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THE IRON LADY

THE IRON LADY

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by Sheron Garraway

She is an example of resilience, and like the Iron Man, the statue, which stands erect in the capital, this 87-year-old remains an indelible part of the history of Kingstown.

This is because Matilda “Mattie” Lawrence has been selling fresh produce in the Kingstown Vegetable Market for 68 years. {{more}}

Last Tuesday, March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day the stalwart was honoured by the Gender Affairs Department for her contribution.

Mattie who despite her age still looks quite strong was presented with an award by Minister of Social Development and Gender Selmon Walters who praised the senior citizen for her hard work and for being a role model to other women in society.

“Today the streets are packed with vendors and government is trying to accommodate them because we recognize the importance of vendors to our country. Mattie is an excellent example of a hard working woman and we honour her,” Walters said.

But as Mattie listened to the commendations being sounded by the minister, she reflected on her days as a young woman who walked from her hometown of Questelles to Kingstown and back to make a living. She reminisced afterwards: “We didn’t have plenty vehicles in dem days, and nobody used to give you rides. I had my mother who was blind. She died when she was 90 years old and I had six children to take care of, it wasn’t easy.”

Encouraging the young women of this country, Mattie warned: “Behave yourself like me! Good behaviour begins at home; if you don’t have it there, you won’t have it anywhere!”

Mattie was honoured under the International Women’s Day theme, “Strong is what we make each other.”

But Mattie had been recognized by SEARCHLIGHT since 2003 in our March 13 edition, when we printed the following:

‘She lived in a wattle and daub house a very long time, even after her mother had passed away, and had to constantly be replacing the grass and thatch so as to have a secured place for herself and her children. Before, we use to sell on the ground, then they built the market before this one, we had to pay six cents per day, then it was raised to 10 cents, now in this new market they are charging two dollars per day.

“I have to buy the vegetables and sell them over, for I am too old now to go back to the land, I only make enough money to get something to eat,” she said hesitantly. When asked about the persons she had worked alongside during the past and present, she wandered off in thought, “they are all gone, even those younger than myself have died”.

“I had a hard life, a really hard life. Whenever I look back on my life tears fill my eyes,” she mumbled as tears filled her eyes. “It is still very difficult now but I am use to hard times; I would love the day that they (market authorities) stop charging me. I have been here since they open and I never once missed a day of payment,” Miss Mattie went on, showing the bag filled with her receipts. She ended by giving God thanks and praise for life and bringing her to where she is at present. “When you do good in life, it follows you to eternity and God will bless you,” were her final words to SEARCHLIGHT.’

That was back in 2003. This past Tuesday, now several years older, but still strong, Mattie remains a true ‘SHERO’ to all of us; a great example of dedication, sacrifice and love.





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