Reading, It’s Life!

ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

i Oct 14th No Comments by

Life everywhere continues to be dominated by the pandemic and many of us
have been forced to adapt. We continue our series featuring the work of ALTA
students who tell us how they fared during this time of uncertainty.

While ALTA students join classes with
varying degrees of reading and writing skill, the pieces shared in this series
are from student writers at ALTA Level 3 and the ALTA Spelling Programme. These
students are competent readers who have reached a certain comfort level with
the written word and are acquiring mastery of Standard English grammar and

Andrea Dube has shown strength and ingenuity. She signed up for ALTA
Virtual classes to improve herself, but it also helped to keep her mind off
Covid. Here is her story.


Coronavirus started in Wuhan, China in early December 2019. During this time,
most of us were unaware of its significance. I didn’t know anything about the
coronavirus and did not think much of it at the time, but I used to listen to
the daily news and I could hear the reporters talking about the Coronavirus
which is also known as the Covid-19.

My sister
informed me about the seriousness of the virus because around that time people
started dying when they contracted it and it began spreading quickly from
country to country. I became worried because Carnival was approaching in
Trinidad and Tobago and people usually come from all different parts of the
world to enjoy our national culture.

After Carnival
ended and I realized that there were no Covid-19 cases in Trinidad and Tobago,
I breathed a sigh of relief but I was still worried about other countries. My
sister kept telling me about the seriousness of the virus because at the time
she was at home and would keep abreast of the daily news.

On March 12th,
2020, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, more specifically Trinidad, received
its first Covid-19 case. I remembered the day so vividly. I was working and a
customer came into my workplace and said that someone came into the country
with the Covid-19 virus and was placed into quarantine. On my way home, the
announcement was made on the news. By the time I got home, both my mother and
sister were aware of the news and they became afraid saying, “we got a case of
the virus”. The Health Minister also confirmed this tragedy. Some days later,
another case was confirmed and unfortunately this person succumbed to the
deadly virus.

We soon
realized that every new case that was discovered came from a person that
recently arrived in Trinidad and on March 22nd 2020, the government
decided to close our borders. To date, our borders remain closed. In addition
to the closure of our borders, all our beaches were closed and all persons that
were classed as non-essential workers had to remain at home thus putting the
country in a state of lock down.

I remember
people began to panic buy grocery items such as hand sanitizers and hand soap
as well as other cleaning products which eventually became difficult to
acquire. Some persons began manufacturing their own hand sanitizer and started
selling them. Soon after, the Health Minister announced that a face mask had to
be worn in all public spaces. This was especially hard for me because I have asthma
so I avoided going out in public.

My mother also
avoided going outdoors unless it was absolutely essential and she even became a
little paranoid. It became quite difficult for us to survive because I stayed
at home and was no longer generating an income. Eventually, the government
issued grants to persons who became unemployed and this helped to ease my
burden. Grocery items were donated by good Samaritans to assist my household.

Returning to
work was a delightful feeling even though there were a number of changes that
were made to my daily life. Social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing and
sanitizing one’s hands all became mandatory.

Whilst working one day, I was listening to 100.1 FM and I heard an announcement for ALTA Virtual classes. I wrote down the contact information and called them the following day to sign up for the classes. ALTA Virtual classes have been a tremendous help to me because I am being taught by two wonderful tutors who dedicate their time in assisting me to improve my literacy. I always look forward to my Mondays and Wednesdays ALTA virtual classes which help to keep my mind off the stresses of Covid-19.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an
ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming
a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

i Oct 7th No Comments by

Today ALTA
student Razeen Samad shares with us how she has been navigating the pandemic.
It is tough, but she is fortunate that in her community they look out for each
other. She is optimistic about the future and encourages her neighbours to

Razeen Samad

The start of the pandemic occurred on March 12th 2020 in beautiful Trinidad and Tobago. The Minister of Health Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed the first case of Covid -19 in Trinidad and Tobago. To me, it was very scary to know that one of the deadliest viruses in the world had reached my beautiful country, and so it began.

At the end of March, in the year of 2020, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago started to put restrictions in certain places to help to stop the spread of Covid-19. I am not lying to tell you surviving with Covid -19 is very difficult and stressful. I am a single mother of two beautiful children. My daughter is an upper six student at S.W.A.H.A. Hindu College and my son is a standard 4 student at Grosvenor Presbyterian School.

