Sanitation worker

Making a living

Sanitation worker by day and security guard by night, Donna Lewis says she does what has to be done because she has “obligations” to fulfil.

Forty-six years old, Lewis has been a sanitation worker with the Mayor and City Council for 19 years and for about a year and six months, she has also been a security guard so that she could continue to take care of her family when payments from City Hall are late.

Donna Lewis after cleaning one half of the drain on Alexander Street and North Road on Thursday morning

Every morning at 7am Lewis with another worker cleans the drains along North Road from Shiv Chanderpaul Drive to Wellington Street. Lewis says that before knocking off at 1pm for the day she and her co-worker have to retrace their steps to clean the drains once more, because they would once again be filled with litter especially around the Bourda Market area. She admits that it can be frustrating at times, “when you clean the trench next morning, when you go back it get stuff.”
This Lewis says sometimes makes her feel bad, “The people they have to take responsibility and everything they just blaming the city council.”

Although Lewis says she became a sanitation worker so that she could earn an honest dollar and provide for her children, “I enjoying the city council work.” But she notes that “it get rough sometimes…”

“At first when you join the work was nice. You used to get your garments and salary right,” she remembers. Now, “Sometimes you don’t got the proper protective garments or tools.” And payment is a constant problem these days.

Lewis is hopeful however that conditions at City Hall will improve: “It could get better” but “the whole council need changing.”

With three children and one grandchild still in school and a husband who was recently laid off, Lewis took on another job, that of security guard. She explained that the children’s father got laid off from GPL and he became a security guard but the pay was not much.

A night guard with Instant Security Service, Lewis says she works strictly on the night shift. Work begins at six and ends at six the next morning. “The reason why I do it is because City Council payment system is bad. I have children and a grandchild to mind; waiting so long does throw me off.”

Lewis says that the security guard job pays fortnightly and the money “helps me out.” So how does she juggle the two jobs and her family? “When I knock off from City Hall I come home and cook for the children, wash and clean up the house,” Lewis says.

As for sleep, “I catch a lil pinch,” while on the security. She says that the security job is not a bad one; once she even caught a thief who was later sentenced to two years.
In between jobs meanwhile, Lewis spends her spare time reading her Q’uran and praying: “I beg Allah to protect me and the children.” Every other Saturday, Lewis says she goes to women’s classes at the mosque in Alexander village. Her children also go to the mosque in the afternoons to learn Arabic.

A devoted mother Lewis says, “I don’t shame of no job I doing. I am proud because I got to earn a dollar to mine my children.”

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