inform you that there is no anti-venom to treat your wound.
Imagine living in a country where the cost of the medicine you require to treat your illness is equal to the full pension you receive and live off each month.
Imagine living in a country where the Government has promised food cards and rental grants and employment assistance while the country is shut down because of COVID-19 and it has been six months and you are still waiting for help.
Imagine living in a country where you are told that the medicine you are required to take is only for the ‘privileged’ and there is not any available to help you.
Imagine living in a country where your Mom must have major surgery and your employer does not allow you time to provide post-surgery after-care for her.
Imagine living in a country where it takes you three hours to travel by taxi to have your chemo treatment and when you arrive, there’s another three hour wait just to be seen by the Doctor who says, “I’m sorry, we don’t have the medication in stock to complete your treatment, so you can go back home”.
Imagine living in a country where your employer does not allow you a break to use the washroom, to eat lunch, sick time, vacation time or even maternity leave.
Imagine living in a country as the single parent of a seven-year-old boy during COVID-19 times, unable to return to work, unable to provide food or the bare necessities of life for your child because the food cards have been shamelessly handed out to current Government supporters because there is an Election this year.
Imagine living in a country where it is mandatory that you work sixty hours a week and your employer does not even pay you the country’s stipulated minimum wage.
Imagine living in a country where you are arrested and charged for trying to feed your family by fishing during COVID-19 times because you are hungry, even though it is illegal.
Imagine living in a country where you are homeless and wheelchair bound and the only source of water you have to drink is the water from a pothole in the streets of Port of Spain.
Imagine living in a country where you are required to work seven days a week without a day off.
Imagine living in a country where the Licensing Office that processes the Government Grants during COVID-19 cannot print or process Applications because they do not have a printer in the office that works.
Imagine living in a country where you are required to submit a Certificate of Good Character so you can get a job, but people have been waiting for more than six months for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to respond and provide the documents.
Imagine living in a country where your employer is required to deduct a specific % from your wage to go towards your pension and six years later you discover he has not made all the necessary deductions.
Imagine living in a country where most of the men who are locked up, are there because they were found with a little piece of weed, but paedophiles who have on multiple occasions sexually assaulted innocent children are out on bail.
This is the reality for the people that live in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is a constant struggle to make ends meet. Everyone has their own way of surviving.
My job is to observe, to listen to their stories and share them so others can be enlightened.
Life is not always as it seems.