Displaced and out of work

With unemployment expected to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, some Bahamians are expressing frustration with finding work on New Providence.

 Johanna Darling, 38, said she moved to New Providence from Grand Bahama a month ago, and has faced challenges with finding stable living accommodations ever since.

“I was staying at the Smith’s Motel, and eventually I moved in Yellow Elder, paying $165 a week for a room,” Darling said.

“I have to now leave here because I can’t afford it. I lost everything in Freeport.

“I have been looking for a job now for almost a month, and I have no idea what I’m going to do.”

Darling said back on Grand Bahama, she worked as a housekeeper and caregiver, cleaning seven condos on Carvel Beach.

Since coming to New Providence, she said that she has applied to at least eight companies with no luck.

“I go to bed hungry most nights,” she said.

“I can’t even buy myself a bottle of water. I feel useless. It’s not right.

“I feel like there is no way out. I barely have slippers to put on my foot.”

 Darling is now seeking assistance with the Department of Social Services for an apartment until she is able to get back on her feet.

Amanda Albury, 40, said she has been out of a job since Hurricane Dorian struck her hometown of Abaco nearly three months ago.

Since relocating to New Providence, she said she applied to several companies but has yet to receive a response, leaving her to rely on limited funds from unemployment checks.

“Every two weeks I’m collecting National Insurance [benefits], but I think I have one more to collect and that’s it,” Albury said.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me and my family.

“I don’t know how I’m going to take care of them because I have no job to fall back on to help them with groceries, things that they need and transportation to get around.

“So, after that National Insurance check is finished, that’s it.”

Albury said family members provided her and her daughter with living accommodations since relocating to New Providence in September.

“We’re staying with a family member at one of their houses, which is on the market. So, once they get a sale and they sign the contract and stuff, we’ll have to leave,” she said.

“Then, when that happens, we would have nowhere to go.”

Albury added that moving back to Abaco is not an option because her landlords have decided that they are not returning to the storm-ravaged island.

“It’s stressful. It’s depressing,” Albury said.

“I mean, it brings tears to my eyes. Some nights I can’t sleep. I’m going to bed at one or two o’ clock in the morning because there’s nothing for me to do. I mean I have no money. So, it’s been very hard.

“I really don’t show my emotion much around my daughter because she’s trying to focus as much as she can because this is her last year in school. So, she’s trying to keep on track with that.”

Albury said back in Abaco, she worked as a cashier at a Rubis Gas Station.

Moving forward, she said she hopes to work as an office clerk.

Gabriel Pratt-Ferguson, 25, decided to enroll at the University of The Bahamas, studying Secondary Math Education, after months of finding no work.

“It’s been a bit difficult finding a job because as they say in The Bahamas, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ And I don’t have any connections,” Ferguson said.

“So, finding a job for my skill set is has been quite difficult.

“I did my first degree at BTVI in office administration, but not knowing anyone and having to go through the ropes is hard, especially finding someone that is willing to pay me what I’m valued or what I believe I should earn.”

Ferguson said, like Albury, she has also applied to several companies.

“It’s very discouraging as a young Bahamian to know that you have to have connections to find work, but I don’t let it deter me,” she said.

“That’s why I went to the university because I know that as a country, we lack teachers, especially in math and I like math.

“So, since I’m unable to find anything that’s willing to pay me what I’m valued, I’m going to try different avenues because I know that when I’m done, I’ll be able to work in a field that I enjoy.”

 Tanique Carey, 23, said she lost her job four months ago after a yacht club near Bimini expressed that it was downsizing.

The single mother said she has since been searching for work on New Providence, Andros, and Eleuthera.

Carey is an aspiring chef that is studying Culinary Arts at the University of The Bahamas, and said that the job hunt thus far has been rough for her.

“It’s really hard, especially being a single parent and being unable to provide for myself and my child,” she said.

“It’s not easy always having to depend on others to meet my needs.”

Based on her experience, Carey said that she too feels that finding a job is more about who one is connected to rather than actual skills.

She said, “This makes me feel like qualifications don’t matter here in The Bahamas. It’s all about connections.”

Despite having extensive experience in the kitchen, Carey said that she has to rely on some family members to find work.

She said, “I have a temporary job for the Christmas, but I’ll continue applying for jobs and pray that something comes through.”

Last week, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson forecasted that unemployment could rise to 13 percent from 9.5 percent.

 Data released form the Department of Statistics in August also showed that unemployment was higher for women than it is for men.

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