Sharon Isurdeen defies all odds to fill the family and professional roles

By Rupa Seenaraine

As many positive stories are shared during this festive time, Sharon Isurdeen’s journey is one that speaks to determination and relentless hard work in order to achieve those goals.

Perhaps, her husband, Uttamkumar Isurdeen rings a bell – the avid cricket lover who has been an active voice for wheelchair users across the country, ever since he lost his ability to walk in an accident some nine years ago. However, Sharon’s story brings a sprinkle of inspiration to those who may need a little encouragement in their daily routines or others who are confronted with hurdles that may seem impossible.

During an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, she told her story – of taking up the mantle as the breadwinner of the family while working as a full-time teacher and also, attending university.

According to the 35-year-old who hails from the Pomona Housing Scheme on the Essequibo Coast, she experienced a life-changing incident in the year 2010 which she distinctively recalled.

“In 2010, two years after marriage, my husband was a victim of a vehicle accident.  He was travelling to work as a passenger when a speeding bus toppled, causing him to suffer from spinal injuries which left him confined to a wheelchair to date. Things changed, a lot had to be adjusted. I had to take up the role of a father and husband. I had become the sole breadwinner of my family and I am doing my very best to maintain my family,” Isurdeen remembered.

During the time of the accident, she was a student at the Cyril Potter College of Education and despite numerous challenges, she chose to continue, graduating in the year 2012 with credit. This is while caring for her only child, Narindra Isurdeen, who is now 10 years of age.

As an agricultural science teacher by profession, Isurdeen said she was given a lifetime opportunity in the form of a scholarship to study at the University of Guyana in 2016. During the 2019 convocation, she successfully graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, majoring in Agricultural Science. Of course, this entailed moving from her home to the East Coast of Demerara to facilitate class sessions.

Looking back at her early life, the mother of one expressed that opportunities were scarce, and little resources were available to reach new horizons.

“I grew up during the harsh time in life where little opportunities were offered and resources were hard to acquire due to minimum availability of resources. But I cooperate and had I clear understanding of the struggle my parents were going through then. So I’ve developed a sense of contentment and make much with what we had.”

Now, she has insisted that this journey has equipped her to handle the bigger challenges that lie ahead. Of course, support from her family and friends has played an integral role. She expressed that the Chairman of Banks DIH, Clifford Reis, who would have sponsored her university education is also a key individual in her accomplishments.

“Having developed these skills, I am now capable of handle even bigger challenges. My greatest support is my family who stood by me until now. My husband and son, my friends especially the ones on social media, my students, and most of all, Mr Clifford Reis, who granted me a scholarship to complete my study.  I am so grateful to them all.”

At the moment, she said reaching greater heights is also in the future plans, “I want to further my studies.  I am praying and hoping to do my Masters very soon but this can be challenging financially [so] I am hoping that I get a scholarship or any other assistance that will help in this venture.”

Her advice to women who are faced with setbacks is: “My advice to everyone especially my ladies is that education is the key to success but self-discipline is the key to all accomplishments.  Respect yourself and others will respect you. Keep the right people in your circle and stay away from anything that will lessen your value. Always set goals and work diligently to achieve them.”

Sharon told Sunday Times Magazine that family time is essential to unwinding after a long week. It also brings the focus into play for the days ahead. Her son and husband, who are ardent cricket fans, would opt to attend most of the matches. She tags along as well.

During the holidays, she would collect items for care packages, which would be distributed to families in need. These include any packaged food item that can prove useful.