March 23, 2010
Vicky and Shanti flank Pt. Suresh Sugrim. Vicky has a four-year old Tania in his arms, while little Vikash nestles in his mother’s arms. Anil, six years of age, was at school when Pt. Sugrim visited.
NJASHM once more assists the unfortunate, in partnership with Government
LATCHMIN Soman, called Shanti, 22-years-old, and her husband Vicky, who is two years older, refuse to let their harsh circumstances constrain the path of success they dream of for their children. Their impoverished and tragic backgrounds and current straitened circumstances notwithstanding, they aspire to provide better lives for their children, and their every effort and all their meagre resources are mobilized toward this eventuality.
While there are many in societies who are preying on others on the ground that they are ‘marginalized’, there are others who are determined to carve for themselves and their families upgraded lifestyles out of their own unremitting hard work, personal sacrifices, and commitment to the realization of their dreams for their offspring.
This is the way families, communities, and nations have catalyzed development, and those who encourage strong, strapping young men to pick up a gun and rob others, even kill them in the process, to acquire quick and easy wealth, on the premise that they are owed everything without their striving to achieve, is doing them immeasurable harm, because only bad and sad things can evolve from this path.
Shanti and Vicky have chosen a different path toward resource-acquisition – the way of hard work, commitment to honest endeavor, and love and respect for each other and their children, because they have recognized how priceless a happy family is in a world where abuse – of substances and family members, is prevalent enough to be rated a norm, which is the primary cause of dislocations in families and the general society.
Shanti and her siblings were scattered like chaff in the wind when they were orphaned before she had reached the age of nine. Shuttled from one home to the next as a maid Shanti had no opportunity to attend school. One of her sisters was traded off, even before her fifteenth birthday, to an almost middle-aged man, who treated her badly.
The little home in which much joy and contentment resides. Shanti was herself being forced by her relatives, when she was barely thirteen years old, to work in a restaurant noted for activities other than the sale of food, with her pay being given to the relatives, so she ran away and stayed with a friend, during which time she was befriended by then 15-year-old Vicky, who was himself uneducated, having worked since a young child with a trader of dried seafoods. The two young people started living together and today, eight years later, they have three children – Anil, 6-years-old, Tania, aged four, and one-year-old Vikash, whom they are determined to provide with a good life, for which they recognize a solid educational base is an imperative.
Vicky works as a cane-cutter and, during out-of-crop season, he goes to sea, while Shanti augments the family income by rearing poultry and growing produce in her kitchen garden, both for sale and for family consumption, so in that way she ensures that her family has a healthy diet and sufficient fresh, home-grown food.
Vicky and Shanti along with their children. However, their tiny shack is situated on State lands on the Anna Catherina foreshore, which is prone to flooding during high tides, and it is during one such incident, when she had lost her garden produce and some of her livestock to flooding caused by overtopping of the sea defences during spring tides in January of this year that her plight, highlighted in the Guyanese media, came to the attention of philanthropist, New Jersey- based Pt. Suresh Sugrim, who organized help for the family through the Diaspora-funded New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc. Humanitarian Mission, (NJASHM) which is an organization that provides much help on an annual basis to Guyanese in joint initiatives with the Government.
The Government, through the Ministry of Housing, has made provisions for residents of that dangerous area to relocate to the Parfait Harmonie Housing Scheme and on Monday last Pt Sugrim presented to Shanti US$250, which will assist with payment for the land provided by the Government. The organization is prepared to extend additional help with the construction of the family’s home, because Pt. Sugrim says that his organization, while not having any interest in providing hand-outs to lazy persons unwilling to help themselves, has a sustained annual programmed for those who are willing to endeavor toward their upward mobility.
The only flaw that Shanti recognizes in her life is her fear that haemorrhaging from her birth control procedures may endanger her life and leave her children bereft of a mother’s care, as she was, otherwise she is very content with her little family and the life she lives, while still seeking to enhance their lives for the sake of her children.
According to Pt. Sugrim, he has seen this craving for a better life displayed in the many efforts being made by this young couple – unschooled and poor, who provide an example of what contentment and striving to achieve an ideal the honest way can do, and who can teach many affluent persons the way to realize real happiness.
Pt. Sugrim says that the cooperation provided his organization by Minister Priya Manickchand has enabled much of the success of his organization’ initiatives in Guyana and describes the Minister’s partnership with the group as a strong and sustaining motivating factor for members – both local and abroad, of the NJASHM.
The Organization is currently seeking to establish a housing project, in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, to assist such persons in need of help toward acquisition of their own homes.