The Voice Within

I’ve been silent for too long and want to use this as an opportunity to empower and let other women know that they are not alone…..

 

My incident began when I was in Grade 10 with my boyfriend who I knew from Grade 9. My downfall in the relationship was that I never took the time out to know him; who he was, his  background and who his family was. Many times we don’t know the most important details.

I was stifled and beaten. After being beaten, I was brought before the mirror and further degraded by being told that I was ugly. It got so bad to the point in which I was extorted for money- my own boyfriend demanding money from me…..

There was one incident where I was beaten to the point in which my face was swollen. Few persons knew what had happened and others wanted to know what had happened to my face. I went to school and when I got there, some of the girls were jeering me. When I walked pass, one of them said:

“some a dem man a beat dem”.

My self esteem was depleted, I had to make up lies at times to not let people know what was going on with me when the signs were there- I was being abused. It got bad to the point where the police had to intervene and a restraining order was issued for him to leave me alone.

After the relationship I realized that his Dad was beating his mother.

 

A time to heal is not overnight…

 

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but I want to make peace with myself. Confidential people are always hard to find. In my experience, persons would be all concerned wanting to know what was happening between me and him and as soon as they get the details; go right back to him and tell him everything.

I must say THANK YOU to my friends Fiona Grant and Andrea Irvine for being there for me in such a tough time. They offered their support and also got me to see the guidance counselor.

No one wants to get involved in domestic violence unless it is public. We see this happening many times even when law enforcement is involved. We should be using social media to lobby against violence against women rather than promote it. The social construct we are conditioned to believe is the perception of men and women. Ladies must be seen and not heard; they must be submissive if not, they are battered. Men want to express themselves but are looked down upon as weak.

It is OK to say that you are NOT OK. Be honest with yourself, if you are not able to you will have problems with others and the situations you’re facing. Empowerment becomes evident when we talk about the things we’ve been hiding- our experiences and what we’ve learnt from them. I chose LIFE over everything. I could have died in the process of being that man’s girlfriend.

This brings me to the issue of discrimination for persons based on their age. The common misconception of adults towards  young adults and children is that we  no have nuttin fi worry bout. Preconceived notions like that have caused for some children and even young adults to believe this. Some persons are going through real issues, some are able to find help while some are not fortunate enough to get it. So many thoughts and emotions are bottled up for many persons out there.  The society we live in has taught us to pretend. Too many of us are pretending that things are OK when our world is falling apart.

We live in a world of pretense (patch work), where we fix some things to an extent so that we can ‘show face’. However there is a whole lot of unfinished business behind the facade.

 

I can Share, I can Inspire

In the same way that the mirror was used to damage I am using it to rebuild myself. Crying is not a sign of weakness but a sign of release. Life is like the seasons, and in order to gain a rebirth we have to loose some things. Just like a tree looses its leaves in autumn.

 

Tina Renier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stilling Standing

My first instance  in which I was discriminated against was when I wanted to go to college.  I was told that based on my background, which was a poor one that I was  not eligible for a Student Loan and I went there several times thinking that the next time their decision would change. The only thing my mother had as an asset was her cow. Coming from a poor background, that was the only thing she had.  She was told that it could not be used.

However there was a positive that came out of it and that was where I met a lady who was working at SLB at the time. She asked how many subjects I had, I told her 10. She asked for me to show them to her and I did and she took me to the Scotiabank and opened an account for me (don’t ask, I won’t tell you lol) and she aided me with everything  needed to start school. She gave me 40 thousand dollars which was half of my school fee; which was a start. Every month she asked that I send my grades to her so that she could track my progress, so that she could maintain the relationship of monetary funding to aid with my schooling.

Years later having that experience. I faced discrimination again when I was 24, and I went for an interview at National Recovery Service. I was teaching at the time and I wanted an extra job; a way of moving out of the teaching profession to go into something else. They had an opening for a Client Relations Officer and I went and I applied but I did not put my age on it.

When I went, I looked the part, sounded the part and then she asked me my age and I told her. She said no, she’s looking for someone who is in her 30s or 40s. She said I have all of the capabilities and what was required, I speak well and I have a track record of excellence but she said that my age was the reason why she could not hire me.

