Thursday, April 18, 2024

Starting over

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Vonda Peters knew that she had to change her life. She was living in Guyana, surrounded by her family and raising her daughter.
“When I had my daughter in Guyana, I had the family support there,” she said. “I had her grandparents and my sisters.”
While the family support was great, in terms of helping her out, they couldn’t bring her happiness when she was at home with her daughter’s father.
“Whenever I came home I was an abusive relationship with my daughter’s father,” Vonda said. “So I decided before I killed him or he killed me to leave Guyana. I was going to go to St Lucia but at the last minute I decided to go to Barbados.”
Coming to Barbados meant that she had left her support mechanism and was now all alone. She had also left her daughter in Guyana with her family until she got herself settled.
But finding a job and getting her immigration status proved difficult, and eventually she was sent back to Guyana.
Years later she returned to Barbados, still trying to get her life in some semblance of order.
“I came here in 2000, but it has been a tough road,” Vonda recalled. “Imagine when I first came here I had nothing to sleep on. I had just my clothes.”
After getting odd jobs here and there and trying to get someplace stable to live, Vonda eventually met a Barbadian man.
“Then I met my husband and got married in 2004,” she said. “Then in 2006 I wasn’t feeling well; my stomach was feeling funny. I was working at a day care [facility], and I went to my doctor and he did an ultrasound and I found out on January 15, 2006, that I was pregnant. The baby came in April. I wasn’t big. I guess because I was struggling with my daughter I wasn’t thinking about baby-making.”
After having the baby, Vonda realized that her marriage wasn’t working out.
“Even when we got married he never gave me that support with the kids. It was like me just raising both my kids on my own,” she said. “I was trying to make ends meet, but I kept close to church and talked to God, just trying to keep the balance and strength.”
Since she used to teach in Guyana and got babysitting jobs here, Vonda tried to seek out jobs that involved working with children.
“I got a teaching job at a Montessori School in St Peter, where I worked for two years,” Vonda said. “Through that I made friends on the West Coast and these people used to get me to babysit.”
But it was one relationship with a family that changed her life.
“There was this little girl. She was developmentally delayed and she was slated to attend Providence,” Vonda said. “Her psychologist recommended that I attend school with her as a teaching assistant. So that’s how I ended up there.
“So far it’s been great working with her and being at Providence. At the end of the day when I come home I need to be a mother to my kids. I try to keep the balance with my kids and work, because I still have to help my son with his homework.”
When Vonda looks back on her life, she is thankful to God because she knows she has come from a long way since her early days starting over in Barbados.
“I haven’t regretted the decision I made leaving Guyana to come here. Because of the type of person I am I don’t really care what people say about me,” Vonda said. “I think if I was home I would have probably been a head teacher by now, but I haven’t regretted the decision I made to come here.”
While she has had her challenges, it has been her children that have kept her going and working hard to make a better life for them.
“Sometimes it’s really tough on me because I teach and also do babysitting for clients,” she said. “I put God first in everything because I know it’s not easy raising two children. I’m enjoying my motherhood with my son. My daughter is grown now, but she still needs me.  But I try to maintain that balance and not get too stressed out, and I keep praying. Once you stress yourself out you cannot function for your kids.”

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