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Love your children

By Cecily Asson Friday, August 15 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Proud mother, Allyson Rebeiro, talks with Newsday about her daughter Shamika Henry's outstanding success at CSEC examinations while Shamika listens at...
Proud mother, Allyson Rebeiro, talks with Newsday about her daughter Shamika Henry's outstanding success at CSEC examinations while Shamika listens at...

There are many lessons to be learnt from the academic success of 18-year old visually impaired Shamika Henry, her mother Allyson Rebeiro, a school teacher, told Newsday yesterday.

Henry, a student of Holy Faith Convent, Couva, not only gained a grade one in Mathematics, a subject in which she could only get “1 out of 100” up to Form Four, but also secured distinctions in English Language and English Literature in the 2014 Caribbean Secondary Entrance (CSEC) examinations. She also got a grade two in Spanish, Music, Principles of Business and Theatre Arts.

An elated Rebeiro, said, “I want Shamika’s success to be an inspiration to all. Many children have done well, their results will be better than Shamika’s, but because of the challenges she faced, because of her disability, I want this to inspire people, whether they are visually impaired or not.”

An English Literature teacher at St Benedict’s College, La Romaine, Rebeiro said in order to succeed, young people today need continuous love, support and a “never-give-up-on-them attitude.”

And that is what Rebeiro gave Henry, who was born with juvenile cataracts, but who at the age of 13 was diagnosed with glaucoma and would later learn that the disease had damaged her retinas, rendering her blind in both eyes.

She continued, “There will be lots of children who wrote exams under some form of stress, but what she did clearly shows that you can succeed.” Rebeiro called for a return to the popular old saying of the village raising the child as that is what brought success to her teenaged daughter.

Rebeiro asked: “You know there is a saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child?’ It is that village that contributed to Shamika’s success — that village is Holy Faith Convent; St Benedict’s College where I teach; the teachers; the parents; the students; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church; the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Marabella; Jesus Deliverance Centre; Pentecostal Church — they all helped in one way or the other in her success. It does take a village and it could truly make a difference in a child’s life.”

Rebeiro, a mother of seven, said she always taught her daughter to be confident and never gave up on her as she taught her the fear of God.

“I taught Shamika how to speak success into her life,” she went on to say. “It is not just knowing God, but there are so many promises God made to her, that being blind cannot negate or take from her life.” An advocate for giving children the “Sunday School” experience, Rebeiro called on parents to learn to love and forgive their children.

“Love your child no matter what that child does, just continue to love and forgive them, just love them no matter what. We have to learn to love in spite of...although I know it is hard to love especially when wrong has been done. But just love and forgive.”

Yesterday at her home on San Fernando Street, San Fernando, Henry, was still basking in her sudden ‘celebrity’ status for which she told Newsday she was not quite prepared. Since her story hit Newsday’s front page yesterday, Henry said she has done several radio and television interviews “I am overwhelmed,” she said with a smile.

Over the last four years, she said she had learnt to cope with her disability, which she said will not keep her back from being the best she can be.

“It was progressive, so I remember everything — when I dream, I still dream in colour.”

Henry will sign up today at her school to begin Lower Six classes in September.

She will pursue studies in Management of Business, Spanish and Literature and hopes to later major in literature and become a lecturer in languages.

Among her hobbies are playing the piano, singing and writing poems. She said she also wants to learn to play the violin.

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