Posted on

WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Inspired to make a change


WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Inspired to make a change

Social Share

WE HAVE ALL HEARD the old adage, “When life gives you lemons . . ..”

So much so, that though it is an endearing philosophy, for some it has become a cliché. That’s because, truthfully, it is one thing to repeat an affirmation but it’s another thing to actually turn it into reality, i.e. lemonade.

When troubles come your way and you don’t have a clue how to deal with them or when your life takes a turn you never envisaged; making “juice” is the furthest thing from your mind. When Doriel Skinner became pregnant at 16, she felt the same way.

Previously, she thought she would become the Betty White of ballroom dancing in Barbados but her pregnancy changed that aspiration and in essence, life as she knew it.

Instead of competing on the dance floor, she was fighting to get her life back on track and with the support of family, friends and the community she was able to do just that. At the age of 17, she became a first time mother, got a job making pastries at Zephirin’s Bakeries and envisioned a new path.

At that time, she never knew the path her life would take would be one dedicated to community service. Today, Skinner’s staple involvementwith all things community based is well known. For her, this was important because it was the community that supported her through her trails.

“Raising my son wasn’t difficult because of the support of the family community. Back then everybody helped you raised your children and I would really like that see that back again,” she told The MIDWEEK NATION during an interview at her workplace, the Barbados Lumber Company.

After her first son Skinner had three more children, who she described as her life and they became the catalyst for her further involvement in the community. She has been involved in many undertakings including: food and clothing drives, voluntary service, and the St Michael North West Constituency Council to name a few. But, it is her association with the Service Alliance for Violent Encounters (SAVE) Foundation that gives her the greatest joy.

The mission ofthe seven-year-old foundation is to eradicate domestic violence from Barbados, a scourge that Skinner is all too familiar with. Though she admitted she was never on the receiving end of any violent encounters the 54-year-old acknowledged that she has witnessed such abuse. One of the first such incidents was in the early 1970s when she was just13 years old.

Skinner became a bit cross as she recalled witnessing her mother being abused by her stepfather.

“He had beat my mother and she was on the floor. There was an ice pick on the ground and what was going through my mind was that he did that to my mother so he has to be punished – and I stabbed him in the knee with an ice pick. That changed my whole life,” she said.

“I saw people I knew who were beaten and abused – back then it was the norm. The first time I saw [chairman and founder] Liesel [Daisley] on the news talking about the foundation and because of her life . . . I was seeing memories of my childhood and I was inspired to get involved. The next day I called them and I signed up and I started working with them because I know you can change a person’s life by telling them what you saw and our experiences,” Skinner posited.

Proud about thestrides that the SAVE Foundation has made, especially its championing of domestic violence legislation, whichjust last year waspassed in Parliament. However, the avidpoet and writer isnot at all contented just yet, she believesher contributions are far from being completed. That is why next year she has plans to reintroduce the Father and Son initiative.

Back in 2004 Skinner introduced the Father and Son pageant with an aim to highlight some of the many positive males in Barbados. The event has gained the backing of the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA).

Speaking passionately about the event, Skinner was convinced it is needed today even more than ever before. She believed that there are many angry and loveless men but they are superseded by positive male influences that are often not highlighted as much as their counterparts.

She said: “Most men are painted with the same brush of negativity but I think it is necessary now, this age of boys need to see the father figures, someone they can look up to – a role model. It is much needed.  Anyone can be a father, not everyone can be a daddy, and most of these children, that is what they need. They are missing a good, strong, positive role model.”

According to her young men are emulating what they see and so if all they saw was men who engage in destructive behaviours unfortunately that is what they are doomed to repeat.

“We have got to highlight the good men in our society. They’re more positive men out there than negative and why they are not coming forward is because the stigma is attached to men.  I don’t want to hear people telling me to step up to the plate, step up to your life- take responsibility and there are men out there doing that.

“This pageant will be a great platform to showcase them; not only fathers and sons, but uncle and nephews and anyone building that bond and instilling values in our young boys. This is important. My fight is to show men they have a voice and to show the public there are positive men in our society who are positive influences on our young men. I am a community activist. I am very involved in my community because my community is anywhere that I can reach,” she added. (SDB Media)