|Two sisters, St Jude’s grads, relate their rise from poverty |
By Rachael Espinet Tuesday, February 18 2014
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INFORMAL CHAT: The two sisters, Patrice, second from left, and Adasha, second from right, chat with Minister Clifton de Coteau from the Ministry of Ge...
Patrice and Adasha Norton were removed from their mother’s care by the Point Fortin Police in 1997, and taken to St Jude’s School for Girls. The sisters spent almost the first decade of their lives hungry, without proper care and no real education, but through St Jude’s they now have stable careers.
This testimony was told yesterday by the two sisters, Patrice and Adasha, who told the students of the St Jude’s School for Girls and St Dominic’s School for Boys at the St Dominic’s School during a visit by Clifton de Coteau, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development. “We lived in a shack with no water, and no electricity.
Our mom would disappear. We would be so hungry we would drink water for days, or if there was a fruit tree, we would eat from that,” Patrice recalled.
Patrice arrived at St Jude’s when she was 11, and her sister, Adasha then was nine years old, and they had to learn basic English and the alphabet because they had no formal education before.
“Our mother used to say if I could have, I would have gotten an education. So, at the age of 11, I started A-B-C classes. In two years I did post-primary, and went on to St Martin’s Girl’s RC,” Patrice said. Patrice recalled one day having a conversation with another student about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
One girl said she wanted to be an auditor. Though at 11 years old Patrice did not understand what it meant to be an auditor, she made up her mind to become one. Patrice left St Jude’s in 2004, graduating with seven passes.
Determined to become an auditor, she went to Malick Secondary School to do her A’Levels. She entered the University of the West Indies in 2006, and graduated in 2009. Now, she is a certified auditor.
“Without St Jude’s, I would not be so successful. I would not like to think where Adasha and I would have been now, if it was not for St Jude’s,” Patrice said. Her sister Adasha, shared the same sentiments.
Adasha said though she is not “academically inclined” like her sister. She found her success through sports.
Adasha played cricket, netball and table tennis, while she was at St Jude’s.
“Learning to read and write over again at the age of ten, was not easy. I picked up netball, cricket and table tennis. I was really good at sports,” Adasha said.
Through table tennis she got a scholarship to go to St Martin’s. She even went to Grenada, and St Vincent for tournaments.
In 2005 Adasha left St Jude’s, and in 2006 she joined the National Junior Netball team. Aside from sports, Adasha took part in dancing, the choir and steel pan performances.
“Every little opportunity we had in St Jude’s, we took it,” Adasha said.
Now Adasha is working on becoming a Fire Officer, and is trying to earn a spot in the National Netball Team.
Gender and Youth Affairs Minister, Clifton De Coteau, said the Ministry’s goal in touring the facility was to assess the needs of the schools, and address them immediately.
De Coteau further said the Ministry was currently “re-engineering” the Youth Development and Apprenticeship Centres, to help train vocational skills. The Ministry is currently taking in applications for 2014 recruits for males, and a Centre is being established for females.
As well, a National Children’s Registry will be established this year for the benefit of children, and service providers.
“The Registry will provide a more efficient and effective method of monitoring child development, and assist service providers to identify quickly children in need of specialised support.” De Coteau said.