Back-to-school blues for Westmoreland unemployed

No. 133 Friday, August 27, 2010
By Paul Clarke
The advent of a new school year always results in untold stress on the pocket books and wallets of parents, who have to find a tremendous amount of money to purchase books, shoes, uniforms and bags for September morning.

   This year is even worse, given the already contracted economic environment and the costs associated with school books.
    One woman - a mother of three - who lives in tue Darliston area of Westmoreland and who has been unemployed since March, 2008, is one such single parent now facing the daunting task of providing back to school supplies on an almost none-existent budget.
    “It is extremely difficult to know that September is literally around the corner and I have no money to buy my children’s books for school,” a worried looking Marlene Graham said.
    Ms. Graham said that she will have to depend on the Member of Parliament for the area, Luther Buchanan for assistance.
    “The only way out of this situation is to ask for some help from the MF because I don’t have it,” Graham said.
    There is a similar situation in the parish capital Savanna-la-Mar, where over 2,000 people sought assistance from their Central Westmoreland MP Roger Clarke.
    Milton Miles, Councillor for the Savanna-la-Mar division of the Parish Council, confirmed an increase in persons seeking financial aid for back to school purposes.
    According to Mr. Miles, the increase is dramatic when compared to that of last year. He attributed the increase to the high level of unemployment.
    While the hospitality industry continues to play its part in providing jobs for school leavers, the parish work- force was dealt a severe blow when workers at the Frome Sugar Factory were made redundant and the factory subsequently sold.
    Many parents are now left without a major source of income, which has exasperated the problem, as back to school looms.
    “A significant number of children will not make it to school come September,” remarked the Deputy Mayor for Savanna-la-Mar, Paul Wilson.
    “The reason for this is that many parents, especially in my division (Frome), will be depending on the new sugar crop in either December or January to get money for such critical expense.”
    He said the heartbreaking decision facing many families is whether to use what little money can be found to put food on the table or risk sending children to school without a single book, a pair of shoes or bag.
    “Parents just don’t have the first red cent for purchase of books and for the myriad fees they are required to pay, and as such will have to make a conscious decision to find food or send the children back to school,” Mr. Wilson said.
    “This is the real heartbreak at this time,” he added.
    However, while some things can be had at reasonable costs, others such as school books and uniform are exceedingly high value items.

No comments:

Post a Comment