–among plans outlined by fisherfolk after receiving $150,000 cash grant
HAVING dropped out of school at the age of nine, 54-year-old Enoch Singh has spent most of his life as a fisherman, toiling for hours at sea to “put bread on the table” and make a life for his family and himself.
Having grown accustomed to rewards that are only achieved through many hours of hard work, Singh was overwhelmed with emotion when his fortunes changed on Saturday, when he easily uplifted his $150,000 grant from the Government of Guyana as part of the fisherfolk initiative intended to offer relief amidst rising cost of living.
Singh, accompanied by his wife, Rohani, was among 1,305 fisherfolk who were scheduled to receive their cash grant on Saturday at the Ministry of Agriculture.
That distribution exercise, led by Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo, covered fisherfolk operating in the Bagotsown to Farm area on the East Bank Demerara, as well as in Gopie, Grove, Herstelling, Meadow Bank, New Hope, Nobel House, Peter’s Hall, PSI, Riverview, Stabroek and Timehri.
Singh and his wife, after uplifting their grant, said that they used to own one boat each, but had had to sell his. He is the captain of the boat, while they also have two workmen. All four were able to benefit from the cash grant.
The couple told the Guyana Chronicle that they will be using the money they received to invest in their fishing business, particularly after they were recently the victims of piracy and had one of their engines stolen.
Rohani related that she is glad to see the support being given to fisherfolk, so that persons could feel encouraged. She has been in the profession for over 30 years, and with a broad smile, she said that she does not see herself leaving any time soon.
Another fisherfolk, 60-year-old Albert Gomes of Albouystown, said that the $150,000 has opened a way for him to be able to invest some money in a new business venture.
“This $150,000, I thankful very much for it; it could put a little rice and some other things in my pot, and right now I’m studying to use $100,000 from it and buy some coconut and go and sell on the road, because the fishing ground close off for a l’il while, and I am not working right now,” Gomes said.
He related that in the same way the industry has grown over the years, so, too, has the amount of persons involved in the business, and as such it has become all the more competitive to survive.
“It getting really hard and tough for the fisherman, but I thankful for this money a great lot. I going and do some investment, because I’m not working right now,” Gomes said.
Curtis Kellman, a 66-year-old Sophia resident, is also looking to hang up his fishing cap, so to speak. And he believes that the government’s assistance has come at just the right time to give him the support he needs to transition into a new business.
“This year I plan to retire from sea trawler work, because I’m 66. With this money, I can put some more and buy a bus and come off clean off the sea work, because I get big now, and my children rowing with me to come off of the work,” he said.
Kellman said that he has worked for a number of years with popular fishing company, Pritipaul Singh Investments Inc., and is ready to call it a day.
Fareeda Majeed, a 51-year-old fisherfolk who recently lost her husband, gladly clutched her cheque, and said that she will be putting her money to good use, especially in the household.
“I gon buy l’il groceries, and I gon still work my boat in and out. I’m thankful for this government for giving me this money,” the fisherwoman said, adding that she has been working for the past 22 years in the fish- catching business.
With just seven years in the industry, young Kevon Thomas believes it’s still a viable profession for him. However, he is looking forward to weathering whatever bad times the industry may be facing, and continuing in the profession.
A father of two, Thomas said that he will be using money from his cash grant to finance renovations to his home.
“I felt a bit relieved; a bit happy, knowing that, yes, the government is working with the fishermen them. Ah feel excited, and I can do a lot of things with the money; put it to good use. Right now I’m doing some renovations on the house, and it will help to buy some materials,” Thomas said.