Can imagine how I felt after hearing this? Thinking about my attempts for a loan and finally getting it. Working to keep that money, getting a job and trying to better myself, but because of my age, I’m limited. It’s unfair when you are young and highly intelligent among your peers, yet when you get the chance to really test your capabilities, there are many factors limiting you. Sometimes you have to go down a level or even start from scratch to get somewhere. The beauty of it is when you are able to rise above your circumstances and excel in whatever it is you are doing.

I’m a fighter- I don’t stay down for too long. There is a God and he is my guide.

 

Camele Shields- Trainer at Hinduja Global Solutions

Mothers Day

On May 8, 2016, we celebrated the life and efforts of all  Mothers. Those that are alive, who have passed, biological and non-biological. I can imagine many of us shuffled to get the presents on time and got hints from our mothers on what they wanted and where they wanted to be.

I can recall many instances in which I’ve watched mothers conduct their duties and just stare in awe at how they did things effortlessly. They mess up at times, but watching how they fixed it is a God given gift to me.

Recently, there was a discussion about whether fathers should be celebrated on Mothers Day and this created two positions. One side agreed that they should be included; under the premise that they are single fathers taking on the responsibility of both parents. The others opposed because there is already a day for them, let us wait until that day, Fathers Day to recognize them.

Earlier this year, I was at my cousin’s baby shower and what stood out to me, was that they all spoke about one thing – Instinct. Most agreed that every pregnancy is different and the development between you and your child will also be. Your instinct will be your guide as to whether you’re doing the right or wrong thing, as you will know your child. What works and what doesn’t. However there’s nothing wrong with taking advice from others.

M

Hearing this, had me thinking about other things such as good mothers versus bad mothers. The one word that everyone can agree comes to mind when they think of mothers is nurture– mothers are nurturing. For instance in the book of Sybil where Sybil’s mother who was schizophrenic, inserted things into Sybil’s vagina causing her to be barren later in life. Many persons would think that Sybil’s mother was an evil woman.

Another instance is a mother who gives up her daughter to a man as a means of getting money, a mother who encourages her son to be involved in criminal activities as it promotes a better way of life and ignoring a child when they tell you that they are being abused by your partner. Being negative to the child when they make a mistake and  having your children sell on the street. Are all examples in which mothers would be considered bad.

Some of these instances from the onset we can see as wrong, however we must understand that it is at times the surroundings that mothers are in that promote these behaviors. If it is considered the norm in one area, it would be very hard to convince them that it is something that needs to change.

It is not easy being a mother and until we are in the situation we will never understand what it means to make decisions such as those. I find it amazing that on Mothers Day we place such emphasis on these hardworking women. That’s the thing- women over the years have been witnesses and victims to MANY circumstances. Throughout the years, I believe we as women have learnt to adapt to certain situations and when faced with peril we get an inkling of what to do to make the situation better even when balancing a job, marriage and extra curricular activities added to being a mother.

Mo

I believe that women are born with an inner lioness in them, an innate supply of strength that prepares them for situations that they may face in life. Even if they are scared, it does not show,  as they are able to mask it so that they can stand their ground and make a point. At that moment nothing else matters.

HAITIAN

I remember when there was a robbery at my family’s jerk centre and my brother and his friend was there. Our house is right next to it so my mom and I were inside. The first shot was fired because my brother ran off and the second shot was for him. At that moment, my mother ran out of the house, asking what was wrong not knowing that she actually talking to the gunman, because all she could think of was that her son was out there- it was his birthday.

Persons may say that the emphasis  we place on our mothers is too much, that it’s just a day and what’s the big fuss about. After the day we go back to our old ways. I recommend that we not limit these acts of kindness to just Mothers Day, but do it everyday.

Before you disobey your mother leading to your ‘I told you so moment’. Take a look at your mother’s activities on a daily basis. The time she rises in the morning to get you ready for your day to when you leave her to go to bed. This woman can never be repaid and her love is inevitable, undying and unchanging. Sometimes she may say things like “no go out tonight because mi dream”… at times it’s best to listen to her and just do. She may explain or may not after her instructions. However trust her  and believe that what is being said further enhances your safety.

 

Mother

 

 

Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. 

 

 

Ras Noah and the Hawk

Many communities are in a position where there is a lack of resources provided for individuals in terms of education, employment and basic needs.

