Name: Maylene Rigby Harris
Retired NYC DOHMH/DOE – District Supervising Nurse, Borough of Brooklyn
I was born at #5 village West Coast Berbice, Guyana. I am the last of ten children. My mother had to raise eight of us by herself since I lost my father at an early age. I cannot even remember his features. I was raised in a stable and supportive environment which provided a channel for a positive adult life.
During my childhood there were many events, but one that stands out in my mind until today is the outbreak of Racial disturbances in the 1960(s). That uprising was instituted by the People Progressive Party, (PPP) who lost the Presidential election to the People National Congress, PNC the other major political party in Guyana.
This uprising led to a general strike in the country which crippled the economy and took Guyana many years to regenerate. As a child growing up, this was very hard for me to understand. Fortunately, we had a lot of cattle that included cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and other farm animals. My parents also cultivated large rice lands which were used for commercial purposes. My second sister and eldest brother went out to work at an early age and assisted as needed.
I led a very sheltered life being the last child for my parents. My needs were met mainly by my older siblings. At the age of sixteen, I migrated to Linden, Guyana to stay with one of my sisters where I completed my education, obtained a teaching job, got married and later migrated to the USA.
Being married at a young age had some benefits but it was also a lifestyle adjustment for me. My husband being a Seventh Day Adventist requested that I be baptized in the Seventh Day Adventist church. That was hard for me because I had to learn his beliefs. I was raised in the Congregational church and that transition was not easy considering that all my other close relatives were Congregational.
However, being a Christian is a blessing to me. It taught me to love God, love my neighbors and to love one another. The strong foundation laid from attending Sunday school in the morning then church in the afternoon, followed by song practice where we learned songs and bible verses strengthened my faith and help shape my morals and values
My favorite scripture verse is: Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31. “But they that wait upon the Lord Shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” This scripture verse is inspirational to me. It uplifts my mind and heart, giving me the strength I need to get through each day.
As a foster mom, I learnt a lot from my upbringing. I learnt that one can endure hardship and still worship God. I learnt that raising children requires not only physical guidance but also spiritual guidance. I am thankful that I grew up in a strong bible- based environment. This has helped me to raise my children in a loving and nurturing way. Motherhood can be challenging but it has its rewards.
On this Mothers’ day, I think of mothers like Elisabeth the wife of Zacharias. Elisabeth was barren but waited upon the Lord who gave her and Zacharias a son in their old age. Elisabeth was obedient and named her son John as was told to her husband by the angel of the Lord. Because of their patience and obedience, Zacharias was able to regain his lost speech. (Luke 1: 5-23)
My message to Mothers today is: “Do not be afraid to embrace the desirable values and principles that shaped your life.” Your children may not behave the way you desire but like Elisabeth and Zacharias you must be patient and obedient to the word of God, stand on God’s word. Continually give your children to the Lord and watch him transform their lives.