The strength that struggle builds
Windsor Forest elder, Tulsidai (Samuel Maughn photos)
Windsor Forest elder, Tulsidai (Samuel Maughn photos)

Reflecting on strength and community in Windsor Forest

TULSIDAI is a remarkable woman who has seen countless trials throughout her over eight decades in the community of Windsor Forest. Tulsidai is the only name she was given at birth. She was born into a family that made life out of very little. Tulsidai met tough times and adversities at an early age. Born in January of 1942, Tulsidai has lived all of her 83 years in the community of Windsor Forest. She has seen a lot of life and the challenges it often offers. Her life experiences have shaped her unique views on life.

Rather than living in the hope that life’s challenges will become less or somewhat easier, Tulsidai believes that struggle builds courage. And with courage, all of life’s challenges can be met and dealt with.
After years of living in Windsor Forest, Tulsidai has cultivated quite a reputation as a well-known and integral part of the community. Although she admits that, nowadays, she never really leaves home, there was a time when she travelled and saw much of Guyana and the world.

As much as she has been adventurous throughout her life, she was always called back to Windsor Forest. One of the things that she loves about her village is quite simple that it feels like home. To Tulsidai, Windsor Forest is where she was born and she is surrounded by people who are just like her. This is one of the issues she had with travelling overseas. She explained that although she loved seeing more of the world, she missed seeing people who looked or spoke like her overseas.

She stated that, “When I was young, I used to go on holidays in places like Washington. But I did not like that because I did not see people who look like me.”
With the loss of her father at a young age, Tulsidai was privy to the trials of life very early. Tulsidai described her family as poor, and with the loss of their breadwinner, the household faced tough times. Tulsidai’s mother was suddenly the provider of the family, and as a woman living in Guyana at that time, work was not easy to come by.

Although the family was undergoing their own issues, Tulsidai reminisced about how they still helped others where possible. Along with her brother and parents, Tulsidai’s family chose to care for others. She explained that, “I only have a brother. But my father took in my cousin because she did not have a mother or father, although we were so poor.” Throughout hardships and times of loss, the family only strengthened their ties.

Tulsidai painted a captivating image of her childhood. She explained that ‘those days were not like now.’ Her family and most of the families in Windsor Forest survived by being self-sustainable. They farmed and fished and kept family values and each other close. “It was hard,” she stated. She added that, “There was not plenty of work. But we used to farm and milk cows.”

Although she did not have the opportunity to have what most would consider a proper secondary education, Tulsidai became a teacher. She told the Pepperpot Magazine that parents had to pay to enroll their children during the years she went to school.
This was an issue for her already struggling family, so Tulsidai ventured off to become a teacher at just 16 years old. She explained that being a teacher without going to high school was not particularly hard for her. She said she just did her best and wrote her exams, saying, “I took my exams for all four years. I just followed the syllabus and learned about the teaching profession.”

Tulsidai studied hard and educated herself for more than four decades as a teacher. Molding young minds across Guyana, Tulsidai dedicated herself to helping others. At 83 years old, Tulsidai has lived a long life and is adamant that she is in perfect health. She explained that she has no fears or inhibitions about living alone, never having had the opportunity to have a child of her own. Tulsidai has been a mother figure to countless of Windsor Forest’s youths.

This has crafted a unique bond between her and many community members, many of whom make it their duty to care for her well-being. Tulsidai believes that she has lived a well-accomplished life. During her interview, she shared that she has always seen challenges as significant throughout her life. She sees her adversities as relevant to her life and her development as a person. She stated that had she not had the challenges she had, she would not be the woman she is today.

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