“Sometimes when you want something in life, its all about you gotta go for it; it doesn’t matter what you’re going through in life, that doesn’t mean that you cannot move ahead of your challenges.”
That is the advice coming from Francelia Pompey, a Vincentian now residing in Toronto, Canada and one who said that she has had to overcome many challenges to arrive where she is today.
Today, Pompey is giving back to the children of her beloved community, but getting there was no easy feat.
She graduated in back in August from Humber College, Lakeshore Campus in Toronto with a degree in Social Work.
But getting to that point was not easy she says having started the program back in 2010, but the stress of going through a divorce, custody battles with her now ex-husband and working full-time while being a full-time single parent took its toll and forced her to put her education on hold.
“So, for me it wasn’t very easy,” she told ANN.
Her story began in the Freeland/Farm community, located in the Marriaqua Valley, and then she moved to Richland Park to live with her mother when she was 17 years old.
She got the opportunity to migrate in 1997, but little did she know, she would have to endure perhaps what would be the biggest challenge of her life – the death of her mother one year later.
Pompey’s mother, Chinita was killed in 1998, and according to her, the last memory that she had of her mother was when she (her mother) took her down to Arnos Vale to catch her flight.
Little did she know that she would never have another opportunity to see her mother alive.
Having to deal with her mother’s tragic death was difficult, she recalled.
According to Pompey, it took her a while to come to terms with her mother’s death.
“I didn’t have closure, I never saw any photos of her body,” she said.
Her brothers, especially her eldest brother, were always protective of her, she said.
“So even though he took pictures of the funeral, he sent pictures of just the closed casket and the burial, so I have no idea what she looked like.”
And for the next 20 years, it was hard to deal with the reality of her mother’s death.
Pompey said that right up until 2018 she could not deal with her situation.
“It was really affecting me, I couldn’t really talk about it – I didn’t want to talk about it,” she told ANN.
“Not seeing a body, it’s very hard, even though you know she’s gone, it’s very hard to grasp that concept that she is really gone,” Pompey continued.
And although she struggled for a while, she eventually came to the self-realization that she was not going to allow her mother’s killer – her mother’s former lover – take away her happiness, mental health, and overall health.
“He already killed my mom, he’s not going to kill me too and I found a way to find that peace within me,” she said.
She returned home on vacation in 2018, and among the things she had was a memorial for her deceased mother, and while at home visiting, she went to her former primary school, Marriaqua Government where she donated to the school’s library.
And while visiting, she said that she met three students who were then about to enter Grade 6 and whom she maintained contact with through the school’s principal.
They eventually sat the then common entrance examination and were successful, and according to Pompey, she sponsored those three girls throughout their secondary school career by providing school bags and supplies to each student saying that she did so in honour of her mother.
She kept on donating to different students but had to stop during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently resumed her donations to students for the 2023/2024 academic year, now sponsoring six students from the Marriaqua Government School.
“So, this is how I chose to get closure and at the same time, live in memory of my mom.”
She has even forgiven the man who took her mother’s life, saying that she is often asked how she could have done such a thing.
“I said, it’s not about him, it’s about me,” she said. ,
“I want that peace, my forgiveness is not for him, my forgiveness is for me to get closure,” she said.
Pompey said that she came to realize that she had to move on because she could not go on living in agony for the rest of her life.
And she finds peace in giving back to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines saying that there are enough resources to assist the people in Toronto.
“I think that in Toronto they have a lot of support, there’s a lot of organizations that help people in and around Toronto but when you speak of the Marriaqua Government school, they don’t have that support,” she said.
The school, she said, was more than her alma mater, it was also the first place that she saw her mother give herself to the service of others.
She recalled in 1979, following the eruption of La Soufriere and people from the North Windward area were being housed at the Marriaqua Government School.
“I remembered my mom’s interaction.”
Pompey said that her mother went home and gathered everything she could, clothes, food, even fruits which she gave to the children who were forced out of their homes because of the evacuation. “So, for me, helping out back home I always say that that would be my first focus to help my people before I start helping someone else,” she said.
Now, she is in a better place as she plans to do more for the children of Marriaqua in the future, but it would not be possible without her setting goals for herself.
She returned to school in 2020 and three years later, she successfully completed what she started 13 years ago.
“It’s all setting goals and you know, time management and making huge sacrifices,” she said.