The moving stories of Caribbean-born elders, that will continue to inspire generations to come are etched in the memories of many who came out to say thank you, at the recent, 9th Annual Community Salute to Yesterday’s Children, at St. Jude Community Center in Brooklyn.
The afternoon that began with an African Drum procession, and the pouring of Libation by Awo Ifaponmile-Sangogbemi, were all befitting the remarkable gentleman and women, who trace their roots to Guyana, Montserrat, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Victoria Dyer, who celebrated her 102nd birthday on Oct. 5, was born in the village of Cork Hill, White’s Estate in Montserrat. A mother of five children, 13 grandmother, and 12, great-grandchildren, enjoyed her work as a career market vendor.
After migrating to the United States 20 years ago, she joined St. Matthews AME Church, and today, despite her age, Victoria still leads a bible study group, and stays lively by dancing to the beat of the tambourine.
With a grateful heart, and cheerful spirit, Dyer, who comes from a family of seven sisters, and six brothers, stays healthy and serves her God everyday.
At age 92, Shelia Guy, a native of Sangre Grande, Trinidad and Tobago, and mother of four, is glowing in the light of God that she said surrounds her. The former postal worker, who loved kite flying as a child, has great memories of participating in social / civic and cultural organizations, including the Girl Guides. She was also an avid netballer.
A member of St. Jude’s in Brooklyn, Guy says contentment is her secret to longevity. “To live long and be happy you must be contented with your life and must have love in your heart,” she shared.
When it comes to fashion and style, Sybil Teresa Smith, 92, is always on point. The Guyana-born woman, lovingly called “Miss Teresa” was born in the rural region of Pomeroon, where canoe was the only mode of transportation to school.
Teresa remembers never giving up after getting her uniform wet, and having to dry off in the sun, before class.
After her mother died during child birth, Smith being the second eldest in the family of two brothers and six sisters, took charge, and became head of the household.
This experience no doubt, groomed Smith, and after becoming married at the tender age of 18, she lived an extraordinary life, before migrating to the United States where she lives with her son, Roger Gary, Guyana’s prominent fashion designer. “A life of total enjoyment is attributed, to Teresa’s longevity.
At age 91, Evelyn Weeks, reflects on her love of service and giving to others, qualities that have kept her alive to enjoy this ripe old age.
The Sangre Grande, Trinidad & Tobago native, says, “I love people, and I love the Lord with all my heart and soul.”
Weeks recalls enduring a hard life, nevertheless, she has fond memories, like the days when she walked to the woods to collect dry branches for the fireside and mud oven.
She enjoyed cutting grass to feed the animals, and learned to wash and iron to help in the house. These skills served her later in life as she earned a living as a domestic worker that helped cared for her children. Evelyn is a long-standing member of the Jerusalem Baptist Church, in Brooklyn.
The mother of four children, nine grand children and six great-grandchildren, she encourages young people to always do what is right and pleasing in the sight of God.
Eighty-seven-year-old Samuel Charles is bishop and the overseer at the Mt. Tabor Spiritual Baptist Church in East New York.
The Trinidad and Tobago native who worked as a painter and security officer for 25 years in the United States describes his early life as wonderful. He played bat & ball in the streets of his homeland Trinidad & Tobago, and became known as a good all-rounder.
Along with his siblings, his day started at 5 am for a four-mile walk to fetch bottles for his mother’s parlor, before walking another mile to attend the Canadian Mission Primary School.
His mantra: “Never use the word old. “I say I am seasoned. Bible says that anything that is old needs to be thrown out. I am not ready to be thrown out so I never refer to myself as old.” He advises that on the way to becoming “seasoned” it’s important to love purely and have fun. “It’s not how long you live; but how well you live,” said the father of nine grandchildren, six great grandchildren.
A mother to five children, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grand children, Marjorie Joseph, 82 who retired from the General Post Office of Port of Spain, after 34 years, enjoyed her life growing up in Sangre Grande.
The walk to school was only about 10 minutes for Joseph. But she enjoyed every minute of it. An only child, she had many chores to attend to before going to school at St. Francis R.C. Primary.
Having peace of mind and eating good, fresh food, are two secrets she offers up as a way of living long.
The delightful elders received, “You Are A Shining Star” award from Yesterday’s Children, Director, Glenda Cadogan for their outstanding contribute to their communities.
Additionally, they received, the Carib News Front Page Award, and Portrait Pictures by Photographer, Dar Riser. Certificates of merit, and flowers, courtesy Plaza Florist / Trinbago Express Shippers were also presented to the honorees.
Cadogan, reflected on the past nine years, and looked towards her 10th anniversary in 2020, noting that God never gives you the vision without supplying the provision, before thanking Colin Winter, Shirma Cadogan, Michelle Young, Gail Yvette David, Danella Abbey, Mark Bishop, B. Nandi Jacob, Jaael Cudjoe, and Khali Keyi, for making her dream possible.
Tracey Leacock and Sonia Daly hosted the event while Shirma Cadogan delivered blessings.