Plaintain chips business helps single mother raise Doctor, Soldier, Environmental Officer

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By Bibi Khatoon

For the past five years, Verna Hercules has been trekking the community of Kwakwani on the western bank of the Berbice River where she sells plantain chips, seasonings, icicles, mithai and mangoes –a job she has grown to love.

The 50-year-old woman was placed in a precarious position five years ago, as her four children, who had all completed their Secondary education, pleaded with her for assistance to further their education.

“They were asking me permission to go and further their studies but I was saying that I cannot really make it because of the money,” the woman told the News Room recently at the Kwakwani Empowerment Centre.

Verna separated from her husband ten years prior and moved to the community of Kwakwani.

The community – home to approximately four thousand people – does not have a tertiary educational facility.

“In Kwakwani, there isn’t anything much going on. You see more pregnancy and those sort of things going on,” she noted.

As such, Verna agreed that her two daughters and two sons needed to look further afield to make something of themselves.

One morning, she decided to start selling her major commodity – plantain chips.

The single mother told the News Room that she wakes up between 03:00hrs and 04:00hrs every morning and to fry her plantain chips and prepare her other items to begin her journey.

“I just start because I wanted to push them little more in the different fields by doing something honest,” the woman said.

Verna said she also wanted “him [their father] to hear that they’re doing well without a father to help them.”

Five years later, her youngest son is employed with Russian Aluminum giant, RUSAL while her other children are an Environmental Officer, a General Surgeon who is currently in China and a Soldier.

The single mother is urging others like herself to motivate their children to be the best they can be and help them to stay away from crime and any bad influence.

“I’m happy to know that my children grow up and police never pick them up from the road and they never steal and they’re very respectable.”

Known for her contagious smile, Verna said in doing her trade she loves to bring laughter to the faces of her customers and this has helped her tremendously.

“I love to make people laugh…I always bring joy to somebody,” she said.

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