Kenshia Richards was born and raised in Bequia. Her mother runs a small ice cream shop in Port Elizabeth, and her father is a plumber, and, as she says, “an all-rounder on the island.” She attended Bequia Community High School, where she graduated with honours in 2009 in Literature, Food and Nutrition. She was also the valedictorian that year.
Then she went to Canada. “I fell in love with the country,” she says. A friend there is a Personal Support Worker, and she watched on, intrigued by the work. PSWs offer front-line care, supporting the activities of daily living. They give physical and social assistance to those who need the help. It’s dignified work, helping others to live dignified lives. Says Kenshia, “I decided this was something I would like to do.”
There were a few detours along the way, but she always gravitated toward helping others. She returned to Bequia where she has been working her way up in the hospitality industry, first at the the Bequia Plantation Hotel and more recently at The Liming. She married, and has two beautiful children.
And then the pandemic hit. “It has now put a lot into perspective,” she says. Watching the news day after day, month after month, was an animating experience. She commented to me that there were so many people in the world who needed help, which caused her to think back on that friend in Canada. She decided to apply to a PSW program, researched the various options, and decided on one at Seneca College in Toronto. “I think it's the best time to do it, as there is need for persons in this field due to the world pandemic.” In a way, it was a bit of a Mr. Rogers moment. “Always look for the helpers,” he told the children in his television audience after the 9/11 attacks. “Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.” Kenshia thought of the helpers.
She was accepted, and on December 6, she’ll be arriving in time to set up a bit, breathe in and out, before getting down to her first semester. She’s excited, and maybe somewhat nervous. It’s the beginning of a new path, or at least a new direction in the path that she has been on. She recently commented to me that “with this college course, I will be caring for the elderly at their most vulnerable stage and time of need. Especially now that COVID 19 has more of an impact on the elderly.”
In the middle of all of that, happily, she turned to us. She needed a sponsor for her VISA. Yup. Happy to do it. She also fit within our criteria for bursary support, and we are delighted to be able to sponsor her financially as well. Kenshia is an excellent example of the kind of student we are here to help—someone who wants to apply herself to the service of others. No, she won’t be able to complete her degree in time to help those afflicted with COVID, but she’ll be there for much else. And where there are helpers, there's hope.