ALTA Students in the Time of Covid

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