WHO says we can't rise above our circumstances - no matter how depressing the situations have been?Nadine Martin is a single mother of five children who has triumphed over many dark moments in her life, by using education and forgiveness to overcome it all.
This is the story of a 36-year-old woman who was molested, raped, rejected by her father, encouraged to get involved with men by her own mother and who suffered from an eating disorder. However, after giving birth to five children, fathered by four men, she decided she wasn't going to stay in the slum. It was time to pick herself up and move on.
To support her children, Martin did any odd job she could find just to put food on their table."I have done so many jobs, but never found the one I wanted," she admitted. And what she now wants is to be an early childhood educator, someone who would impact positively on the lives of children. But her dream doesn't stop there.
She also wants to be a motivational speaker, going into schools and speaking to girls and their parents on the value of self and the importance of being there for their children. She has already started in the pursuit of her dream by doing an Early Childhood Education coarse at the HEART Trust NTA, but she admits that she still has some way to go.
Born in Liguanea, St Andrew, Martin grew up in an environment she described as argument-heavy. She noted that she was not really close to anyone in her family since everyone was always fighting with each other, while her mother was too busy working out and trying to put food on the table for the six children in the home as none of the four fathers stuck around.Her dad would visit from time to time, which provided some amount of joy for her as a child.
"A mother growing a child, especially a girl, is not as important as a father," she tells all woman. "I believe every girl child should have a father around. I believe the first 'I love you' should come from daddy."
But sadly, at the age of 12 her father removed himself completely from her life, creating a void within her that she has since tried to fill."I just wanted to be around my dad. I was the exploring type. He used to milk goat and take me to the country. I liked that," she says.Martin's mother was working on shifts. She recalls one night when she was four, and her mom was on the 10:00 pm to 6:00 am shift and they were left in the care of her mom's male friend. He was a close friend of the family, but would insert his fingers in her vagina and would suck on her breast.
At this tender age she was fearful of what would happen if she told her mother and so she didn't. The molestation continued for a year until the man moved away. She was never the same again.Then at age 10 when her body began to mature, she became very conscious of her appearance and hated what she saw when she looked in the mirror. One day, another family friend stopped by and asked if they wanted him to get them KFC.
They all agreed. Only, he told her mother, Martin would have to accompany him. Her mother agreed. However, instead of going straight for the chicken, the man drove to his house and told the child that he had to pick up the money.
He took her inside and pulled down her clothes. He then tried to enter her, but she was determined that he wouldn't. She recalls clutching his penis, and even now she isn't sure how it happened, but he discharged there and then. He then took her to purchase the food and took her home. Again Martin said nothing to her mother for fear of not being believed, but nonetheless blamed her mother as she felt she should never have consented to allowing her 10-year-old child to go out alone with this man.
Four years later, and now a student at Excelsior High, Martin suffered from an eating disorder known as stress eating, where she started eating sweet foods continually, in an effort to drown out the emotional pain she was feeling. She soon began to get fat.A year later, at age 15, she went to the Ministry of Agriculture to meet another schoolmate to finish an assignment they had been given. She was cornered by a security guard with a dog, forced into a room and raped. She began bleeding and he stood by and watched her as she tried to bathe.
"Before I left, he told me to hand over a chain I was wearing that my aunt living abroad had given me," she says.In an effort to rid herself of the emotional pain, she got deeper into stress eating and got fatter.
"I became scared of men. I turned into a Tomboy who was doing my own thing. I was rebellious and going to game shops, walking in Mona and just staying out all night," she says.At 16 she had her first child.
It was for a 21-year-old man she had met. He owned a bicycle and she wanted to ride it. However, in order to do so she had to provide him with girls. This she did, until one day she ran out of girls to give to him.
"Since I had no more girls to give him, I just figured I was next," she says. "I discovered that when I was having sex I felt closeness to the man. My mother never hugged me and my father despised me."She continued attending school until she was six months into her pregnancy. This was also when her mother found out.
Much to her surprise, the man she was pregnant for declared that the child was not his. She didn't know what to do. She visited the family doctor who told her to take along $500 and he would abort the child. She couldn't do it, and that child is now 20.
Martin was left to raise the child with her mother and a close friend of the family. But her mother died when the baby was three.At 21 she had her second child, this time for an old school friend who had come back into her life. When she was seven months pregnant, he migrated. After a year, she decided that the long distance relationship wasn't working out, so she got involved with someone else. This was the beginning of seven years of physical and verbal abuse.
"In spite of the abuse, at the end of the day, I still wanted him," she says. "He reminded me so much of my father..."After giving him two children and seven years of her life, they parted.
She now had four children to care for on her own. Martin turned to the church, not knowing where else to go."The church started helping me, but you have to conform to their belief while you as an individual wanted to express yourself," she says. "But I believe my life was my fault. They gave me material things, but nothing to build my character. I wanted something to build my character. I was in church, but still lonely and struggling with the flesh. I met this other man who lived up the road [from where I lived]. But even though he was living so close, I took a long route to get to him just to avoid suspicion."
While still in church she had the fifth child. "I told the pastor I was pregnant and begged him not to tell anyone. But he told everybody. So I started stress eating again," she says.She left that church and starting soul searching, only truly finding herself after meeting business and life coach Christine Morris, who has helped change her outlook on her past, her present and her future, and who has helped her to come to terms with herself.Morris admits that Martin has come a long way since they met two years ago. "She has grown.
When I first met her, she didn't like herself. Now she does. She wasn't doing anything at the time, but she went on to complete the Early Childhood Education course. And she now has a strong faith in God," the life coach says.
But even though Martin has done the course, she is still finding it difficult to get a job in that field. However, today, even though she does not have a permanent job, she loves herself and her life and looks back without shame or remorse.Martin noted too, that the heart of healing for her has been forgiveness - forgiving and making peace with those who have wronged her.
She said there is hope for the lives of others to get better if they just put their minds to it and depend on God to carry them through."I am more careful with my own kids. I have made mistakes, but I learn from my mistakes and the mistakes that I saw my mother made," she says. "I have learnt to forgive."