Trinidad: Single mom fired for staying home with child

Joseann Hug­gins

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) A sin­gle par­ent who had no choice but to stay at home with her child af­ter the earth­quake dam­aged For­est Re­serve An­gli­can Pri­ma­ry School was closed has lost her job.

Yes­ter­day, moth­er of four Joseann Hug­gins, 37, who was among the par­ents who staged a plac­ard protest at Fyz­abad Junc­tion, plead­ed with Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia to find al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tions for the chil­dren.

Hug­gins said she was fired two weeks ago and now has to hus­tle night jobs and “small jobs” to make ends meet.

“I was em­ployed be­fore and I called my em­ploy­er and told him the sit­u­a­tion be­cause I am a sin­gle par­ent and I have no one to watch my kids. The ba­by is present­ly in day­care, but to put the both of them in day­care with the salary I mak­ing it will come like I get­ting noth­ing,” Hug­gins said.

She said her boss sym­pa­thised with her, but she was tak­ing too much time off and she was fired.

Her six-year-old daugh­ter at­tends the An­gli­can School. Hug­gins al­so has an 18-months-old who is in day­care and two daugh­ters ages 16 and 15, who at­tend sec­ondary school.

Hug­gins said some­times she would leave her small­er chil­dren with the old­er ones in or­der for her to work.

“This not af­fect­ing the chil­dren alone or the par­ents alone, it af­fect­ing the fam­i­ly be­cause…with­out an in­come com­ing home, what is my out­come,” Hug­gins said.

The school’s Par­ent Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Sh­er­nel An­drews said while Stan­dard Five pupils have been re­lo­cat­ed to the Siparia Old Road Pres­by­ter­ian School the oth­er stu­dents are home.

Aware of the the con­straints of the econ­o­my, she said they had put for­ward four op­tions to the min­istry and the An­gli­can Board.

She said the op­tions in­clud­ed de­mol­ish­ing the old build­ing and putting up a pre-fab­ri­cat­ed struc­ture, re­lo­cate to the South Oropouche Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre, use the aban­doned Hi Lo build­ing or the un­used Petrotrin bun­ga­low.

An­drews said they were told that the school would have been re­lo­cat­ed to the com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre by the end of this week, but no oth­er in­for­ma­tion has been forth­com­ing.

“We are plead­ing,. We are ask­ing for some an­swers to the sit­u­a­tion,” said An­drews who said the school has a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 128 and 14 teach­ing staff mem­bers.

In re­sponse, an of­fi­cial from the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry said the South Oropouche Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre has been iden­ti­fied and the Ed­u­ca­tion Fa­cil­i­ties Com­pa­ny Lim­it­ed has al­ready done an as­sess­ment. The of­fi­cial said the min­istry has since sent a let­ter to the Com­mu­ni­ty De­vel­op­ment Min­istry seek­ing per­mis­sion to use the cen­tre and is await­ing a re­sponse.

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