Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2017 Contents BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MAY 18 • 2017
Engineering technician who lost his job:
In the quiet agricultural community of Carolina, a
stone's throw away from the Brechin Castle sugar
factory in Central Trinidad, Sunil Bhagwandin, 32,
who lost his job, toils patiently in his ochro garden,
rears three tanks of tilapia, works taxi and does house
design jobs when he get them.
Bhagwandin, who was employed as a civil engineering tech-
nician, is married with a six-month old baby girl, is determined
to beat retrenchment.
"I bring in some money selling ochros to restaurants in Couva
and at the wholesale market. People in the village buy my
tilapia and I make some change working taxi. House plan jobs
bring in a good income but they are not regular.
"On evenings, I bring out left over ochros and put them on
a table at the front to sell to villagers.
"I get by with a basic income, which is not stable." In the
meantime, he continues the hunt for a stable job.
Bhagwandin insisted his wife should not work so she could
devote her full attention to their baby. "I made sure of that,"
As if those were not enough responsibilities, Bhagwandin
cannot pass a stray dog or cat straight. He has brought home
seven dogs and about five or six cats. "The dog food bill is
high," he said.
Describing life without a regular job, he said there are mo-
ments of peace but it's hectic.
"Sometimes, I sit and watch the green around me. It's
soothing. Or watch the tilapia swim. I am 50 per cent in a
good place. I have more time with my daughter but you have
to do what you have to do."
Bhagwandin said his mind is always telling him to do some-
thing to earn an income because nothing is coming in at the
end of the month and "it's like living life with no sleep."
Apart from the ochros he plants on a couple acres someone
"lent" him, he started a pimento garden on a plot at home
intercropped with cabbage.
"On the outskirts I have sweet peppers, patchoi and lettuce.
I also plan to line the whole back of the house with two rows
of cooking fig."
Bhagwandin, a former Chaguanas Junior and Senior Sec-
ondary student, said his parents paid for him to further his
studies in civil engineering at Trinizuela and he thought he
was going make a career in this field.
But his contract as a civil engineering technician at the Min-
istry of Works and Transport ended with no renewal shortly
after the PNM came into government in 2015.
Determined to survive, he fell back on values his parents
taught him and his faith in God.
"My parents always taught me to never be idle, to keep
finding things to do when you don't have work."
Bhagwandin said he is deeply spiritual and believes in "meet-
ing God half way. You do your part and He does the rest."
But everything is not smooth sailing as he is often assailed
by challenges, which he faces calmly and head on.
"One day I sprayed my ochro field and left it alone for the
required time. When I went back, the all the ochroes were
cleaned out. It didn't really bother me."
Another time he had to dump thousands of ochros because
wholesale prices were down.
For the last two months Bhagwandin battled the forces of
"The field almost dried up because of the lack of rainfall
and I had to carry bottles of water in my car trunk to wet the
His home pimento garden is only temporary because he took
a chance and planted it on a dry river bed during the recent
hot spell, installing a sprinkler system he designed and built
himself. But the rain may fill the area and drown his crops if
he does not reap them in time.
Bhagwandin already has a Plan B.
A member of AquaTT, he is going to do aquaponics in the
back yard, a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced
by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for
plants grown hydroponically.
One time, an entire tank of tilapia mysteriously died when
he was busy running around after their baby was born.
But he presses on, trusting. "I take it day by day," he said.
I'm making ends meet
Sunil Bhagwandin tends to
lettuce in his garden.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Bhagwandin said his mind is always
telling him to do something to earn an
income because nothing is coming in at
the end of the month and
"it's like living life with no sleep."
Links Archive May 17th 2017 May 19th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page