Retired pre-school teacher Shama Seurattan is a little lady with a big heart.
For the past ten years, Seurattan has dedicated her life to teaching youngsters the fundamentals of reading and writing. Now that she has more free time on her hands, Seurattan spends it taking care of the little ones and the not-so-little ones in Trinidad by doing good deeds.
Living each day with joy and eagerness in her heart to help others, Seurattan is often described by her friends as a modern-day Mother Teresa.
No need too great, no act too small, Seurattan often finds herself in the most strangest of places doing what comes naturally to her, stretching forth a hand to help others.
Dressed in a simple skirt and blouse and hair pulled back in a bun, Seurattan’s face is often plastered with a smile.
Not seeing the point of frowning, she believes life is too short to waste on scowling all the time. Seurattan considers it her mission to make others smile. At five foot one, Seurattan’s small stature effectively hides her fiery spirit and quiet determination to see a better Trinidad and Tobago.
With so many horrific stories splashed across the pages of newspapers daily, Seurattan says now is the time for people to not only see but feel that there are good things happening in Trinidad and Tobago.
She noted it is easy for people to dwell on the grisly stories highlighted in the media. The circumstances some people unfortunately find themselves living in; in the midst of all that there are those who are willing to stand up, reach out and make a difference, she said.
Not looking for a special prize or recognition, Seurattan reached out to the Trinidad Express about having a column dedicated to giving thanks and appreciation to the ordinary men, women and children that are heroes amongst us.
She said, “This idea came about from a column I saw called ‘Acts of Kindness’ in the Toronto Star newspapers. I realised people looked forward to seeing something pleasant in the newspapers rather than the terrible stories we see that can often bring negative emotions. I thought it would be nice for the Express to run a column that will be similar, called ‘Letters of Gratitude’. I thought this would be a great avenue for people to thank those who have been helpful and have done kind deeds for them.”
“Sometimes you do things for people and the people often wonder how can they extend their gratitude and appreciation to the person/s that have helped them in their time of need,” she added.
Originally from St James, Seurattan goes about her day as if she is ready to embark on an adventure to a distant land. With her trusty handbag that she never leaves home without, her travels have taken her all over Trinidad.
Just like a doctor, carpenter or electrician has tools for his/her trade so does Seurattan.
She said, “Inside my handbag I carry my hair grease, headache medicine, a knife, forks, needle and thread, insect repellent, hand sanitiser, massager, pins and all sorts of things that I simply don’t leave the house without. One day I went to Mt Hope Hospital and, while there, people were coming and going out of a door that was constantly squeaking. I asked one of the nurses if the sound bothered her. I proceeded to reach inside my handbag and get my Vaseline and grease the door. The squeaking stopped; however, the nurse seemed alarmed by my actions.”
She noted that the same thing happened when she went to Unit Trust. She was escorted out of the building by security personnel, but they did it with smiles on their faces, she said.
“Sometimes if someone has a need; without their asking, I try to help and fill that need,” she said. Whether it be food, clothing or something else Seurattan says she has financed the venture out of her own pocket to help those who are less fortunate.
“It is not about the money. If I can help someone and hopefully bring a smile to their face then that is all the thanks that I need,” she said.
Seurattan’s life is filled with taking care of her family, volunteering at Ostomy Association of Trinidad and Tobago, reading and doing various activities in church. In her free time, she also enjoys making kitchen towels.
She said, “An idea or thought will remain invisible as an idea or thought unless it is put into motion and becomes an action that is visible. So if you want to see change, you have to become the change that you want to see. You have to be the change.”