A Master’s degree, a mortgage and no income
Michelle Wainwright tried to do everything right.
She worked hard for 12 years in a Government social services job.
She holds a mortgage so she and her family can have a piece of the rock.
Feeling the need for further qualifications to advance in her field, she went abroad to earn a Master’s Degree.
Now she is unemployed, has no income and risks losing everything.
And that’s why she stood up at the Progressive Labour Party’s Pembroke election team meeting on Wednesday and questioned the Government’s foresight on the economy.
Ms Wainwright spoke passionately on the global economic crisis, the high rate of unemployment and how it is affecting so many people in Bermuda like herself.
In a follow-up interview with this newspaper, she stressed that she “in no way suggested the PLP was responsible for the global crisis”. But she firmly believes the ruling party must be held accountable.
“I spoke at the meeting because I’m feeling the stress of unemployment, I spoke up because I wanted an explanation as to why Bermuda is in this economic mess. I still don’t feel that I got an answer,” said Ms Wainwright.
“I recognise that there are a number of variables because it's a worldwide issue and it has trickled down to Bermuda. But I also feel there’s something the PLP didn’t do and there’s a lot of unemployment because of it.
“I’m a homeowner with a mortgage to pay and no income. I could lose my house so I’m moving out to save it and my light bill is two months overdue. Thankfully I have people I can stay with.”
Ms Wainwright spent 12 years working as a residential care officer for the Department of Child and Family Services and left to earn a Master’s Degree in social work. She returned home in July and has been unemployed ever since.
Ideally, she would love a job in her field but at this point she said she would settle for a job period. After countless job applications to date, she said she has only received two return phone calls.
“I’ve applied for jobs all over the place for all types of jobs, even administrative work. It makes me feel like I need to leave here and go outside of Bermuda and find work.
“My daughter keeps telling me to leave and come live with her, I’m now registered on a website that sends me job listings abroad. But I shouldn’t have to leave my own country just to live,” said Ms Wainwright.
“To think I left a job to become more qualified only to be unemployed, it’s devastating. Reading some of the comments online about the newspaper article made me wonder what kind of people are we?
“One post asked why have so many children, the paper said I have seven children. I’m the mother of three children who are independent adults and the grandmother of seven including one grandchild who has special needs.
“I was disturbed by the callousness of some of the views expressed, because even if I had seven children those children and I would still have to eat. They would still need a roof over their heads, I just cannot believe some of the things I read.
“As a people we need to get past the judgement and stop judging people’s circumstances. To the people of Bermuda I would like to say ‘be empathetic — let’s pull together, put aside the bias and prejudices’.
“If somebody needs to be fed, share with them, its time for families and the community in general to pull together. Some of the posts online made me wonder how could people be so heartless.
“I know personally that if it weren’t for grace and mercy it could be them in the position I find myself in today.”
When asked how she manages life with no job, Ms Wainwright replied: “I have to rely on the Lord to send me food unless someone is kind enough to give me some money.
“I psyche myself up 80 percent of the time because I’m a positive person and thankfully food is supplied. I don’t think about the bills anymore because I can’t do nothing about them.
“I just depend on something to happen, like I am now with my light bill which is now two months behind and I’m not here to cry about my situation either.
“I just want people to know that a country that doesn’t take care of its people is a country doomed to fail, that’s another reason why Bermuda is failing,” said Ms Wainwright. “And that goes for both political parties, neither one has been as sensitive to the needs of the people as they should be as far as I’m concerned. When I say people I mean people who cannot care for themselves, people with special needs like my grandson, the disabled and the elderly.
“When I called the Department of Financial Assistance I was told point blank I wouldn’t qualify for help because I had been abroad. I wasn’t away on vacation, I wasn’t on no joy trip, I was away trying to better myself and at 57 years of age I still want to do what I love.
“I’m a social worker, its not the best paying job, but I love social work and I still believe I have a lot to give back to my community, the one I was born and raised in.”
Ms Wainwright’s e-mail address is email@example.com.