Beverly Elisa grew up with her six siblings in a one-bedroom house in Marchand. Her parents were dirt poor and she longed for a better life, but that almost seemed impossible. Still, she pressed on, hoping for a different outcome.
Her childhood was plagued with hardship. According to her, “My father was a baker. I got up every morning at 3:00 a.m. to grate coconuts for my father so he could make turnovers and then I had to prepare myself for school. There were times when we had to carry wood afterwards and sometimes we had no lunch,” she said.
Her parents struggled to put food on the table and the money they scraped up was never enough. Life got harder as time went by with no end in sight.
“We never went to school with school books, I read my classmates’ books. I cannot remember my mother buying a book for me to go to school except maybe the exercise books. I remember clearly going to school with my books in a nylon bag and to make it worse, when we came from school there was no food. After we came from school without food, sometimes we had to go to bed without food,” Elisa recalled.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have water and electricity. My parents couldn’t afford bags for us to go to school and I can’t remember wearing proper shoes to go to school either. We went to school with holes in our shoes,” she said.
Although her childhood was difficult, there were precious moments too. Memories so sweet, they cannot be forgotten.
“We went to Vigie often because we needed wood for my father to make bread. It wasn’t the easiest journey because back then things were different–we had to pass through a lot of bush. I liked going to the beach with my father, however, because that’s how I got my dolls. My parents couldn’t afford toys so I’d collect the body parts bit by bit—sometimes it would take me months just to get a whole doll or two,” she said with a grin.
“I played with my siblings so we had a happy life in between, but our life was hard. If we weren’t collecting wood, we were carrying sand, if we weren’t carrying sand, we were carrying blocks, it was like a daily thing. We had to help my father carry the materials to build the bakery,” Elisa added.
Thankfully her life has changed tremendously. Elisa is now an entrepreneur and a mom of five and she’s doing quite well too. But here’s the funny thing: one of her greatest disappointments turned out to be one of her greatest blessings.
“I lost my job not too long ago because of COVID. I was a housekeeper at a hotel and I loved it; I took pride in what I did. After I lost my job, I set up a tray in town. I sold different kinds of seasoning: turmeric powder, curry powder, ginger powder, etc. but it did not work out,” she explained.
“I did that for about two weeks but getting a proper location in town was a problem, because I did not go through the right channels. I was always in somebody’s spot so I had to move constantly. When I realized it wasn’t working out, I told myself I need to do something else. I became a warden shortly after,” Elisa said.
“I knew the contract would end so I was looking for a showcase but the prices were so high, I was wondering how I’d manage; eventually I got one. I started selling food afterwards– burgers, hotdogs, fish, local juices, tea, that sort of thing. Now I don’t have to worry about moving from place to place because I did it the right way the second time,” she said gratefully.
According to her, losing her job turned out to be the best thing—a blessing, and she couldn’t be happier. She loves being an entrepreneur– “I wished it happened sooner,” she said jokingly.
“It’s mine and that’s the most important thing; I wouldn’t be here today without God. I started with a table and a small glass case. One day someone stopped by and he asked me if I’m interested in renting a hotdog cart; I rented the cart because it was better, but now I have my own,” Elisa added.
The 50-year-old is proud of her accomplishments; she envisions a brighter future for her children, however.
“I don’t want my kids to go through the things I went through. My siblings and I never went to school with a packed lunch bag and we never had money in our pockets like other children. I’ve told my kids my life story. Thankfully they’re doing well and I’m very proud of them,” Elisa stated.
“I’ve been through struggles but I never gave up. My advice for anyone who wants to be successful is to get up and do something and most importantly, put God first in everything you do,” she added.
You can find Elisa near Constitution Park on weekdays (next to the Mayor’s Office)— look out for a green cart.