Apr 05, 2011 News
“I could tell you I live a happy, happy life. I wasn’t manhandled; man ain’t beat me. Me husband never give me a slap. I live a nice life”
Guyana has just got its latest centenarian. This time it is Martha Bunwarie, nee Sandy, of Lot 48 Number 64 Village on the Corentyne.
On Sunday, ‘Mother Martha’ as she is popularly called, turned 100 and more than 300 persons turned up at her home to celebrate the important milestone. Born at Number 65 Village, Martha was an avid rice farmer in the area.
She attended the New Market Primary School at Number 63 Village after which she started to do rice and fish farming. She migrated to Skeldon in 1941 where she married Henricus Bunwarie at the age of 34. Her husband later died in the 1988.
She returned to Number 64 Village in 1966. She bore one child who died by drowning in 1972. “I grow lots of children. People would come bring their children to go to school; they stay five years, six years; they go away then another set come,” she said. She said that she even ended up ‘buying’ a child.
“You take a penny and buy a penny bread. And you hold the baby and you give the mother the bread. And the mother will eat the bread. When the mother finish eating the bread, you say the baby is me own but you can take it and care it. You let the baby nurse you and you hand the mother back the baby,” said Mother Martha.
She has countless grandchildren borne by the children of her son who died and much more from the children whom she normally cared.
Martha said that she still has a passion for farming in this present day. She said that on some days she would awake from her bed and still feel that strength in her that would make her want to go straight into the rice fields.
She is an Anglican and was a regular churchgoer. Fr Marcus Simon, her priest, she says, would visit her every month to give her Holy Communion.
When asked how she feels to be 100, she said, “Well I never thought I would have lived to be a100 years, because I always complaining. But I must thank my doctor (Dr Seepersaud)”. She visits the doctor once per month.
The centenarian is also an avid reader of novels. “I read a lot. I don’t wear glasses. I wear glasses a couple times for fashion but I don’t depend on it. My father said don’t interfere with your eyes. If you can see a little, content with that”.
She is not a diabetic and is not arthritic but does have a little coughing now and again.
When Kaieteur News asked the woman what the secret is to live 100 years, she said, “You have to live an honest life. You have to be honest with your own self. To live an honest life, you have to work and when you work you have to try to save a little bit from what you work. If you work for one cent, try and save two cents. I love an honest life.
After being a farmer, she became involved in helping mothers deliver their children and cared for them after the deliveries. She was also known for creating concoctions for young mothers who had difficulties becoming pregnant; and they worked, she said.
“When you sick to get baby around here, they go and call the nurse, and then they go and call you. You don’t deliver but you get everything ready. And when the nurse done deliver the case, you have got to care that mother and baby for nine days, and you never know how much a nurse charge for a case; we don’t know,” she said.
She would go from house to house to do people’s laundry to make a living as well, she said.
“I never stand up at my gate and quarrel with a neighbour, never, never, never. Me go to Skeldon and live. Me had Indian neighbours; me come here, me meet Indian neighbours.
“I could tell you I live a hundred happy, happy life. I wasn’t manhandled; man ain’t beat me. Me husband never give me a slap. I live a nice life”, she stated.
She enjoys macaroni and cheese, fish, rice and ground provisions. “I can’t digest any and any food. I got to live on baby food, like Nestum, glucose sugar, Complan, those kinds of things.” Martha would listen to the radio often as well.
Her granddaughter, Corina Peneux, who takes care of her, said that she bathes her and combs her hair. “She is a nice old lady. She doesn’t give me any problem. She would get up in the morning; I would give her breakfast. At ten o’clock, I would give her a little juice. At least twelve o’clock, she has to get her lunch. She would clean her greens and pick rice. But the whole day she would be busy with a novel.
“Until now, she wants to stitch (on a machine). She has an old machine upstairs,” Peneux told Kaieteur News. Her great-granddaughter, Sabrina Patrick, also assists in taking care of her.
And so, well-wishers, a troupe of overseas relatives, including her sister and grandchildren turned up in large numbers at her home on Sunday. A religious service was conducted by her priest.
Tributes to Mother Martha flowed on and on. She received a bouquet from Mayor of Corriverton, Roy Baijnauth, as well as a floral arrangement from a representative from the Women’s Progressive Organization (WPO).
A representative of President Jagdeo from the Office of the President also handed Mother Martha a large food hamper.
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