Sophia Montaque is St Mary's Parent of the Year
ORACABESSA, St Mary:
Proud mother of five, Sophia Montaque, is still on cloud nine after collecting the Parent of the Year award during a special prize-giving ceremony at Oracabessa Primary School in Oracabessa, St Mary, late last month.
Montaque was overjoyed to receive the award and attend the show, which was held as part of a week-long series of Parent Month events, hosted annually by the school her youngest child, Cellestina Walker, attends.
Speaking after the ceremony, Montaque told Family and Religion: "I've had four parenting awards and certificates before, but this is my first Parent of the Year, I'm so happy and proud of myself. It feels good to be recognised, and I know that God is in the midst of everything.
"That four-letter word 'love' is a big thing. I just think it's important to love your child and try and give them the best education you can. Whether you have it, yes or no. Even if you only have a little piece of bread and a cup of tea, send them out to school.
"You see so many girls selling their bodies and young men killing, stealing, and getting involved in drugs. And those things aren't nice. We need our children to be better educated so we can have more Portia Simpson Millers, Andrew Holnesses, nurses, doctors, and teachers."
Montaque, 47, remembers dark times when, as a struggling single mother, she had no idea where the next meal was coming from, and credits Walker's father with helping to transform her life.
She said: "For me, the hardest thing is to raise a child on your own and find yourself not working. Many people have asked how I do it, and I don't know. My eldest four children are aged 18 to 24, and it was very hard when they were younger because their father was in and out of jail, and I had to turn to my dad and mom. Where I'm coming from, I thank God I'm right here today, and if it wasn't for Cellestina's father, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you.
"My advice to someone in that situation is: find something to do. It doesn't matter what kind of work, even if it's to go and wash dirty clothes, or do some farming, sell some vegetables. Go out there and do your own thing, just so that you have your own, and so your child has something. You don't want them to go without, so try to be independent, that is the best thing.
"And try to be a good parent by helping your child with their homework, and showing a lot of effort, especially in the school. Discipline the child from home, and send them to church, whether Saturday or Sunday, because you really can learn a lot from the Bible."