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‘We don’t have enough to make it’

Nathaniel Roberts, 31, sat in a hot car in the parking lot of the Department of Social Services in Fox Hill yesterday.

There was a faint hum of gospel music coming from the radio.

However, he was not focused on that. Instead, he appeared deep in thought as held his head and stared out the dirty window.

“Things ain’t going too well because of a lack of job,” Roberts told The Nassau Guardian.

“I ain’t working and it’s hard to get food in the cupboard to eat and whatnot.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do with this coronavirus but they need to try to do something quick because it’s hard for people on the road who ain’t got no job, especially for people who ain’t working for government. It really hard for us.”

Roberts usually works as a welder.

But, about two weeks ago he was laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly after the first case of the virus was confirmed in the country, the government declared a state of emergency and ordered that all non-essential businesses close. Hotel workers were the first to be sent home. Thousands more have been laid off in the last few weeks. Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle said earlier this week that some 30,000 people have applied for unemployment assistance.

Roberts continued, “All the hardware stores closed down so ain’t no work for me.

“So, I can’t really supply enough for the house.”

Roberts has two children — ages nine and 11 — who are dependent on him.

The Guardian asked whether it’s difficult providing for his son and daughter during the pandemic.

With a sigh, he replied, “Boy, it’s really hard because you don’t know what the next step is with all this lockdown and whatnot. I can’t even work because people saving their money for other stuff to try to survive for [themselves] so business is on a real hold.

“I don’t know what I ga do right now. I just keep my faith in God that things will be more better.”

Roberts was waiting on his girlfriend, who was trying to secure social service assistance for their family, when he spoke to this paper.

“They saying her operating officer ain’t there so she have to come back tomorrow,” he said.

Asked if he had enough groceries to last until next Thursday, Roberts replied, “Not really. It’s only something to peck on but it’s not much.”

A few steps away from Roberts’ car, there was a handful of women sitting under a tent awaiting entry into the Department of Social Services building.

One woman sat on a chair, fanning herself with a folded piece of paper.

Another woman leaned down — hands on her knees — and stared at the asphalt beneath her feet.

None of them wanted to speak with The Guardian.

“Miss, I can’t talk,” one woman shouted.

“I too worried about what I ga eat tomorrow. Talking to you ain’t ga change that.”

Another woman, who was sitting on a long concrete flower pot in front of the building, stared timidly.

She got up and walked to the parking lot and signaled that The Guardian follow.

“I don’t work,” whispered Mae Forbes, 50, from behind the building.

Asked if she had lost her job as a result of the pandemic, she replied, “No, my daughter, my granddaughter and my grandson. We all live together.

“We’re trying to make it the best that we can.

“I came out here to get some assistance for the household but we were turned away from social services. We don’t really have enough to make it to next week but I guess we will have to make do with the little that we have.”

She said there are five children living in the house.

“I hope that someone will help,” Forbes said.

“I’m worried.”

She said she arrived at the Department of Social Services at 5:30 a.m. yesterday.

Up to noon, she still had not been served.

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