By Lakhram Bhagirat
Famous American comedian Wanda Sykes once said: “If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it.”
That is exactly what Patricia Punch has been doing for the past three years.
The 41-year-old mother of three has been continuously working on self-improvement and following her passion.
Hailing from Rose Hall Town in East Berbice, Punch has always had a passion for baking and cake decorating. However, she never found the avenue to follow her passion up until 2018 when she came into contact with the Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc which was offering baking and cake decorating classes.
The Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc is an educational, social and charitable Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with its pain purpose being to “Educate, Empower and Elevate”.
The Humanitarian Mission of NJAS Inc was initiated in 2005 under the auspices of New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc, with the sole purpose of serving humanity and helping the underprivileged to break the vicious cycle of poverty through education and empowerment in Guyana. Since its formation, the organisation has been able, through donor funding, to build a fully functional training centre in Port Mourant, Berbice.
The facility is being used for imparting vocational training and education to the community to help break the cycle of poverty.
“It has been our mission to serve everyone, regardless of race, colour, or religious affiliation. To further strengthen this mission’s vision on the way forward, we have incorporated a new entity called The Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc which is a tax-exempt, non-profit, educational, social, and charitable organization. This entity is secular with no religious affiliation and would make it easier for everyone in the community to seek much-needed help and get funding from agencies,” the organisation says on its Facebook page.
Through the Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc, Punch has been able to move from being a student to the teacher of the four-month baking and cake decorating course – a feat she thought she would never be able to accomplish.
She had a regular job up until she got pregnant with her third child and stopped working. However, always wanting to be earning and aid in providing for her children led Punch to start following her passion for food. At first, she started preparing hot meals and would vend at the bus shed in front of the University of Guyana’s Tain Campus.
Then in 2018, via a WhatsApp group chat, she came across a flier from the Humanitarian Mission about its plethora of classes being offered.
“I got word about the mission from a WhatsApp group and I went there and visit. I had a passion for cakes. I can bake nice cakes but I always wanting to do the icing. I have 3 kids so I was always investing in buying birthday cakes and so I wanted to learn about how I can do it myself. So I went there and I signed up to learn. At first, I was scared lil bit but then I got more comfortable as the course went on. I am now grateful for everything I learned,” she said.
There she was taught the principles of pastry making, the different types of pastries after which she moved on to the baking aspect of the course. She learned to bake all types of cake and moved on to decorating them.
“I learned to icing cake and prepare pastries and all of these finger foods but I wasn’t satisfied at first with the skills I had. So I went back again in 2019, I did another four months and from that, I did well. I loved it all. I loved being able to learn about all these new things and for once I felt happy to be pursuing my passion. From then, I knew that I only had to keep building myself up.”
Being impressed by her commitment and dedication towards self-improvement led the administrators of the learning centre to ask Punch if she could expand her role from being a student to a teacher.
“They asked me if I could teach the class after then and I consider it my honour to do that and now I am teaching there. They are doing a very good job there but they need some support because it is a non-profit organisation and being that they are doing the training for mostly young women, stay-at-home moms and single mothers who want to empower themselves so we would need like some support and so for whatever it is so we can help provide for the ladies.
She started teaching in January of 2020 but had to cancel classes after the coronavirus pandemic hit, but she is now back in the classroom imparting the knowledge she gained.