Chantal Cornibert has the sweetest soul. Although she doesn’t have much, she laughs often and she tries to make the best out of her simple life.
She has a gentle spirit and her laughter sounds like music. It’s the loveliest thing.
Cornibert is partially blind but her life is far from dull.
According to her, “when I go to church, I dress nice. I comb my hair, I put my earrings and people in the church tell me they love my clothes. I like to sing and dance—I like to have a good time.”
“I can’t dance country and western though, it’s confusing. You have to do a lot of things with your feet,” she said giggling.
Cornibert relies on the kindness of strangers in order to get by. It’s her way of life and she’s okay with it.
“I’ve been asking people for help for a long time. Social Welfare also helps me. I have no mother because my mother died some time ago and my father says I’m not his child so God is the one who is taking care of me. A lot of people help me. They’ll give me money and I’ll buy something to eat. When I don’t have enough money, some of the vendors still give me food,” she said.
Some persons are not kind, however.
“Some people curse me and tell me bad things. Some will tell you that you should go and work but I don’t worry about these things. I don’t let it bother me,” Cornibert explained.
She finds solace in God and said that having a relationship with him means the world to her.
“I grew up in church. I go to the Cathedral all the time and I say my little rosary. The Catholic Church helps me get clothes from places like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army,” she said.
“When the Church plays music, I sing and dance. I like it,” Cornibert added.
She sang ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ joyfully after I asked her to sing one of her favourite songs. When she was done, I smiled and asked her to sing again. This time, I joined in.
Cornibert loves to help people. In fact, she dreamt of being a nurse when she was younger.
“I live with my grandfather and I take care of him. I wanted to be a nurse so when people get sick, I could help them. I always liked to see nurses taking people’s pressure and I wanted to do that too,” Cornibert stated.
She sells icicles by the Derek Walcott Square from time to time and although it’s a far cry from what she hoped for, she sees it as a blessing.
“Sometimes when people help me I save the money. I like selling by the Square. If there’s a show there, I’ll sit and watch it and I’ll enjoy it. I really liked when there was Jazz on the Square,” she remarked.
Cornibert is living life “one day at a time.” She stays out of trouble and finds pleasure in the simple things. To some people, she’s just a face in a crowd, but whenever I see her, I’ll smile, because I know she is truly special.
She lives life like no one is watching, and honestly, sometimes, it’s the best thing.
“I just want people who treat people like me badly to stop doing that. They should treat us well and have respect for us too,” she said in closing.