It has been
very hard to cope because I need things for my kids and due to the Covid-19 no
one is hiring people to work. Many people lost their work due to the pandemic.
It is so sad but by God’s grace and my loving family and beautiful friends, I
am surviving and when I feel stress I put on my music and dance and relax

Our country
was in lockdown for about three months. We were not allowed to go to places
such as the beaches, malls, cinemas, schools and places of worship and no
in-house dining was allowed. I was unhappy because of it. I love to take my
kids out to have fun but we had to adapt to the situation that was taking place
right now. I had to take a chance of going out in the public to get food items
and stationery supplies for my kids and myself because I am a proud Level Two
student at ALTA.

I am what
you call a high-risk patient because I suffer with asthma. It is difficult to
breathe with a mask on. I always have a big bottle of sanitizer and a few extra
masks in my handbag.

Some of the
struggles we mothers are facing are as the kids are home right through they are
eating more often. Sometimes food is finished and I have to go out to buy more
food items. Mothers have it hard because we have to cook all day and have to
help teach our kids school work and do all our housework. Sometimes we do not
have any time to rest. As you lie down all you hearing is “Mummy.”

In the
beginning it was difficult to join a virtual class because I did not know what
to do. I never use Zoom before so it was a new experience for me. One thing I
miss a lot is meeting and socializing with my friends. I am a social butterfly.
I love to meet new people. I miss not being able to hug my family and friends,
but we have to do the right thing. A next difficulty we are having – as
internet drops we lose our connection but in all I am loving my virtual

The women
in my area Coal Mine are striving. We look out for each other. I encourage all
my neighbours not to give up. Things will get better in the near future. This
is my journey through Covid-19.

If you or someone you know is
interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA
Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

i Sep 30th No Comments by

continue our series on ALTA Students during Covid.

While the pandemic has shown Cassandra how fragile life can be, she made
the necessary changes to survive and stay healthy.


On March 11th 2020, the World Health Organization declared
the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and protocols were put in place in many
countries. Around then I started hearing words like “social distancing” “protocols”
and by the end of March our borders were closed.

We had about ten persons infected when we went into our first lockdown.
It was frightening. I was anxious all the time and didn’t want to leave the
house. The television was on all day while I was trying to stay updated on the
community spread. All the information was given daily by our Minister of Health
and Chief Medical Officer on what the government was doing to protect citizens.
Health care systems around the world were stocking up on personal protective
equipment and getting prepared for massive influxes of infected persons.

There was panic and uncertainty because there was so much about corona virus
that we did not know. The only way to fight the pandemic was to make sure
people followed social distancing and maintained good hygiene practices until a
vaccine is rolled out.

The effect Covid-19 had on my life is one I will never forget. I had to
take a good look at my age, my health and the pre-existing conditions I have,
thyroid issues, high blood pressure and diabetes. This is what the doctors call
comorbidities. I was considered an at-risk person, so I had to make a lot of
changes to my lifestyle. I had to reduce contact with other people to lower the
risk of contracting the virus. I also had to work on boosting my immune system.
I used lots of oranges, fever grass and ginger.

I was forced to stop my physical ALTA classes because of the lockdown,
and I had to stop socializing with my friends and family. I could not travel
and had to cancel my gym membership. I had to think and plan before I left the
house and change how I ran errands from the way I shopped for groceries to
reducing visits to my elderly mother. Not to mention I had to wear masks
everywhere. Every time I went out and returned home, I had to leave all my
things outside to be sanitized. Every item I used had to be cleaned before it
could be taken into the house.

As a wife and mother, surviving is what I know. My priority is to keep
working on staying healthy. My faith, on the other hand, gave me the strength
to make it through each day with purpose.

My message is that corona virus is real and not a hoax.  It kills. Take for instance, when you get the
flu what you have to go through, think ten times more. You cannot breathe, your
lungs want to burst from your chest. 
People need to realize the importance of heeding expert advice about
Covid-19. We thought the world could not stop, but it did and over 1 million
people died. Think about that.

I would like future generations to know that in a matter of three
months, we had to learn to wear masks almost everywhere we went and get used to
washing our hands until they were pale. We learnt how hard it was to work from
home while home schooling your children.

The next generations should use these lessons, their skill and
technology to prepare for the next pandemic. We learnt to put health first. We
learnt life’s real priorities and how to adapt for survival.