The play Ras Noah and the Hawk is set within a ghetto community in Jamaica .The story starts where we see a group of community members lounging at a particular shop after the hurricane Ivan. Regardless of the high prices, they still hang out as there as a means of communication with the shop owner “Butcha”.  It could be that because of the success of his son Noah being able to leave the community; one which does not have any real progress for the average man. It causes them to stick around him.

The regular interactions, have helped to create an interesting relationship between the group. The street smart that drives Butcha throughout his life, shows in the way he deals with his customers. Though confident in his choices which may not be the wisest, people still flock to him for his products. It could be that the hostility that he meted out to those members, is a representation of what they get on a daily basis in interactions with other persons in the community.

A Butcher is someone who sells meat in a shop, however in the beginning we see where Butcha has become multi faceted where he sells everything to make some money after the hurricane. Though the significance of his name may have lost its meaning with his current position, he doesn’t cease to slaughter his customers with his “witty” remarks and bouts of ignorance. Like any parent he speaks with pride on what  he will do and who he can be, even though we the audience knows that some of these goals are unrealistic and not possible in his capacity. Though he may be considered ridiculous in many ways, it’s this drive he has that caused for his son to be in medical school.

The first song Noah tun Rasta; speaks of the expectations of the community as it relates to Noah’s successful return. The views of the community are shared views as it relates to the success that can help to remove the stigma and solve the problems that are particular to the community. He’s considered to a “gem to society”, worth praising.

Interestingly, this changed when Noah, the “lucky” one returned as a messenger in khaki, locs, slippers and flag instead of a stethoscope and white coat that is associated with doctors. The embarrassment Butcha faced was evident when his disbelief set in, resorting to even blaming Noah’s mother for his poor decision. From the song Noah tun Rasta, the community held the perception that rastas have  brought nothing but shame and disgrace to the Jamaican society. Him being a rasta will not get them the help that they desired as these dreams went down the drain and NO ONE can help them, so the blame rests on him.

With this change, it now highlights the calling from God- when he wants you he WANTS you.

We later see the perils he faces as the people have no faith in God. He being a man who has observed and experienced the wrath of God’s people even questioned God’s decisions. Like when the angel told him to “go lay down inna Hope Road and let the speeding Tata run ova him”. The reactions of him being a messenger is also significant, as it highlights how we are as a people. If there is something that is new that we don’t know much about, we become negative and ignore it.Most times our actions are driven by the fear of the unknown, and the repercussions of believing, until there is someone or an instance that reassures us that we have nothing to fear.

Patrick Brown brought provided some skepticism in the play which anyone would have with questions by Noah. One question was “where him a get board from fi make the Hawk?”. Yet regardless of what the message was, no matter how far-fetched it was as God’s humble servant and what God requested. His actions spoke to the choices we have the make and the obstacles we face if we want to be closer to God and do his will.

A very important factor to highlight is the decisions between God and his people. He was convinced that the people had forgotten about him and thought the flood was a good decision. However, when they had the opportunity to see him they were upset  as well as they thought that he had forgotten them. Some of the concerns had been expressed in the song Mr. Man; though some were not real issues, they still felt neglected.

With this scenario, we become familiar with the relationship between parents and their children. Where at times, the plans that they have for us and their decisions/ rules may be disregarded because we cannot see the logic behind it. Since we tend to stray, both parties tend to make rash decisions based on the repercussions. In the end they make up and live together in harmony. This was evident in the song “More Mighty than We”, where the people realized that God is indeed mightier than them and that they should worship them.

At the end of the day throughout our lives here on this Earth, for the believers of Christ, there is a God that we serve. Though we may not see what he has planned for us at times. He is always there for us and will never give us what we cannot bear.

 

 

 

I am an OPTIMIST

I remember when I decided to join the Optimist Club, as a way of getting involved in my community. Little did I now the impact it would have on me. Many times, we go through our days planning what we want for our lives and how it will be done. However, most times we forget that while working towards our goals, there will be setbacks. There will be the pessimism of others- even those who are close to you and this leads to a different outlook on life as we are deterred from the dreams we have.

It is always good to have reminders of optimisim and the impact it has as it allows for us to see the sunny side of things .

