BY Ahebwe Winnifr ed, 23, Teacher

First in a family of four and the first to graduate from University two years ago, I took on a few of the roles at home including relieving my parents of the breadwinner role. Luckily for me, I chanced a job in a private school as a teacher of English and literature.

The salary wasn’t much but good enough to take care of the basics. Earlier this year, in an effort to uplift my siblings as well as myself, I got a loan from the staff savings scheme hoping to use my salary to pay it off. Unfortunately, schools closed just at the beginning of March while my loan was still on. My work previously required me to be at the station from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. With no side business to run, my job was all I had to earn a living.

The lockdown started while I had a little money with which to pay off the loan. I couldn’t pay that off because that’s what I had to survive on until work resumed. Three months later, there is still no hope of the resumption of schools soon due to the increasing cases. Having last received a salary in March, life has been extremely hard. With no capital to start a side business on which to survive, life is now a tug of war. The once busy days have turned into nightmares.

The loan is now accumulating, the little savings I had are getting done and still, there is no hope of resuming work. Providing food at home has itself become a hustle as I have had to survive on a single meal a day, a thing that had never happened to me. Trust me; this is not a life I would wish anyone to experience. What makes matters worse is that nobody can come to my help because people have a stereotype that teachers are actually well off. I have missed out on some educative workshops since some are carried out on Zoom and yet data isn’t cheap at all. Much as I would like to blame my employer for not looking out for us, I cannot do it entirely because he is not at fault since the students that have always brought the money are at home.

The government can come to our (private teachers) aid by providing minimum basic needs to us like food and other simple basics. It could also waiver loan payments beyond formal lending institutions to those who borrowed from the non-formal institutions. Personally, it may be hard to ascertain whether I still have a job or not, so the government could provide opportunities to teachers who have lost their jobs in this pandemic. Much as the pandemic has really affected me so much, I have learned that I should never put all my eggs in one basket. I hope to get out of this pandemic a completely changed person “shaken but stronger.”