I am focusing on finding joy in as many moments as I can. This pandemic
has shown me how fickle and fragile life can be. We should not be afraid to take
a chance on ourselves and our dreams. That is why I intend to surround myself
with like-minded women to achieve the sort of independence that with allow me
to live the life I deserve.

I hope that in the next century the world is better off so if there is
another outbreak of any disease, the leaders of that time could handle it with
better communication and more sympathy for the poor and unfortunate people. I
pray they can avoid the amount of death and tragedy we saw with Covid-19 and
live in a grateful world.

If you or someone you know is
interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA
Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

i Sep 23rd No Comments by

pandemic has infiltrated our lives and we have all had to find ways to manage. We
continue our series highlighting the work of ALTA students illustrating how
they coped during this challenging time. Today Francis shares his thoughts on
how he is coming to terms with a new way of life during Covid. Yes he
experiences fear, but he also has a deep faith that sustains him.


One year
ago, I started learning a new understanding of words I have used from time to
time, words like lockdown, in-person, quarantine, community spread and physical
distancing. These words became household words for families across the world.

When Covid
19 reached the shores of Trinidad and Tobago, we had no idea that the effects
would be as devastating as it turned out to be. Imagine living in a house with
family members for years and suddenly you are looking at the same family
members with a ‘cut-eye’ because you are not sure if they are coming home with
Covid 19 to give it to you.  It really
was a frightening time in our lives.

essential workers, my wife and I had to work through the periods of closed
borders and the lockdown.  It took some
getting accustomed to driving to work on empty streets, seeing so many
businesses closed during the weeks and months of the lockdown.  The mandatory mask wearing, the wearing of
personal protective equipment (PPE), these measures we took for ourselves and
our family to remain safe from the ravages of Covid 19.

The people
of this country social beings that they are, fell into a pit of physical
distancing which meant no more parties, liming in bars, cinemas, water parks,
etc.  The entertainment industry took a
hit which resulted in entertainers exploring new ways to reach their audiences.

My wife is
a front-line worker and she was and still is, one year later, fearful for her
life because she suffers with co-morbidities. 
Even though she is protected by her PPE she is still in fear and understandably
so, as this virus is so infectious, you really have to do all you can to stay
free of it.

our children were already out of school by the time this virus hit. This
pandemic spared none in its wake.  Even
the children had to start learning in a new format which caused some mothers to
leave their jobs. Others had to start leaving work early and others had to find
time at work to monitor their children to make sure they are in class when they
ought to be.

One thing I
must say is that my wife and I have gotten this far and we pray that God will
take us through to the end of this pandemic.

Next week
we will look at how a student was able to successfully pivot and make the best
of her time during Covid.

If you or someone you know is
interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA
Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in Time of Covid

i Sep 16th No Comments by

The months
of restrictions due to Covid 19 have been very challenging for ALTA student
Ribelto Britto. He lost his job and had to find ways to survive, but he is
resilient. Today he shares with us how he managed during this stressful
lockdown time. He does admit however that it gave him the opportunity to
empathise with women who usually do all the chores. He also learnt to value
little things, like spending quality family time.   

Ribelto Britto

When I first heard of Covid 19, it was 3 days after Carnival
in Trinidad and Tobago. It came as a shocker to me because it was just a couple
of days after jumping up, masquerading and celebrating with hundreds of people
that were also unaware of this major pandemic that was soon to hit our country.
Being uneducated and unprepared for this pandemic, it was a struggle for me as
we entered the lockdown stage.

Knowing that I have used the majority of my savings for the
Carnival period supporting myself had become a task. It was not only myself I
had was to care for, but the wellbeing of my family as well.  Due to the lockdown, I suffered a great loss
of income and supported myself by minimizing and utilizing the last of my
savings to pay bills, etc.

I will speak about what was going through my mind when they
decided to have a lockdown.  How long
will it last? What’s the next step in life because I have already lost my job? How
I’m going to eat or pay my bills for the next few months or years to come with
this going on? It was not an easy thing to sit and think about because there
was not going to have any jobs available for a long time.

I made some choices by carrying on my fitness sessions at person’s homes in order to have an income to live and pay my bills. It was not an easy thing because most were living far and I had to travel in order to get to them, but it was a risk I was willing to take. From having a monthly income, I move to a daily income. Wasn’t much, but I had to work with it till better can be done.

