A lifetime interest in education
Maxine Esdaille dreamt of becoming a nurse until a frank talk about blood changed her mind.
She then considered becoming a scientist, but didn’t receive much encouragement.
“Black women weren’t scientists in those days,” she said. “Someone so nicely told me, ‘You should think about being a teacher, Maxine’. So teaching it was. I love children. I loved the opportunity to help them go from here to there.
“I never regretted not becoming a nurse; I still don’t like needles or the idea of blood. I did regret not becoming a scientist.”
The 68-year-old was a teacher and then a counsellor at Bishop Spencer School and Warwick Secondary School.
She loves finding out what past pupils have become.
“I saw one of my students recently,” she said.
“He works in the Statistics Department. He was with his daughter who was in college. I was very proud to see him all grown up and living a positive life.
“Particularly with those that challenged you, it is good to see they turned out okay. Some of them have challenges, but most of them find themselves.”
After two decades working in schools, she moved to the Ministry of Education in 1987.
She retired in 2006 and spent a few years in banking before becoming manager of The Bookmart.
“This was one of my favourite jobs,” she said. “I love books, particularly thrillers and spy novels. I hate romances because the endings are always so predictable.”
She left the post in 2011, but is busy as ever.
A lot of her time goes towards the African Diaspora Heritage Trail, promoting black history and culture.
She took her cue from her father, Bertie Furbert, who was very proud of his African heritage. His attitude inspired in her a lifelong curiosity to learn more about black history.
“He was Bermudian but he used to say his family came straight out of Africa,” she said. “He was a tall, big, black, handsome man. He was a butcher and a bartender.
“He had such a sense of pride in himself as a black person.”
She loves sharing what she learns through the ADHT.
“It is a 24/7 commitment with me,” she said. “I tried to leave it but was drawn back.”
Ms Esdaille is also part of a group called the Black Collective, which holds a market on Front Street every Saturday.
“We wanted to encourage local entrepreneurs and give them somewhere out of the wind and rain to sell their products before they move on to having their own brick and mortar store,” she said.
“African-Bermudians have always been entrepreneurs. When I was growing up everyone had a store.”
The market is held in the same spot where her great-grandfather, Clarence Orister Darrell, ran a bicycle shop.
“He had a US patent for a bicycle pump,” said Ms Esdaille. “I only learnt about him recently.
“My sister LaVerne Furbert was at the Bermuda College working on her associate’s degree. For one of her projects she researched our great-grandfather. It was exciting to learn a part of family history we didn’t know about.”
Selling savings plans to help parents fund their children’s college educations, also keeps the senior citizen busy.
“It speaks to my concern for education,” she said. “I truly believe that every child should do something beyond secondary school.
“The opportunity to expand your horizons and see things from a different way is something important to do. If I can help parents find a way to do that, I will.”
In her spare time she loves travelling, particularly to England to see her son, Omari, and nine-year-old granddaughter, Kiemari.
“I am always trying to find opportunities for her to feel proud of who she is,” said Ms Esdaille.
“She knows Nan only buys black dolls and black books for her.”
Perhaps surprisingly, she’s never visited Africa. The cost of getting there is “probably the reason” she’s not been before, she said.
“I am hoping to go to Ghana later this year or maybe next year,” she said. “It’s on my list of places to visit.”
The Black Collective market runs on Saturdays from 10am until 6pm. Visit until March 25 at 135 Front Street, on the second floor.
•Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them.
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