One of the regular volunteers is René Oosterling (70). He has Surinamese roots and fills the packages that are shipped to the country via sea containers. “I was in touch with my family yesterday, they can buy less and less. That is due to inflation: things are becoming more and more expensive. The luck is that many people have a garden where they can grow something themselves,”
The situation in Suriname was already dire when President Santokhi took power in July, correspondent Nina Jurna said. Due to the financial mismanagement of the previous government, and the sky-high debt, the country is in bad shape economically. Much more money has been spent in the last ten years than has been received. The corona crisis was added to that. “
Prices had already risen, but everything has become even more expensive under Santokhi. “This is partly due to inflation, but also due to the increase in petrol prices, which makes everything a lot more expensive, including food and groceries. Salaries have not risen in the meantime. Many people are becoming even more impoverished,” says Jurna.
Moving because of the high prices
Sharmila Bechoe (50) is a cleaner and lives in Paramaribo. When we spoke to her in July in the run-up to the elections, she showed an empty refrigerator and hoped that the arrival of a new government would bring about an improvement. “But if I compare the situation in July with now, it has gotten much worse. Everything has become three to four times more expensive. I can hardly survive.”
Her salary is 1,450 Surinamese dollars, which is almost 90 euros. “That is barely 60 srd a day. A package of chicken legs costs about 110 srd. The cheapest rice is 42 srd. The rent of my house was 500 srd and bus fare 30. I am not coming out and now have to live with family. . “
Sharmila was a loyal supporter of the ruling party VHP, but it does not live up to expectations. “They promise to help you but they don’t do anything. I am disappointed in President Santokhi. He has given his wife, the first lady, five positions. She should be doing social work from her position but she doesn’t. My husband recently passed away and I am now a widow. I still have a child living at home, but I have to ask for help from others otherwise we will not make it. It is terribly hard and difficult. “
Food aid could be a solution, because many people do not come out because the food is so expensive, says Sharmila. “Around me, my neighbors, acquaintances, they are all having a hard time.”