WHEN his young wife died of a sudden heart attack in March, Warren Bobb was left to care for his three small children.
His wife, who was in her early 30s, died while her family was planning a wake for her mother.
Bobb, a construction worker also in his mid-30s, was left with Alicia, eight, Enol, seven, and Aaron, five.
He had to find a way to work and supervise their home online schooling.
That’s where residents chipped in.
“We have neighbours close by who volunteer to assist his children and others whose parents have to work,” said Roslyn George, president of the Cashew Gardens Community Council.
“Bobb’s brother-in-law also lives nearby and helps out.”
Bobb preferred not to have his picture revealed or do a direct interview.
George said an arrangement was also worked out for neighbours to accommodate children at their homes for their online schooling.
“We have a case where one child does not have Internet at her home and the neighbour allows her to come across and use their computer and Wi-Fi. Others give their neighbours their Wi-Fi password. We try to pull together and do what we can to help out each other,” she added
George said the small village was established in 2000 under a Land Settlement Agency land allocation programme.
With a vision of forming a model community, residents formed themselves into the Cashew Gardens Community Council.
They even set up a Facebook page “Cashew Gardens, A Model Community” and take the saying, “love thy neighbour as thyself”, literally.
“We planted a communal garden and used the sales from the produce to build our own homework/community centre. We partnered with the Ministry of Community Development to do training in various areas for villagers to keep them productively engaged and give them something to supplement their incomes. After an agriculture workshop, many started their own gardens and set up stalls near the main road,” George said.
But then Covid-19 came.
“We realised we could not continue to operate the centre under the new public health restrictions so we took the 15 desktops we had and sent it to families in need. Parents who use their phones for their children’s schooling come and download the lessons at the centre and go back home with them. We put the Wi-Fi password on the front wall of the centre so people could still have free access to it when they need it,” George said.
George said many people in the community of about 250 families worked in construction and lost jobs when the sector declined during the pandemic.
“It’s now a question of, do I feed the children or do I pay for Internet. It’s that serious in our village. Some just cannot pay $500 for an installation and another $200 monthly for Wi-Fi. It’s that real.”
The community also constantly reaches out to people asking for help to provide food hampers for families in need.
Councillor Vishan Mohammed also helps out with hampers.
In addition, the community is involved in a recycling project with the I Care programme and got financial support from the Government’s Green Fund programme.
George also said the roads and drains in the village remain dilapidated.
“Some of the roads are impassable. We have written letters to the relevant authorities requesting assistance,” she said.
The Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation assists with small infrastructural works.