(By Denise Dias )
As Chairperson and Co-Founder of Help & Shelter from 1994 to 2016, I first met 21 year old Natasha Houston early August 2013 at our shelter for abused women and children. Natasha was discharged from the Georgetown Public Hospital only days after having her right arm and left hand fingers chopped off and witnessing the brutal killing of her son and daughter by her abusive husband Richard Lord (now deceased. Richard Lord committed suicide several days later).
From our first encounter, I told myself that this brave young woman who survived this horrific act of violence must somehow be made whole again. Throughout her entire young life she has suffered abuse from her step-father, and the abuse continued with her husband. After several months of counseling and healing at Help & Shelter, including day and night nurses (through the assistance of Oliver Insanally and the Guyanese Muslim community) Help & Shelter took Natasha to the Ptolomy Reid Centre to assess the possibility of receiving a prosthesis.
Unfortunately, we were informed that Natasha's injuries were too severe, were unable to assist, and suggested she went overseas.
In June 2014 I was requested to be interviewed by Adrian Pryce who was representing the first Guyanese publication of the "Lady" magazine. I took this opportunity to include a story on Natasha. I immediately forwarded a copy of this edition to my family and friends abroad, asking for help. My ex-Manager, Shirley-Ann Jaime, now living in New York, also forwarded the article to her Guyanese friends in New York. The response was wonderful. Natasha's amazing journey began.
On behalf of Help & Shelter and Natasha I wish to acknowledge the following companies, my family and friends who generously gave donations, support, and assistance :-
SHIRLEY-ANN JAIME - Business Executive - Sybil's Bakery, Queens, New York.
Shirley-Ann willingly provided transportation, paid utilities and endless miscellaneous expenses incurred on a daily basis. Sybil's bakery provided meals. Through Shirley-Ann's kind and generous spirit, Natasha's new life experience began.
GAVIN LOWMAN (Guyanese living in New York), arranged a FREE executive apartment through Guyanese owners TONY and GEORGE SUBRAJ of Zara Realty Corporation. Normally a monthly rental of $2,500 USD. Gavin also made contact with his friends at the Progressive Orthotic & Prosthetics (New York).
Doctors: ABE MATHEWS, ROB VON BARGER, SAL MARTELLA (owner), DANIEL BASTIEN (owner and amputee). All Worked tirelessly to provide FREE OF CHARGE a cosmetic right arm and a mechanical right arm, plus a cosmetic left hand glove. Total prosthesis cost almost $9 million Guyana Dollars!!!! To Abe, Rob, Sal and Dan a huge THANK YOU.
AMERICAN EMBASSY (Guyana) - Speedily providing Natasha's American visa.
Mr & Mrs RONALD REECE - Directors - Fly Jamaica. Without hesitation provided two return. tickets.
FAZIL ALI and sister ZALEENA HAQQ - Amaana Hands Organisation (New York).Willingly paid the Government Travel Ticket Taxes.
Mr & Mrs ELVIS DIAS - Provided accommodation to Natasha during her last few days in New York plus assisted SHIRLEY-ANN in transporting Natasha to her many medical appointments.
MEEZON GHANIE - Kindly accompanied Natasha to New York and back home from 22nd June, 2016 to 10th August, 2016.
Mr & Mrs. SHAUN MCGRATH - Directors Cara Hotels, including Cara and Altitude Quiz Night participants.
BEVERLEY HARPER / TROY CADOGAN - Directors Ansa McAL (Guyana).
TWINS MANUFACTURING (Guyana).
CECILE HILL - CEO, Travel Network Inc, Trinidad.
ALANA KING - Director - Toucan Industries (Guyana)
DONNA & BRENDA HALL (USA/CANADA).
CREATIONS LIMITED (Guyana)
DD SIGNS (Guyana)
CONNECTIONS TRAVEL SERVICE (Guyana).