Women around the world have inspired generations of people for centuries. People like Maya Angelo, Oprah Winfrey, Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Louise Bennett-Coverly and Hillary Rodham Clinton spring to mind. Recently I’ve been thinking of inspirational women, but women from the small but beautiful islands. These women have inspired me in one way or another and this feature is a tribute to them and their wonderful ways.
I start off with my very own mother, Zerena Clarke. If you really want to know what to do when life serves you lemons, talk to her! Her life has been through so many twists and turns yet she soldiers on every day. As children growing up, we saw her ‘trying her hand’ at so many jobs and she was good at them all. when I think about my childhood with my mom, the thing that always brings a smile to my face is the amount of people that my mom helped! I swear we almost always had someone else who wasn’t her child living with us or there would always be someone else that she was providing for! She raised us at home as a single mom, yet life was fun, chilled and relaxed. Being poor never prevented her from giving us important valuable life lessons. We learnt values like saving for a rainy day, doing with what you have, being respectful and to be willing to share, no matter how little you have. I am grateful for the many lives she touched, but most of all, that I got the chance to be influenced by her. If I had the chance to choose my mother, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you stayed friends with anyone you went to school with? I have, and one of these women is Mrs Yvette Martin, owner and CEO of Miracle Pharmacy in Portmore, St Catherine, Jamaica. Her pharmacy has come to the rescue of hundreds of Jamaicans so far. Growing up with Vetty (Mrs Martin) was fun. She knew my family and I knew hers, as we visited each other from time to time. The things I like most and admire about Vetty are her love of family and her drive and passion to succeed. I see Vetty’s family (including her extended relatives) as her life. I used to think that she spends more time at her mom’s house as an adult than she did at her own house! It just seems to me like she’d be empty without them. I know for sure that her family would be empty without her too! Mrs Martin has faced some setbacks and disappointments in her career but she just keeps her head high, refocuses, and plans and executes her next move. Not one to be boastful, she maintains her strong spiritual focus and this is something I admire greatly. She is such a good role model for all women and she really loves young people, always looking out for opportunities for them to succeed and flourish.
During my College years in Jamaica, I met some really amazing women who have gone on to do so well in life, impacting other right across the globe! One such ‘super woman’ is Arlene Harris. OMG, I can’t begin to describe what a super person she is! In fact, when I grow up, I want to be just like her, no joke! Arlene is one of these women who can take on a lot and go through a lot at one time but never seems flustered or fazed! I don’t know what it is about Arlene, but I so want some of ‘it’. Arlene is selfless, kind, and devotes so much to the welfare of others. To me, she demonstrates christianity in action in so many ways. Arlene’s family is very important to her and she has a way of reaching out and connecting with others too. Quite helpful even to strangers, I remember the last time I saw Arlene and her ‘super woman cape’. We were on the train going to New York with another friend for a girls’ day out. Well this young lady alighted the train at one of the stops and fainted right there and then, with half her body still inside the train, and half out. I’ve never been so scared! Well Arlene just calmly got up and pressed the emergency stop button while all around was panic and disorder. The train was quite full but had to stop temporarily because of the incident. Arlene was also the first person to the young lady’s aid, while others mumbled about how late they were going to be etc. When the lady came to, she was offered a drink by ‘superwoman’, reassured and encouraged to get herself checked out, and then they both exchanged numbers. Whether she has kept up, I don’t know, but I suspect she has, even once, checked in on her to see how she is getting on. Hats off to my phenomenal woman, Arlene Harris. I admire her really because she is one of those real, down to earth women.
Well I’ve taught in 4 schools in three different countries and I’ve impacted the lives of thousands of students in my 27 plus years teaching career. There is a small choice few women that I do keep up with from among my past students. This is because as women, they have made a positive impression on me for some reason or another. One of them is Sharlene Reid. Talk about fietsy! She is a small bundle but her touch is felt in several countries. These are what I admire most about Sharlene: She’s very strong willed, opinionated, friendly, professional, hard working, gracious and independent. Now you see what I mean when I say she is a lot wrapped up in one phenomenal woman! Sharlene, although my past student, has often advised me on situations that just needed a second opinion and I greatly treasure her friendship. Always quite the diva, Sharlene always looks after her self well and also does tutorials on make up application etc to benefit others and is so determined to learn as much as she can. Though she has had upsets in life, she has learnt to treasure her scars by learning form each situation. A Christian by choice, she sometimes upsets others with her reasoned opinions but is always quick to point out that ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion.’ Confident yet caring, Sharlene is a good home maker and host and lives a purposeful life. I think you’d struggle to find so much wrapped up in one woman, no wonder her friends think she’s simply amazing!
Brains, beauty and bighearted is how I would describe my next phenomenal woman who is also a past student. I met Tiersa Smith (now Hall) years ago as a tiny but confident first form student when I taught in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I was captivated by her from day one! She never stopped talking! But it wasn’t that annoying, constant chatting about nothing significant. She had a way with words and wasn’t shy in showing it! She was knowledgeable, excited, hard working and such a pleasure to teach. Back then, Tiersa had big dreams and planned on being the best she could be from day one. I overheard her and some of her friends planning their graduation with such intent you would have thought they were in their last year of high school (they were just in their first year). They even planned on colour schemes and all! It was Tiersa who voiced that she would love to be the valedictorian! I’ve kept in touch with this young lady over the years and watched her evolved into an executive, a wife, a mother and a passionate friend to so many. Tiersa is so thoughtful and considerate of others, so gracious about her family, including her extended family and willing to go the extra mile to make others feel special. What inspires me most about Mrs Hall is that she always leaves the praise, thanksgiving and glory for all her success, where they belong- with God. I don’t even know if Tiersa knows this, but she is a phenomenal woman in my eyes. Her grace, beauty, battles and triumphs are such an inspiration for countless women and proof that life is what you make it, planned and purposeful.
I am a firm believer that we are shaped and moulded by the people whose lives impact ours daily. Everyone is different but what a good mix when we all share our awesomeness (intentionally or otherwise), with each other. I would like to think that I have impacted others too, but today the accolades and thanks go to these five women who, in their own way, have made this world a better place to be in.
So who would you give your accolades to? and what gifts are they sharing with the world. It is time to give them some recognition.