Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Sharmalee Cardoza: A blind mom enjoying the joys of motherhood

Published:Monday | May 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley

Women often speak of the joys of motherhood, like watching kids be kids, being healed by their joys, becoming a better person for your children and watching your little princes and princesses growing up to become lion-hearted beings who you're immensely proud of. But, who can be a mom? Is motherhood only for women who can see? The answer surely is no.

Sharmalee Cardaoza manages the Offices of the Special Student Services at the University of the West Indies, and she is one of the many proud blind mothers who have proven this.

She was not born blind, but after four months of her birth it was discovered that she could not see through the left eye and couldn't clearly see through the right. Efforts were made then to restore her sight; however, negligence led to a gradual deterioration of her sight.

But being blind has not stopped her from accomplishing her lifelong dream. Today, she shares a six-year-old daughter with her partner, Jermain Leslie.

"I always wanted to be a mother. I have been around persons who are blind and have children. As a child growing up, I listened to their stories about how they raised their children as opposed to a sighted person. And I think that was what built my confidence into saying that I can have a child and I can raise a child," she told Flair with an immaculate smile.

RAISING A CHILD THE BLIND WAY

"Sometimes I have to do it the blind way. For me, I have to be more careful. For example, at the breastfeeding stage, a sighted person can see that the baby is not facing the breast. As a blind person I had to use my nipple to feel for the mouth. And sometimes I missed so the milk would spill on the child's face and cause burns," she explained.

She admits that being blind and raising a child is challenging at times. But it's something she vows she has grown to love.

Cardoza performs most of the chores a sighted mother would normally perform in the home, except cooking. Duties such as washing, cleaning, ironing, all in the name of a mother's love, are her top expertise.

She thanks the antenatal care at the University Hospital of the West Indies for their selfless effort in guiding her to properly care for her baby then.

"One of the nurses, who bathed my baby, told me what she was doing and how to wash the hair and I visualised all of that. From the day I left the hospital nobody has bathed my child but me," Cordoza boasted.

PROUDEST MOMENT AS A MOM

"My daughter Ashanta Zahara Leslie ... is my eyes. My proudest moment as a mother is walking on the road with my daughter. As small as she is, she makes me feel secure because she tells me that water is there, or Mmommy you need to go around because a car is there," she said.

Cordaza wishes that other blind women who are capable of having children should do so before it's too late. She hopes to have another child in the future, or adopt.

"Do not be afraid to have children. You do not know what that child could become. They will benefit you. I have been walking with my daughter from she was about two years old and she never make me buck up yet," she said.