Most women around me had other older children to see about
the younger ones, but it was a task for even them because of doing online
schooling and picking up after them. Some had to find a family member or a
friend to take care of their children while at work to make sure they are well
taken care of during the period. There were some who actually had to take their
kids to work with them. It was a very stressful time for most.

Myself on the other hand had to cook every day because I was home. Honestly, I now see why women always fuss when they have to cook every day because it’s a task. My mother had to work, so I had to pick up on a lot of the tasks around the house like cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.

On the other hand, I have learnt a lot from this because it
gives you a wakeup call on how caught up you were in the world that you didn’t
see the importance of the little things in life, like spending time with your
family and doing things together.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in Time of Covid

i Sep 9th No Comments by

We continue
to get a glimpse of how ALTA students have been coping with Covid 19. Today we
get the perspective of Ezekiel George whose faith and resourcefulness helped
him during this difficult time. He adjusted his lifestyle and planted some food
crops. ALTA virtual classes also contributed to his ability to overcome the crisis
thus far.

Ezekiel George

I must start by saying “Thank God for life”. My first
hearing about Corona Virus in Trinidad was on television.  It was coming out of Wuhan, China back in
December 2019.  Most of us were unaware
of its significance. I saw lots of people in China wearing face masks.  At that time, it seemed like a joke to me to
see so many people having on this mask. 
My initial thought was that it will stay in China. As days go by
information began to spread that it may reach Trinidad and Tobago. So everyone
including myself started to think about the Corona virus, commonly called

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organisation assessed
Covid-19 to be a pandemic. One day later on March 12, 2020 the first case of
Covid-19 in Trinidad and Tobago was confirmed by the Minister of Health.  I remember that day. This news affected my
emotions and with all different thoughts going through my mind about this
deadly disease.

Our first nationwide lockdown happened on March 16,
2020.  I took the opportunity and made
some adjustments to my life style. I began to do some planting of food crops,
and my wife being a seamstress, she was able to make face masks for the family
and also put some on sale.  Panic buying
was not so much on my mind, because my son’s business is a convenience shop
selling foodstuffs and other necessities. 
There were times I questioned myself about the virus: “Where did it come
from? What caused it and will the impact of this situation be good or bad?”

This is a new learning experience. I must say I am surviving
but it is somewhat difficult to keep up with my personal hobbies, like
football, visiting the elderly and also as a social event organizer and church

At this time I will like to say that the men have their hands full, but also the women around us are playing an important role. My wife, daughters, daughters-in-law also my grand daughters are very strict with the guidelines of Covid-19. They continually remind me “Boy wash your hand, change your clothes, sanitize, wear your mask and more.”  Could you imagine my granddaughter who is two years and three months saying “Grand papa,” and showing me my mask is off my nose?

As I summarize I am proud of ALTA being at the forefront of
the places of learning. They are committed to ensuring that students remain
engaged by virtual classes.  This also
helped me to learn how to use my smart phone, tablet on WhatsApp and Zoom, etc.

I much say that I miss classroom teaching, but at home there is some advantage, like not travelling or worrying about the weather.

I would like to conclude with the information that I trust
God and the experts, my family and friends who reminded me at times. I must say
this is my way of sharing with others and also the future generation of how to
overcome a crisis.

At this point, last but not least, on February 17th
2021 front line workers at the highest level of risk were the first persons in
Trinidad and Tobago to receive vaccinations.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in Time of Covid

i Aug 26th No Comments by

My Corona Virus Experience

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our lives another ALTA student JLK shares her thoughts and experience during this difficult time. Her positive outlook is outstanding. She realised that fake news was causing uncontrollable anxiety, so she took steps to deal with that. Though she was forced to close her business, she managed to stay upbeat. JKL filled her days expanding her skills by doing online classes in sewing and baking. She also joined ALTA Virtual Literacy classes.


I remember that day like it was yesterday. The first recorded case of COVID-19 was on March 12th, 2020 in my country of Trinidad and Tobago. I recall it so well because I was making plans for my Easter Egg Hunt and my phone rang. It was the baker asking if I would still need the order of cupcakes and if the Egg Hunt was still on seeing as we now had a reported case of the COVID-19 Virus in our country.

I immediately turned on the television and there was a press conference being held by the Honourable Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh giving information to the nation about our first case and about the virus. I instantly had to put my Easter Egg Hunt on hold.

The next day it was reported that schools were going to be closed. I was panicking a little. I had to get some supplies from the supermarket and the pharmacy. I didn’t want to get it myself and I didn’t have to because both the pharmacy and the supermarket were taking orders and doing deliveries, so I didn’t need to leave home.

