“I’m a survivor. I don’t roll over and play dead. As long as I have breath in my body, I have to provide for Jayden.”
By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
It was a perfect spring day as I visited the fruit stand of Velma Seymour.
On her stand that day, were pigeon peas, goat pepper, thyme and benny. Hanging from lines that wrapped around the wooden stall were colourful socks, tams and bandanas. As we chatted, a few passersby shouted from their vehicles, requesting lime and oranges. However, Ms. Velma went to great length to explain that she could not afford to purchase them.
“Sometimes I can’t find anything to sell. I look for certain things at the produce exchange at Potters Cay dock, but sometimes the price of things, I can’t buy it. Sometimes at the exchange, things more expensive than if you go to the boat and shop,” she opined.
An entrepreneur at heart, Ms. V has been operating from her makeshift Montrose Avenue and Wulff Road venue for the past 30 years.
The 71-year-old was welcoming and spirited as she conversed with me at her stand in front of Super Value. Nearby was her white van that housed many of her wares – the majority she did not display that day. However, there was one thing she was determined to sell.
“I must survive. This is how I make my bread and butter. As soon as you go, I ga sell these pepper. I aine carryin’ them back home. I soon start going to every car,” said the determined woman.
As an acquaintance crawled her car to a stop at the red light, Ms. V shouted in typical style, “Hey! What you sayin’ girl? You ready to buy this goat pepper?”
The resident of Kemp Road is no stranger to hard work. Ms. V has worked as a maid and even as a taxi driver in years gone by. She said she continues to work, pushing at her stall even more so for her 16-year-old special needs grandson Jayden.
“Sometimes I spend weeks away from the stand to stay home with Jayden. He has seizures. But I have to keep coming. I have to push because the hospital sometimes doesn’t have Jayden’s medicine. I have to find the money to get it privately,” said the woman whose grandson she sometimes brings to the stall with her.
Questioned as to who or what she credits for her survival, Ms. V hastily said, “Only God. He’s my sustainer. I’m a survivor. I don’t roll over and play dead. As long as I have breath in my body, I have to provide for Jayden.”