TODAY, thousands of Guyanese will either visit or spend quality time with their father or father figures and shower them with love and gifts in observance of Father’s Day.
However, for one man, that visit began since Wednesday last and will continue well into tonight as his ‘children’ knows they have to get to him early because they are too many who want to see him.
Levi Lawrence Nedd, a biological father of two boys ages 13 and 17, has been the student affairs officer at the GuySuCo’s Apprentice Training Centre in Port Mourant, East Berbice, Corentyne for the past 16 years.
During that time, he became a father figure to over 1,000 children who are very thankful for his guidance for making them who they are today.
When the Guyana Chronicle visited Nedd on Friday afternoon, two former students were leaving his office. They were from a batch that graduated in 2015.
“We came to wish Mr. Nedd a happy Father’s Day early because we know he will get a lot of visitors later on and over the weekend, so we wanted to make sure we were early,” the students said.
At the hostel, students are required to live-in for the duration of their course, a minimum of two years. Many walk into the doors as shy, sheltered children, unable to fend for themselves as they were dependent on their parents.
For those who live in the vicinity of the training hostel or have seen the students in action, they would have never guessed that.
Instead, they would attest that they are the most disciplined, well-mannered and neatly-dressed boys and girls. They are eloquent speakers and always seem to possess some special skills in extracurricular school activities.
This transformation or outlook that others see is mainly attributed to the input of Mr. Nedd, as he is fondly called.
Being a former student himself, who graduated as a fitter machinist apprentice in 1979, Nedd said the person he has become today was due to the guidance he received during his time as a student at the GuySuCo Training Centre.
Immediately after graduation, he pledged to return someday and give back because what he was taught helped him to rise above poverty and become someone productive in society.
NEVER LOOKED BACK
Nedd took up his current position in 2003 and since then, he has never looked back.
Being the last of eight siblings and born in Stanleytown, Berbice, he grew up with his father, a watchman and his stepmother, in D’Edward village.
He was taught by Majorie Nedd, his step mother, to be a proper gentleman. She was the first major influence in his life and pushed him to be a better person.
“I was taught the proper use of culinary utensils, how to dress and behave etc,” he reminisced.
Being an ‘old-school’ gentleman at heart and being able to adapt and keep abreast with the ever-evolving technological age, Nedd was able to connect with his students and instill in them life skills through mentorship and ‘tough love’.
“As a Muslim, I am taught to lead by example and if I want my students to be someone, I have to first be that person and I find that it works really well. I was taught tough love growing up and while I did not realise it then, it was very important later on so I use the same method. I tell them I don’t speak with water in my mouth. If I have something to say, I say it and we deal with it there and then and move on,” Nedd said.
Apart from being a social worker, he is a certified coach of volley ball, football and other sport disciplines and has a passion for singing and the arts.
In his younger days, being a victim of poverty, Nedd had to entertain himself and others as he did not have money to go to the movies, concerts or dances.
Nedd is currently the President of the Guyana Volleyball Federation and has represented Berbice as well as Guyana locally and internationally at the sport.
Over the years, he has achieved many accolades and recognition for his work in the area of sports, social work and culture.
He also pushes his students to participate in religious or national events.
“I do auditions with each batch and you would be surprised that many [persons] have raw talent or [a] hidden passion for singing, poetry, acting etc and I encourage them to embrace it. The surprised or shocked response from the parents when they see their child up there performing is unbelievable,” Nedd told the Guyana Chronicle.
For most, being in the same job for over 16 years becomes monotonous but for Nedd, each day is new and exciting and despite having thoughts of leaving during tough times, it is days like Father’s Day that give him inspiration to continue.
“Dealing with people of diverse backgrounds is never easy, but everyone has a story to tell and if you can listen to that story, you will be able to know the person and meet them at their level and help them. I got a call a few moments ago from a former student in the US and his wife; she joked about being fed-up and sending him to live with me because everything for him is Mr. Need said do this, this way or Mr. Nedd said make up the bed like this, or this colour does not go with this occasion… those are the moments that you realise how much your few words meant,” the proud father related.
Nedd’s son, now 16, is a student of the hostel. His dad hopes that the experiences he had that helped him become a better person will be the same for his son.
“People want to change the world, I am happy if in each batch I can help make one person better. I have been blessed to have seen many move on to becoming successful but the real success is the fact that despite leaving, they still call for advice or just to check up on me and for that I am the lucky one to have so many children out there,” the training instructor proudly said.