I had become obsessed with the press conference and checking online for information concerning the COVID-19 Virus. I also read false news on social media and because of that, my anxiety became uncontrollable. I decided to take a step back from the information coming in and deal with things I had control over.

As the country began to shut down not knowing when things would be coming back to normal, I had to take some steps in my online clothing business. I had to sell out my inventory for a lesser price than I had intended. Also, I had to close my business down.

Now with all the free time I had, I needed to find things to fill my days. I did two online sewing classes and an online cake baking class and at the beginning of 2021 I joined the ALTA Virtual Literacy Learning Classes. This was something I needed to do for a long time but never had the time and having it online was a bonus for me. It was easier to be present for classes and some students can also join the class while at work.

The Coronavirus has changed life as we know it. If we keep doing what is required of us to keep ourselves and our family safe, I believe things will get better and eventually return to normal.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 708-1990 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in the Time of COVID

i Aug 19th No Comments by

Like the rest of the world ALTA students have had to adjust to life dominated by COVID-19. Today we feature the work of two students whose contributions were previously published in We Learn Women’s Perspective. Claudette and Janice (not real name) tell us how the pandemic affected them.


On Thursday 12th March 2020, Trinidad and Tobago confirmed its first COVID-19 case. This was after the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on March 11th, 2020.

After the declaration many events were cancelled, as they considered what to do. Eventually we went into lockdown where our borders were closed. Citizens that were outside at that time could not return. When the government allowed persons to return, they had to be placed in quarantine.

This was a difficult time for the country and my family also. My children could not visit their father and me. My prayer group for women also had to stop having meetings at my home. I still encouraged friends, family and the women around me daily on the phone when they were discouraged.

It was a happy experience to begin my literacy learning. Thankfully, I was used to attending programmes online so that online classes were not too difficult to do. Apart from class, I have enjoyed the ways I could connect with persons online as I have been able to attend church services with members in different countries without wanting a flight and paying a cent.

All in all, COVID-19 has certainly changed everyday life.


On March 11th 2020 the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 12th 2020 the first case of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago was confirmed by Minister of Health Mr Terrence Deyalsingh. It was the day people started to panic.

The supermarket was full of people buying the stuff they needed. We tried getting as much information on the television as the Honourable Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addressed the nation about what it is about and what measures were being set in place to deal with the virus.

He started by closing schools, cinemas, churches, bars, beaches and all outdoor activities. We had to be socially distanced, wash our hands and sanitize. Now you can’t go and buy anything without your mask. There were many job cuts. Some people learnt to do things that they never imagined they could do. Some families got time to bond with each other. This pandemic taught many of us how to appreciate what we have.

China was the first country to get COVID-19 and first get the vaccine. On February 18th 2021 Trinidad and Tobago got our first shipment of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. I saw some of the elderly in America happy that they got the vaccine so they could hug their loved ones again and visit them.

It’s been a year now and all over the world nothing is the same. We will not be able to have our normal lives back any time soon.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the restaurant where I work had to close down due to the economy. Everyone was at home making the best of everything. We exercised a lot because we started putting on weight because we started cooking all kinds of different foods because you couldn’t go anywhere to eat.

At times I thought it wouldn’t ever end. Eventually our Prime Minister Dr Rowley started to reopen some places. We were excited to go to the beach. We went to the Savannah and enjoyed ourselves. My sister and niece got their jobs back and they work on rotation.

Now, we make the best of it and we interact a lot.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 708-1990 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

i Aug 12th No Comments by

Life during Covid has been a struggle. While some of us have languished or have barely coped, some have been able to thrive, grasping opportunities that came with lockdown and the many restrictions.

Over the next few weeks, we will get a glimpse into the lives of a few ALTA women and how they responded to the pandemic. These excerpts have already appeared in ‘We Learn Women’s Perspective’, an US-based online publication of writing for women learners. This year the theme was Women in the Time of Covid.

Today we feature the writing from an ALTA-V student, who has signed herself simply as N. In her own words, she tells how despite fear and uncertainty she was able to find some positives. She bonded with friends and family and improved herself by taking advantage of ALTA online classes.

Embrace the opportunity to learn and improve despite Covid 19

A Friday I will not forget, March 12th 2020. I was having pizza and wine with friends after work and we heard on the news that Trinidad had its first confirmed Covid 19 case and all schools will be closing.

