The strength that is Marlene Dias
She has been both mother and father to her two boys, and on meagre salaries and odd jobs has made it work so that they could have a much better life than she did.
Marlene Dias says that life has never been easy for her, but she is driven by passion and a willingness to fight to the end.
“I have two grown boys, 19 and 29 years old – and I have been the mother and the father for them. The fathers decided from early that they wouldn’t be taking care of them, and so I had to take on both roles. Matter of fact, one of the fathers said he is not his child, so him nuh responsible.”
You can find Dias up to this very day from as early as 5:00 a.m. sweeping the street and then hustling as a newspaper vendor from around 8 o’clock to the latest possible time she can work.
“This is what I used to send them to school, to pay for CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate) exams. It was very hard, and it remains hard because you know your expenses increase. but the pay remain the same - and sometimes go lower too depending on the number of paper I sell. But I have to do what I have to do.”
Dias said there were days that it got so bad she had to keep her sons at home and send to the local church to ask for items to cook.
“Oh gosh, man! I have had some days! Me call them the roughest days of my life. I get paid every two weeks and sometimes I don’t get the money in time for them to go school on Monday. Sometimes for days my last son nuh go to school because there is just no money. I have had to call and beg people because me nuh have rice, me nuh have sugar…haffi send go get these things just so they could have it to eat and go to school.”
She continued, “I had to do $50, $100, and $1,000 partner for them to do CSEC subjects, and while one wasn’t successful, the last was able to get through.”
She said even though she still works the same jobs, she is happier now that she was able to use those small earning to school her children to the point where they are now working and sustaining themselves, and are even able help her when she is in great need.
“There were days I got really depressed: just feel like give up and no bother with nothing – but then me just pray and ask God fi the strength, and me just take time and do my little thing.”
Dias said because of her sacrifice, her sons have the utmost respect for her and are very protective of her.
Struggle not forever
“You see all the single mothers out there who are struggling like how me did struggle, just hold on and don’t give up. Time rough and hard, but be strong and no bother go out a di way fi get things. Just do your little much and push and go through. Just like how God help me fi take care of my two, God will help you, too.
“And to the man dem that don’t want to take up their responsibility: unuh must do better because woman alone cyan make baby. Them must learn to play dem role.”
Dias has hopes that she will one day be able to start a small shop and get enough funding to start her chicken-rearing business as it is not her wish to become a burden to anyone, but to continue to sustain herself.
“You know when you have children, they become your priority and you put a lot of things on the back burner. I feel like now is the time for me to make a move, even at 49 years old. I still want a house and I want to start my little shop and chicken business, and I know God is going to send help for me to get this start.”
This strong woman says she has no regrets in life but is happy for every experience as they all happen for a reason.