ALTA Students in Time of Covid

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

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