Promise Yourself…

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Being an optimist doesn’t mean that you are a happy go lucky person; it means that you are able to look at the better side of whatever instance that you find yourself in and accept what the circumstances are. If it is something that can be fixed, you do it. If not, you learn as well that there are some things that you leave alone. 

Optimist Candice Stewart said recently:

“I came to the realization today that optimism is not necessarily about being happy and chirpy and going with the flow against all odds.
Optimism is also about standing up for what you believe to be right and moral and true.
 Point is… don’t think that being an optimist also includes smiling through crap that people throw at you or try to do to you. If you are able to stand up for what you believe in, then do so.”

Optimist Ellis Laing agreed and shared : 

“Optimism is about being true, it is about being bold, about placing value on people n principles rather than expediency n profits”.

I agree with them both because at the end of the day life has its challenges. It can get really confusing at times and you wonder what is happening and even go as far as questioning your own existence. However, there is always that AHA! moment in which you have a breakthrough and things start to make sense again.

 

KEEP IT GOING

Believe me when I say I have had and still have those moments when I can’t be bothered with the world, the new day or even getting out of bed. Yet everyday I try, if I don’t I’ll be stuck dreaming and contemplating my next move.This is why every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I send a morning greeting to those persons in my Whatsapp contact. Why? Because we all need to have that one person who reminds us that we all have our problems, but life’s still worth living- you can still press on.

DON’T give up. 

UWI MUN Mental Health Week

The UWI Model United Nations hosted their Mental Health Week on March 21-24 with the theme Think Healthy. They believed “Mental health is in an integral part of our overall well-being but is not discussed enough in the public sphere. Recognising the importance of breaking the silence and increasing awareness, the UWI Model United Nations Club is playing its part through a Mental Health Week, March 21 – 24!! #ThinkHealthy” 

The week started with their video campaign that had persons such as Chevion Morgan express his views on living with a mental illness, how it has affected him and how he has been coping since. Having him, someone who is considered the life of the party share his journey, was a step closer to what UWI MUN aspired to achieve as it showed that Mental Health affects everyone.

On Day 2, the day of the Twitter chat, where persons could be apart of the conversation by using the hashtag #ThinkHealthy and give their input. Using 7 questions, the answers for each proved that the phenomenon considered to be taboo further justified the importance of mediums like the Mental Health Week, helping to remove the stigma for persons living with the illness and  their families faced.

When asked:

Persons replied with:

 

The activities continued on Day 3, with a Yoga session  where participants were given the opportunity to free their mind and body from all the tension they had before the exercise. The last which was the Symposium in Day 4, was informative as it was also emotional as persons shared their stories. Participants learnt on how they can deal with living with a mental illness, assist persons who they know who are living with these illnesses and how they can live on a day-to-day basis.

As a former Psychology student who has interacted with family, friends and strangers who are living with a mental illness, and trying to be healthy mentally. I believe that the UWI MUN achieved their goal of recognizing the importance of breaking the silence and increasing awareness in Mental Health. My eyes welled with tears when persons shared their views about their mental health, lines had been opened for persons to seek help if they were not sure where to go or too afraid to speak about their mental health.

Unless you’re in the situation you’ll never understand. Having this mindset can help us to respect the circumstances of others. I can only imagine what persons living with mental illnesses go through; it’s not only about the illnesses, it’s about your mental well being. What you think about when you wake up in the mornings, when someone tells you that you look nice but another person says you don’t. When your superior disregards your efforts when you know and there’s proof that you are working.

From my own experience; going through self esteem issues, the separation of my parents,  being violated by my step-grandfather and the repercussions that followed. Life will always give you lemons, sometimes you get cerasse but when you are able to rise above the issues, accept what is happening and make life better gradually. You then begin receive that peace of mind.

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

These promises are what I use as a term of reference and fellow Optimists can tell you that though we may face trails looking that this creed helps to make the day better. Being an Optimist goes a long way. Ever noticed how people’s behaviour change when you kill them with kindness?

Be patient, accepting of the changes that may occur in your life, have a strong support system, avoid negativity and smile.

 

Sources:  https://www.smore.com/7a9fy-uwi-mun-mental-health-week

http://www.optimist.org/e/creed.cfm