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Personality of the Week – Carrie Fairweather

Hailing from the beautiful culture capital of Dangriga, Miss Carrie was born on March 28, 1933, to William Foreman and Esther Foreman nee Cadle. She was the last of nine children.

They say that parents and siblings always spoil the last child, but Miss Carrie says that her mother was very strict, insisting on etiquette even in poverty.

Her father left their home when she was only four years old to live with another woman and her mother struggled to raise them, Miss Carrie said. To make ends meet, her mother used to make cake and candy and she remembers roving from house to house to sell them.

She portrays her mother as a strict disciplinarian. Once you did something wrong, she said, you would have to take your licking?no begging pardon!

Now, she describes herself as unafraid and ?always taking responsibility,? even if she was not immediately responsible but somehow influenced the wrong.

?I?ll go and say it?s me,? she said, adding that she wasn?t taught to beg for mercy.

Even in her pubertal years, she said, she wasn?t into a lot of boys, so her mother gave her a long leash and she enjoyed her freedom. Among her sweet childhood memories were her exploits with nature, like raiding mango and breadfruit trees. The environment was colorful with the products of nature, she recollects, lamenting that Dangriga has lost much of her natural appeal over the years due to an erosion of civic pride.

?You didn?t see the kind of greed and separation as you now see among our people,? she said.

Her dad helped to teach her about persistence. He had a boat named ?The Unknown? and one day, he took her with some other people out near Long Caye, Glover?s Reef, which she said he owned at the time.

He stopped in a nearby channel and they began diving for conch. Little Carrie, then about 10 years old, began to go down and found out that she couldn?t touch so she surfaced. Her dad asked her if she got anything and she said no, so he told her to try again. So the second time, she went a little further, but still got nothing. The third time, her father told her how she was supposed to posture herself to reach the bottom. She followed his instructions and succeeded.

?That was such an experience, such a feeling of achievement!? she exclaimed.

She took that desire for achievement with her all through her life, with her number one aim being to get a good education.

She attended schools in both Belize City and Dangriga, among them Stann Creek Methodist School and Ebenezer Methodist School. Hers were the days when educating girls was not strongly encouraged. Instead, they were encouraged to leave school at standard six, get married and earn their bread. But Miss Carrie had a different conviction.

?I wanted an education so bad, but my father didn?t believe in that,? she revealed. ?He felt that women were not supposed to be educated. I used to go and beg him to go to college.?

She saw some of her female peers attending college and she thought that she should have the same right. Even with a partial scholarship, she couldn?t go because even though her dad had the money, he refused to pay; on the other hand, her mom just couldn?t afford to pay, but would have sent her.

She began to take secretarial classes at St. Hilda?s in Belize City, but her dad found out and took her out of school and carried her back home to Dangriga. She was about 14 then.

Back in Dangriga, she began to work at Buller?s Store. Nothing cured the lingering void inside her to be an educated woman, mother and wife. (Miss Carrie had gotten married to Lancelot McKenzie in her late teens. They had 6 children together.)

She felt that her true self was being suppressed and eventually she realized that she would not tolerate it.

?I wanted to go to school. I had no problem working as long as I was in school,? Miss Carrie insisted.

?I dared not think about being a doctor or actor. Yet I would have liked to. I was a woman with children, struggling. The uttermost thing in my mind was, I want to go to school; I must learn,? she also said.

At the age of 26, she ran away from her husband, who she described as very abusive.

?When I left, it was because he had lifted his foot and kicked me in my stomach,? she said. When she landed in the US, an illegal alien, she collapsed and ended up straight in hospital. She lost 6 pints of blood.

She went to the United States in 1961 and education was a first priority. In rain, sleet, snow or shine she made sure she went to school while raising her children.

?Sometimes it would be bad, cold weather outside but my desire for an education carried through. One time, I was the only person in class with the teacher and he taught me the whole session from 7 to 9:45.?

She still had no specific area of interest. ?All I knew is that I didn?t want to be ignorant,? she expressed. She also desired to mold the minds of young people. She did not end up in teaching, however, but in respiratory therapy. There were scholarships available and the interviewer swayed her to take that course.

In the States, she married Compton Fairweather, who she credits with having played a major role with the Freedom Committee in the 1960?s in disseminating information out of the United States Parliament about the 13 Webster Proposals?the precursor to the Heads of Agreement.

She would learn from whomever was willing to teach her and even the boyfriends of her daughters ended up being her tutors.

?On a whole, I guess with strength and perseverance, I finally succeeded,? Miss Carrie declared.

?The turning point in my life was when I had a breakdown after two marriages,? she recalled. Her father had beaten it into her head that she was supposed to be a wife and have children. But with her emergence from her marriages, she decided that she wanted to go into business. It wasn?t long after that she met Ellis Belgrave, her current partner.

There were several highlights during the course of Miss Carrie?s career. In Dangriga, she started a restaurant at the age of 18 called Carra?s. Her capital was $150, which she used to rent space and buy supplies. At the time, she was still married McKenzie. She made quick foods like panades, tamales and garnaches.

In 1977/78, she was the director and manager of a band called The Web. She also served as director of respiratory therapy Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. She was a partner in Cam? Travel and Tours, beginning 1979. In 1985, they began the 1stnon-stop flights to Belize under Cam? International Travel and Tours through Key Airlines. She claims the joint venture with Ellis collapsed due to sabotage.

In terms of her creative writings, Miss Carrie began writing poetry during her depression?what she described as an in-depth soul searching.

The 73-year-old retiree is in passionate love with Mr. Belgrave. She says of him: ?In meeting Ellis, it?s the best thing that ever happened to me. He is one of the most upright, honest, ethical persons I?ve ever met.?

Now she is burdened with an illness in her family, though her acting career has reached new heights.

?Right now, I am doing the No Matta Wat. I enjoy it. I would like to do something else, something live if I can. I am writing poetry but at this precise moment, my heart is with my daughter, who is not doing so well. I can?t seem to think straight,? she expressed.

Miss Carrie is very proud of her children: Carol Mckoy, Yola Robateau and Diane Robateau (both married with that surname), Gail McKenzie, Joel McKenzie, Lancelot McKenzie, Jr., and Pamela Fairweather.

She is not the perfect woman and she admits to her flaws, some of which she has worked to correct.

?I had a little vindictive streak, but I was able to go deep within self and eliminate from within me that which I didn?t like and mold myself into the person I like. I like to be as I am now.?

She describes herself as humble, not as ?aggressive and arrogant? as she remembers herself in the past. She said that she has grown to be someone of ?more depth; more honest; more reliable.?

But she still maintains this philosophy: ?If you can?t do it right, don?t do it at all???a philosophy she tries to integrate in all she does.

Carrie Fairweather is one of many Belizean artists who will perform in Lik It! ? a show by the Belizean Poets Society playing at the Bliss on Friday, April 7, 2006. She will perform an original piece called My Son, accompanied by dancer Rosita Baltazar and drummer Denmark Flores. She is rated as one of Belize?s most excellent performers.

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