Single mother tells of struggles, sacrifices to give daughters better life

…as President Ali fulfils wish of young girl to seek an education

Armed with courage and determination, eight-year-old Tashmini Sewah convinced her mother to journey to New Amsterdam, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), to meet with President Dr Irfaan Ali with faltering hopes that they would even get to interact with him.
When they arrived at the Office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) at Vryman’s Erven – where the Head of State was hosting an outreach – the mother and daughter duo was fervent in their quest to get an audience with the President.
Their turn finally came around and little Tashmini wasted no time in telling President Ali of her struggles in accessing an education.
Tashmini is a student of the Port Mourant Primary School, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has not been able to properly continue learning since she has no electronic device or access to the internet to benefit from online classes. From time to time, she would use her neighbour’s phone and internet but for the most part, she was unable to benefit from online learning.
She told the Head of State of her struggles and her desire to gain an education so she can become a doctor. Within minutes, President Ali fulfilled the little girl’s wish, delivering to her a tablet.

Eight-year-old Tashmini Sewah telling President Irfaan Ali about her educational challenges during his outreach in Region Six (East Berbice Corentyne)

“I feel very happy,” single mother, Shelly Drugen told Guyana Times during a telephone interview on Friday. Drugen explained that she never expected that her daughter’s wish would have been so promptly fulfilled.
Her next goal is to find a way to secure internet access so her daughter can fully benefit from the device.
“As soon as I ketch mi hand, I gonna try to get lil internet to put on the tablet to do the schoolwork,” she explained, noting that life has not always been easy for her small family of three.
Drugen’s elder daughter, who is 18 years old, also needed an electronic device to continue learning. However, when they were making the trip to see the President, her other daughter was staying with her grandmother in Canje, New Amsterdam, where she would utilise a phone and internet service.
The 18-year-old is currently studying for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) since she did not perform satisfactorily the first time she wrote the exams.
Notwithstanding, Drugen is grateful for the Head of State’s intervention, noting that it will go a long way in helping the family.
“I gonna now try to help myself,” she explained, noting that she has struggled and will continue to struggle to ensure she provides a better life for her two girls.
Reflecting on her life just some two years ago, the single mother recalled working three jobs just to make ends meet.
“It was a very tough struggle, it was very, very hard,” she expressed.
At the time, she was living with her mother in Canje. During the day, she worked as a maid and in the evening, she worked at a restaurant. After she clocked off from work at nights, she would do laundry to earn a little extra money.
For Drugen, it was extremely difficult having to juggle the jobs and take care of her children, particularly ensuring that little Tashmini made it to and from school. She recalled having just one to two hours of sleep on a daily basis. “I sacrifice myself a lot,” she explained.
After saving up, the single mother finally managed to build her own house at Port Mourant, which they moved into sometime in 2018. At the time, the house was not complete. “We had no light, no water, no door, no window, but we still stay inside,” she explained.
When they moved to Port Mourant, Drugen said she started working at a food establishment. When the pandemic hit, she was without a job.
It was only three months ago that she decided to start selling chicken. However, she noted that business is tough since a lot of people are doing the same venture.
According to the single mother, her daughters’ fathers have not been very helpful in taking care of them.
When Tashmini was three months old, her mother and father separated. “Since then, he never pay attention and do anything for her. We at court right now,” she explained.
Her elder daughter’s father is currently remarried and living in New York. Notwithstanding, Drugen said she will continue to work hard to ensure her daughters have the foundation for a good life, starting with their education. (Devina Samaroo)