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Tiffany turns the tables - Former ward of the state provides motivation to teen mothers

Published:Friday | December 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
An employee of Shades of Elegance and Bella Day Spa (right) doing the hair of a ward of Mary’s Child Children’s Home recently.

Last year this time, Tiffany Shaw* was living in a children's home and was the beneficiary of gifts and services provided by those who came to spread Christmas cheer to her and her fellow wards of the state.

This year, 20-year-old Tiffany is still living at a state facility but instead of being on the receiving end, she is now giving back to other wards of the state by providing them with free makeovers and using her story of triumph to inspire the less fortunate children.

Tiffany was among those who benefited from a free makeover when a group of beauty therapists from the Shades of Elegance and Bella Day Spa visited the Yadel Home for Girls in Old Harbour, St Catherine, last year.

She had been a resident at the home for six years, and before that, she was raised by three different foster mothers. The makeover team left an indelible mark on her and started her on a path she does not regret.

"I said I like this place, I wonder if I can get a work there?" Tiffany told The Sunday Gleaner. "So I asked one of the workers and she said, 'I am not sure, you will have to ask'."

Tiffany, who was studying to be a beauty therapist with the assistance of the administrators at Yadel and officials from then Child Development Agency, said she summoned the courage to ask the manager of the day spa and was told to send in her application after she completed her studies.

"When I went for the interview and the joy that came into my heart that I got the job, I was feeling so overwhelmed," said Tiffany.




Having a full-time job is a big deal for her, a young woman who became a ward of the state when she was only seven years old because she was often left unsupervised by her parents while they went to hustle.

Having a job has helped to provide some stability and her dream for 2018 is to move out of state facility and start living on her own.

As she assisted in doing the makeovers for the girls at the Mary's Child Children Home recently, Tiffany encouraged them that they could achieve their dream despite becoming pregnant in their teenage years.

"While I was doing their hair, my heart was torn. I said to myself, look, look what these girls go through. I don't know their stories, but one day they can be the next future lawyer or future doctor because all of them are going to school," said Tiffany.

"When we got together in a session and I shared my story, most of them looked at me with a sad face and I said, 'Girls, from there is life, there is hope. No matter what the situation is, not because you are pregnant, having a child doesn't stop your life here. Go for your dreams, go for what you want'," added Tiffany, whose next dream is to start her own salon, so that one day she can provide a job opportunity for disadvantaged girls.

*Name changed on request