Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
WALLENS, St Catherine:
JOHN AND Malik Vernon of Wallens Housing Scheme in North East St Catherine are charting a path to fulfilling their dreams.
John, 11, an aspiring surgeon, is the head boy at Time and Patience Primary School in the adjoining community.
"I want to save people's lives, that is why I want to become a surgeon," he told The Gleaner.
His consistent academic performance earned him a 93.9 per cent average and first place in his class last school term.
Besides, as he prepares to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test in March, he is not only working to be among the first-form students at St Jago High school in Spanish Town, when the results are published in June, but also for a scholarship.
"I want to be successful so that I can help my mother," he said.
His 10-year-old brother, a grade-five student, obtained an 85.7 per cent average to top his class at the end of the Christmas term.
"I want to be a math teacher, because I like to teach children and I love math," Malik, who has been in the top three since grade one, said confidently.
"He really loves teaching," their proud grandmother, 71-year-old Edith McPherson interjected, "because he gets the children from around the area and has them on the veranda, in the yard, teaching them all kind of things," she added.
Both youngsters who want to pursue their tertiary education at the University of the West Indies are optimistic that their dreams will become reality. However, they are sometimes saddened that their father is not around to celebrate their present achievements.
"Their father was a civil engineer. He did a blueprint for a particular job and, before he got the money for the job, he was ganged and beaten badly. A week after, he took sick and developed certain conditions and died in 2004. They were very young when he died," Pauline Stewart their mom explained.
Since that time, she has been resolute in her endeavours as she tries to ensure that the boys get a solid education.
Before she had her sons, Stewart, who dropped out of school at age 15, raised her four older children, all girls, as a single mother. She worked in several capacities, including bartender and babysitter, to earn an income to support them.
With experience in farming gained from assisting her mom when she was a child, and financial assistance from one of her sisters living overseas, Stewart ventured into poultry rearing, but Hurricane Sandy dented her business.
"I killed 175 chickens, each weighed about four pounds, or a little more than four pounds, and I only sold 100 pounds out of it," she explained.
"I had the rest on the freezer and when Sandy came and the light went, I wasn't able to sell them out quickly, so all the rest went down the drain," she added.
Undaunted, the 49-year-old is relentless in her efforts as she works to provide for her sons.
"I suffer from high blood pressure and other minor issues, so I decided to stay at home and raise chickens. I also want to raise goats and pigs and plant a few cash crops," noted Stewart.
With no funds now to restock her coop, she is hoping that a good Samaritan will extend a helping hand.
"I didn't get the best education that I wanted, so I try to give my daughters, and now I am trying to give John and Malik what I missed at school. I am also asking God to spare my life so that I can help them until they can take care of themselves," she told The Gleaner.