Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2015 Contents A9
Monday, December 21, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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"Plantain allyuh! Yam! Come
allyuh, green fig!" The loud shouts
coming from the middle of the
Chaguanas Market are from young
Marsha Bhall as she busily sells
vegetables and provisions to a
steady stream of customers.
One of the most successful ven-
dors in the market, she sells out all
her produce in two to three hours.
"I sell cheap and I am friendly,"
she said. When she is finished, she
drives to her simple, wooden home
in Chase Village in her Mazda 323
which she bought for $10,000, cooks
lunch and picks up her five-year-
old daughter, Maykala, from school.
Then, she goes to buy more produce
from a farmer for the next day at
Bhall, a 31-year old single parent,
is contented, she said. But it wasn t
Just a few years ago she was wan-
dering the streets of Queens, New
York, homeless and suicidal.
Her s is a story of an extraordinary
will to survive, an undefeatable spirit
and enduring faith in in the God she
She said she and four siblings
grew up in a troubled home with
their parents, but did not want to
say more than that.
When her parents separated and
her mother left home with the chil-
dren, it did not get better.
By 17, Bhall, seeking escape and
a better life, fled to the US.
She found work in America as an
illegal immigrant but said employers
would not pay her what she was
due because she "had no papers."
She managed to save some
money, though, which came in
handy when the financial crisis hit
the US in 2008 and thousands,
including her, lost their jobs.
But her money lasted only one
"My savings ran out and I could
not pay the rent or buy food. I ended
up on the streets, living off $1 a day.
"I bought a small container of
watermelon for $1 everyday for about
four months. That was my meal for
"I slept in parks and when winter
came rode the subway A Train whole
day and slept in it when it parked
up at night.
"Not all the conductors would
run me. One night, around 2 am,
someone came trying to rape me or
something. I ran out the train and
never went back."
Bhall said she began to have sui-
cidal thoughts. I started to say better
I kill myself."
But she didn t. She called her
mother in Trinidad, with whom she
had a strained relationship, and
begged her to buy a ticket home for
"She refused at first but eventually
Bhall returned home and began
living in the abandoned old, wooden
And she started selling hot pep-
pers on the streets of Chaguanas.
"I had Maykala by then and used
to be holding my baby in one hand
and a bag of peppers in the other.
"I had to be running and hiding
from the police when they ran the
vendors off the street."
Bhall said she prayed and fasted
and got a stall inside the market.
"The Lord gave me Q 11 in the mid-
From being homeless, down and out in New York
Marsha Bhall at her stall in the Chaguanas market on Friday.
PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
As we reported in
yesterday s Sunday
Guardian, Minister of
and Family Services
Cherry Ann Critchlow-
Cockburn made a
direct intervention in
the case of the Hablal
family, whose children,
despite their family s
dire poverty, did their
homework every night
Their story moved
many of you our read-
ers, and we have had
with close to 100 offers
to help. We are going to
channel them to the
relevant charities, who
will get in touch with
you and take it from
Thanks for your
FROM THE YOUR STORIES TEAM
Tell us Your Stories. Write to
firstname.lastname@example.org, and put
My Story in the subject title.
Write to us at
or leave a comment on
our Facebook page,
which you can find by
typing "T&T Guardian"
into the search bar.
The Hablals and your generosity
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