Interviews and photos
by Shabna Ullah

As school reopens for the first day today after a two-month break many children would be turning out in their new gear while some parents were not sure whether their children would be able to start out immediately. Stabroek News spoke to parents about their shopping and got these responses:

 Rory Davis, truck driver
`I had to do the shopping for my 16-year-old daughter. She is attending Belladrum Secondary School. She went with me to shop and I ensured that I got everything she needed. I don’t like the last minute rush so I shopped early. I didn’t find the items too expensive. To me the prices were not much different from last year.’

Collis Peters, housewife
`I am a single mother of six and five of my children are school-aged. Their father, a minibus driver, assisted me. I bought some of the school items for them and I am waiting on the money to buy more. It would be difficult for me to send them from Monday. The vouchers from the school helped a lot but apparently someone stole two of them. It is not fair that someone else stole my vouchers and shopped with them. We have to take our ID cards to collect the vouchers and I think when we go to shop we should also produce it. This would help to avoid stealing.’

Margaret Daniels, self-employed,
`I am a single mother of three children but only the two older ones, an eight-year-old and a five-year-old are going to school. I think the shopping this year was tight. Everything was very expensive. To me the prices raised from last year. Thank God I was able to get everything new for my children though. They are very excited to turn out to school. Their father provided me with some of the money. The voucher from the government also helped me to get some of the smaller items.’

 Odetta Daniels, housewife,
`I had to shop for my two children; ages nine and 13 and I finished everything in time. Their father is working with a drilling company so he gave me the money early to start shopping. They are very excited to go back to school; they can’t wait. I don’t like the last minute shopping because I had to take the uniforms to the seamstress early to sew. I found that some items were very expensive and I also noticed that some of the stores that accepted the vouchers add on $100 more for the uniform materials.’

Abeena Peters, unemployed,
`I am taking care of my 12-year-old brother and I do not have enough money to shop for him. I still have to get pants, books and other items. Our mother who is overseas used to support him but right now she is not working. Things are real hard and I don’t think he can start out from this week unless I get some help for him. He is going to a private school because he got a scholarship.’

 Seigefred Wilson, D & I worker,
`I work for a small salary and my wife runs a small mauby and cake shop. Our money is barely enough to run the home, pay bills and send our seven children to school. It is a real struggle around this time to find school items. Two of my children are going to a private school, three at secondary and two at primary schools. So far I only finished shopping for two of them and I would continue how I get the money. I can’t make it to send three of them from Monday (today). Tuesday I am expected to get paid and I would purchase the rest of the items but that would still not be enough. I did not get vouchers for my three children from the secondary school. When I went to the school the teachers said I could not get the vouchers because I did not attend the meeting. I only got vouchers for the two attending primary school and that helped a lot.’

Rajpattie Kurhair, housewife
`My husband is a labourer in the Abary Creek and we are staying in there with our three children. Only the older girl is attending school; she is at second year nursery. My husband does not get regular work and it is very hard to maintain the home and the children. I got some help from an organization to complete the shopping for her school items and I am very thankful for that. Government has provided a boat and engine to take children from the creek to school but at present I heard that they [government] owe the gas station a lot of money. We [parents] were asked to pay $1,000 per week until the bill is cleared. It is very hard for us to find the money.’

Carlyn, housewife,
`I have two children and their father who is in St. Lucia does not support them. Only one would be going to school and when I call his father to ask for money to do school he would pretend he is not hearing me and hang up the phone. It is a real struggle to find the items. I only got the shirt and pants; no footwear, bag, socks and so as yet. But once I get the money to shop I would be able to send my child out from Monday. If not, I would have to wait.’

Benita Rodrigues, housewife,
`My daughter is starting second year nursery. I did last minute shopping and I thank God that I was able to get everything for her. Shopping was a bit difficult because the items were expensive. I was thankful for the voucher from the school because that helped out a lot. I had heard that the government wanted to stop the distribution of the vouchers but I am glad that they continued with it because many single parents benefitted from it.’

Sandra Persaud, waitress,
`I am a single parent and I had to shop for my 14-year-old daughter who is attending secondary school. I had to buy a little at a time how I got the money. I just needed some small items to complete my shopping and I am glad that I got them before school reopens. I don’t think the prices increase too much from last year but yet from the time you start shopping the money would finish so fast.’

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