Sonia Outram is among those who work while many of us are still asleep.
From as early as 4:00 a.m., she and her team tirelessly work to ensure the roadways are clean.
Her job at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), as a frontline worker, goes unacknowledged by many in the public and even taken for granted. But it is crucial in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Outram is assigned to the area of Bridgetown and its environs. For her, that means “clearing and cleaning drains from refuse and giving the roads a good wash, especially since the streets are still home for the homeless”.
She said the lockdown measures also meant closing the public baths and the closure of some shelters, since some vagrants had tested positive for COVID-19. When this development came to light, she and her team put even more effort in getting rid of unwanted vectors and germs.
“I was never fearful of the virus, as the nature of my job means making the unsanitary, sanitary, so wearing protective gear was nothing new. I always ensure my team wears their masks and face shields and we don’t hesitate to wear our hazmat suits when necessary. Since COVID, I’ve encouraged my team to keep a small bottle of sanitizer on them at all times,” she explained.
As she has been a supervisor for several years, she leads by example, practising good hygiene at work and at home.
“When I get home, I keep my shoes in one place and my clothing goes into the laundry. I have to keep where I live clean and comfortable,” she told TODAY’s Woman.
Although she lives alone, Outram regularly interacts with her 92-year-old neighbour, her sister, and her seven-year-old grandson. Even then, she is careful.
“Even though they are my friends and family, I still wear my mask around them, and I also got vaccinated. The truth is, I am a social person and COVID restrictions did interfere with meeting up with my friends from my St Leonard’s Old Scholars Group. But now we are very active on our WhatsApp chat and we check in on one another. We have virtual drinks and those are good,” she said with a chuckle.
Outram shared that to avoid being stressed about COVID she jokes with her co-workers and tries to keep in good spirits.
She had a few creative ideas for women who may be at home during this time: “Take up a hobby, plant a spinach vine, learn how to make cookies. If you’re feeling stuck at home, pick a wall and paint it a different colour. Go to the beach, collect some seashells and decorate a mirror. There is a lot of joy you can get from creating something on your own, and it could even become a business venture.”
Outram also encouraged her fellow frontline workers to follow the protocols, exercise, eat healthily, and remain happy.
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord and put on some music when you come home. You can either dance by yourself or grab your partner and do a little jig. But, most importantly, stay positive!” she advised.
This article appears in the 2021 edition of TODAY’s Woman. Read the full publication here.