Back on the road to fulfilment
Two women who were struggling to make ends meet are now on the path to fulfilling their life dreams thanks to a Government programme.
Dawn Matthews and Norma Jean Daniels graduated from the Bermuda College last night, and both women credit the Community Driven Development (CDD) programme for their success.
Now Ms Matthews is a qualified nursing assistant, while Ms Daniels has earned a childcare development certificate.
Following the death of her boyfriend in 2005, Ms Matthews lost her job at the airport and found herself on financial assistance.
“I didn't want to be on financial assistance,” Ms Matthews said, “I wanted to get off it.”
She decided to enrol in the CDD programme, which aims to help unemployed or underemployed participants get back on their feet.
“It gives you confidence and motivation,” she said. “They really push you, they really are behind you, and you feel like a family. You are there for each other.”
Ms Matthews said the programme gave her the tools she needed to pursue her dream of caring for seniors and encouraged her to obtain a nursing assistance certificate from the Bermuda College.
The programme even paid the tuition for her second semester.
“I think that the CDD programme is a good start, and a good push,” Ms Matthews said. “It makes you feel like you can do something with your life, but you have to want it.
“When you take negative people out of your life, doors will definitely open for you,” she added.
Upon completion of her course Ms Matthews almost immediately found employment with The Aerie Foundation, doing community work.
This involves visiting seniors in their homes and providing whatever assistance they may require.
“I love my job, I'm glad I chose this,” said Ms Matthews.
“As soon as I put my heart and soul into this job, I saw so many blessings from every angle.
“I would just like to thank everybody that has been there for me.”
Ms Daniels, who previously worked as a taxi driver, had lost her self-esteem and was starting to get discouraged with life when she decided to enrol in the CDD programme.
She said the programme helped her realise that she really wanted to work with children, and gave her the motivation to go back to school to obtain her childcare development certificate.
“CDD gave me the tools I needed. I never had that chance before, being out of school at the age of 16, I would never have dreamed I'd be going back at 52.
“It was challenging, but definitely worth it in the end.”
Ms Daniels has been volunteering at three different nurseries since January, but is still looking to find full-time employment.
“Of course that's a little frustrating, only because now that I'm here certified and qualified, I can't seem to get an interview in that field,” she said.
Ms Daniels hopes to one day work in her own nursery.
“That was our plan from the beginning, to open our own nursery called Scribbles.”
She added: “My place is there, because I basically went back to school for that.”
Deborah Bradford, CDD programme manager, said: “I'm ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic.
“These women came into the programme 18 months ago, and they had no idea that this was possible.
“They are not traditional age students, so to take that step to go back to school at this point in their lives was nothing short of amazing and absolute bravery.”
She added: “They both did an amazing job and I am very proud of them.”