Hungry and desperate days

Monday, April 23, 2018

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This is part two of the story of a woman who says she has finally found the strength to talk about the abuse she endured from an early age, surviving horrors unimaginable to today becoming a manager and CEO. Though she still doesn't have the courage to reveal her identity publicly, she hopes that her story can encourage others who are hurting, that there's always hope at the end of struggle and heartache.

AFTER my failed suicide attempt I found comfort in writing letters and reading my grandma's old hymn books. I never told anyone that I'd tried to kill myself.

Soon I had a large collection of letters and I knew all the church hymns — I found peace in them. Also, I had two dads, and in a strange way I found this to be a blessing. I spent time with them both and I loved getting their sweet treats. I had a granddad who treated me well, and my uncles also provided comfort as I could go to their houses and share jokes with them for hours.

My pain started again when I was told I would be spending summers with my mother. As soon as I got to her house she unloaded her children on me and I quickly became their caregiver. She would leave us without food, and often with just a small change of $10 or $20. I quickly had to learn how to cook and take care of babies.

Some neighbours who saw our plight offered us some food. But people wondered and asked who I was, as my mother had told everyone that she only had three children. I couldn't wait for the summers to be over. I thought that by taking care of my siblings she would somehow like me, but she never did.

My mother turned down all invitations to attend any event that pertained to me. She never came to any of my school graduations. She always reminded us that she had her life to live. My grandma, however, was always there and encouraged me to press forward.

I did well in school and when my grandma would boast about this, the rest of the family was not happy. I started to face lots of envy and jealousy. One cousin in particular hated me and she made it no secret.

Soon the time came for me to sit my CXC exams. We did not have the first dollar to pay for the exams, but grandma encouraged me to study anyway as she was sure I would be doing the exams. She began to ask around for help. My mom was the first to decline, stating that she had her three angels to care for. Luckily a Government programme sponsored four exams.

The results were a surprise, even to my grandma — I was successful in all my exams. This was a milestone for me because during my study and preparation for exams I had no computer and doing the SBAs (School-Based Assessments) were difficult. My grandma would accompany me to people's houses begging them to let me use their computer and of course she stayed with me until the wee hours of the morning, then we would walk back home in the pitch darkness. My uncle also supported me and told me he would type my scripts for me at his office.

My graduation was as much for me as it was for my grandma. She beamed with pride and of course she went all the way to ensure I looked stunning. Naturally my mom was absent but my grandma still ensured that she got the news.

My grandma quickly planned my next step and assured me I was going to sixth form. Again, she sought help, and she continued to pay her yearly Jamaican “partner”. When she got her savings she paid for my sixth form education.

Two years went by in sixth form with the usual struggle — hungry and desperate days. But I could always count on grandma's fried dumplings when things got really bad. I made it through with prayer and relying on my grandma's steadfast belief in me. It ended once again in great success!

Next week: A rape... and redemption

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