I am one of those people that says, “God is a Trini” and “Covid won’t reach us”. Fear stepped in as I started to wonder if anyone at the restaurant had the virus and I immediately wanted to go home. I felt the need to be with my family.

We paid the bill and I headed home thinking about what was going to happen. Is the government going to shut down the country, do we have enough food? We need to have cash in hand.

When I arrived home my husband was there flicking the television channel from local channel, CNC3, to CNN and BBC. I rushed to my pantry and started making a list of the things we needed to stock up on.

My daughter was just happy she did not have school. I had hundreds of messages, from the many group chats with friends, family and colleagues touching base, advising each other what to do, what to buy and how to keep ourselves safe.

Early the next day I headed to PriceSmart Members Club where I felt all Trinidadians went. There were no trolleys, long lines – everyone was just panic buying. People felt scared. There were long lines at every supermarket and pharmacy because they were ensuring they had sufficient food and medical supplies.

For some reason everyone seemed to be stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels. Most of the women I know felt scared and took every possible precaution to keep their families safe.

As the days went by more Covid cases were reported. There were some residents returning from a cruise, many of whom were infected with the virus and some deaths were recorded. As the number of deaths increased, so did the restrictions. The government announced the lockdown, only allowing essential services to open, those being supermarkets and pharmacies. We were advised to wear face masks and the washing of hands became the norm everywhere.

Being employed in an organization that was deemed an essential service, things got rough for me. To manage the emotions and uncertainty that the employees expressed was the biggest challenge the organization had to deal with during the lockdown. Everyone was scared, the employees complained that they felt unsafe and were putting their families at risk. My family felt sad and unsafe because I had to go out some days. The staff went into survival mode, and are still surviving with God’s grace.

Despite the lockdown and the feeling of fear and uncertainty, there were some positives for me and many of my friends and relatives. It brought us closer together just by constantly checking on each other, ensuring that everyone was okay and had everything they needed. I cooked things I never thought I could, enjoyed baking with my daughter, had many movie nights and resumed ALTA.

I was very happy when my ALTA tutor reached out to me asking if I would like to participate in a class via Zoom. We started classes and I was able to complete that level and move on to the next level.

I enjoy these online classes immensely as the tutors make learning easy and interesting. I also love learning in the comfort of my home and will encourage anyone to join ALTA online classes, embrace the opportunity to learn and improve themselves despite Covid 19.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Trailblazers – Sylvester’s Success Story

i Aug 5th No Comments by

This week, ALTA shares the second half of Sylvester Derby’s story first shared in 2002. Following a challenging school career which left him with an uncertain future, Sylvester met with personal success after improving his literacy skill. Trailblazers like Sylvester have helped to build awareness of ALTA’s work by sharing their experiences with the programme, which ultimately leads to more people getting the help they need to improve their reading and writing.

Here is Sylvester’s update.

First published in Newsday. Reprinted with permission.

Beautiful memories

During the course of my life I have acquired my own home, owned three motorbikes, received my taxi badge, heavy-t, private car and motorbike licence. Although I had achieved all those things I was still unhappy with myself until ALTA came into my life and made me whole.

My advice to any person who may have any problem in their life is to get help. It may not be a learning problem but whatever it is, do not give up. You could do damage to yourself and your family when you do not feel good about yourself, I know that feeling so well. You could achieve all the material things in life that you think would make you happy, but if you do not feel great about yourself nothing would matter until you begin to love yourself.

I must say special thanks to all the teachers in ALTA who give of their free time to help me and others to improve our spelling and reading skills. They made us feel so special about ourselves and that is the way everyone should feel. When I left ALTA after three years, I had the confidence in myself to resign the job I was doing for thirteen years and start a new job.

I am a lithographer, I work in a darkroom but the computer, which I operate, is now doing the work. In this changing world of technology you must be able to read and spell properly.

People with learning problems would encounter problems for example, filling out forms, dealing with banks, credit unions, furniture and appliance stores for credit transactions and have to be able to read medication labels. You must also understand terms and conditions when signing contracts so that no person can take advantage of you.

The company I work for voted me the BEST employee in my department for which I received $500. I must give thanks to all the sponsors and let them know that their financial support was not in vain. I am proof of that.

When I received the award the first thing that came to my mind was ALTA. All those beautiful memories I had there would always be with me for the rest of my life.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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