My family, my home
I was born in Aruba to a Venezuelan mother and a Grenadian father. I have 4 brothers and 6 sisters and more fond memories of my childhood than I can count; the hustle and bustle of a big family, always having someone around to talk or to play. There was a natural hierarchy of respect to anyone your senior to which we adhered, not only when we came to our parents, but also to older siblings.
I have 3 daughters and two grandsons, Max and George. Spending time with my grandsons is my greatest joy and biggest source of inspiration. As a parent I have always shared the pleasure of reading with my daughters and I’m happy this pleasure has been passed on to my grandsons. Max has been able to read independently from age 5, which he thoroughly enjoys.
Up close and personal
I am positive by nature. I prefer to think up solutions rather than magnifying obstacles. I see this as the result of being part of a big family. My father spent 7 years abroad working in Maracaibo and my mother had to raise the 11 of us all by herself, which meant we all had to help with housework! In return, this has made me a very independent person. Come to think of it, maybe it’s no coincidence Bencho, my book character, has the same thirst for independence. I love spending time and interacting with others, and at the same time I cherish moments of silence to reflect and meditate.
Moments of Joy.
After 46 delightful years of being a teacher and educator I finally retired in 2018. It hasn’t meant that I am less busy, but now I can afford to decide how I spend my time. I still wake up early, that’s true, but now I do so solely to bask in the first light of the morning and hear all the quiet sounds of nature from my porch.
Most afternoons I go for a walk on the beach and I let the salty sea breeze fill me with inspiration and peace of mind. Sometimes it is as if the waves whisper poetry in my ears. More often than not I find myself repeating these words to myself out loud, only to write them down later when I’m home. Many of my poems started on the beach.
Reading passion and the writing bug.
I like many aspects of reading and writing. However, I’m passionate about reading to kids and about sharing with them the joy of reading.
From the moment I learned to read a new world opened up for me. As a child I read every single thing that had letters and sentences. I would often be punished for reading way past bedtime, cleverly trying to find any source of light to lit the pages. My mom would scold me for “reading too much”, because old wives’ tales stated it would wear out my brain cells. Funny enough I was never discouraged by that and the warnings never made me stop reading, quite the contrary! I remember going to school with a pile of “clandestine” books, as it was absolutely forbidden to read anything other than what the teachers allowed us to, which often resulted in punishment or scolding for my “crime". Then 5th grade came and with it a pretty and young lady, wearing great heels and attitude that I instantly connected with. She made a pact with me: I’d be allowed to read to my heart’s content, provided all class assignments were finished first. She would let me share what I had read in an attempt to encourage the other students to do the same! This teacher laid the foundation for my advocacy for the importance of the pleasure of reading, which resulted in The Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi project, entirely dedicated to this cause.
As a young girl I would grab a pencil and any scrap of paper I could find and write stories. I would sit the dolls my sisters and I shared under a tree and read these stories to them. When I became a Special Education teacher myself, and experienced the lack of books written in my native language, Papiamento, I found myself coming up with stories from the top of my head for my pupils with characters they could identify with. After a few decades I finally found the courage to collect the fruits of these several notebooks full of stories and turn them into the "Bencho" series.
"Children remember better what we show them than what we tell them"
I often share this wisdom when talking to parents and educators about the importance of reading. A child that is surrounded by adults that engage in reading will be themselves more inclined to pick up a book purely for the pleasure it brings. .
Passionate about pleasure
The pleasure books and stories bring me inspire me to elevate my passion to higher levels. That is how the Bencho series was born.
I love children and seeing a child happy makes me very happy too. Children are the most beautiful thing on this planet.
I have never considered my special education students to be in disadvantage. On the contrary, it is because of their needs I was inspired to adapt my teaching approach. It has meant clandestinely teaching them in our native Papiamento instead of Dutch which to many was a foreign language difficult to master.