“It is a challenging job, but one that gives me opportunities nonetheless, to be of assistance to people, to help them walk through some raindrops, and I get the feeling of success when they come back and say they are okay.”
By Sharmain Grainger
In 2016 she was the proud recipient of the Golden Arrowhead of Achievement for long service
with exceptional dedication in the public and private sectors, and social work. However, even before being recognised for a national award as the country celebrated its Golden Jubilee, Mitzy Gaynor Campbell was long being recognised for many accomplishments in both the professional and personal aspects of her life.
Among the qualities that make her the outstanding human being she is today, is the dedication she applies to whatever she does professionally, and the fact that she always puts her family first, even when the going gets too tough.
In fact she believes that her life is more fulfilling today because it has over the years been laced with bittersweet moments that have helped to transform her into a contented and outgoing human being.
Many even regard her as a humanitarian, as it is this trait that she so easily exhibits every day in her role as Public Relations Officer at the country’s premier health facility – the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
“It is a challenging job but one that gives me opportunities nonetheless, to be of assistance to people, to help them walk through some raindrops, and I get the feeling of success when they come back and say they are okay,” the compassionate Campbell reflected during a recent interview.
But exactly who is this woman who is today deserving of the title of ‘Special Person’?
Although she has always had close connections to the capital city – Georgetown – her strong roots are nestled in the North West District.
Campbell’s parents were able to create for themselves a modest lifestyle in Mabaruma, Region One. However, it was because of medical reasons that her mother was required to make an 18 hour-long boat ride to the capital city to deliver her at the country’s main referral hospital – Georgetown Public Hospital.
But it wasn’t the easiest boat ride she’d travelled. In fact, Campbell later learnt that her mother’s journey to the city was marred by rough seas, a situation which was created by the throes of Hurricane Janet that hit Barbados in 1955 causing that island destination to be declared a state of emergency back then.
Because of her treacherous journey to the city, when the baby girl Edna Thomas Campbell conceived with her husband, Roy Campbell, was delivered on September 9, 1955, she decided to name her Mitzy Janet Campbell.
“The name Janet was a name I never liked because I think that to this day that same hurricane that she named me after probably swiped all the luck I could have had,” recalled Mitzy with a chuckle. But although she didn’t like the name she retained it until her mother passed away.
She remembers the day very well, because it was the Mother’s Day of 1985. It took some time but she was able to cope with the loss of her mother and in so doing she changed her name to
Mitzy Gaynor Campbell. This was in fact the name her father, who passed away about a decade earlier, had always intended her to have.
“He wanted to name me after the famous American film star Mitzi Gaynor…I am now Mitzy Gaynor and probably fulfilling my true destiny,” said Campbell as a smile overcame her face.
Reminiscing on her upbringing, she recalled being born into a rather large family. Although she was the last of four children born to her mother, she was one of 18 fathered by Roy Campbell.
While it was in Mabaruma that she was raised and developed into adulthood, Campbell noted that her early days were actually spent in Georgetown at the home of one of her aunts.
“Since my mother was a laundress at the Mabaruma Hospital and my father was a painter, my father’s sister-in-law felt that they [my parents] didn’t have enough time to look at me, so she brought me away to Georgetown. Her face is the first face I remember knowing…the nice round face of a very beautiful black woman – Enid Campbell,” Campbell shared.
Her aunt’s residence on Bent Street in the city was an ideal haven for baby Mitzy.
Enid Campbell and her two already teenage children simply doted over her.
“They babied me a lot; they spoilt me,” Campbell said. This was, however, short-lived as there came a time that Roy Campbell decided that he wanted his young daughter back home in Mabaruma. But returning to her parents’ domicile wasn’t the best reunion for a young child that had become acclimatised to being the centre of attention.
“She [Aunt Enid] took me back to Mabaruma and was weeping as she left, and there I was, barely four years old, crying to go with her,” related Campbell. However, the bond she shared with her aunt was never broken.
Aunt Enid passed in 1997, but Campbell recalled that she was given an opportunity to spend many holidays with her after their emotional separation.
Growing up in Mabaruma was simple. Campbell remembered sharing a home with her parents and one of her brothers, but occasionally they were visited by some of her other siblings.
Her first educational experience was delivered by the nuns who taught at the then St. Joseph Primary School. She also recounted being schooled by other personalities such as Rupert Lucas, a head master who was popularly known as ‘Fitty’ Lucas, and had an especially good left hand to handle the wild cane.
And there were other educators the likes of Jeffrey Layne and Locksley Wong and his wife who, according to Campbell, “made a total collaborative effort to raise all of us, who were attending school at the time, in a cultured way. Everybody looked out for the children at the time.”
But after sitting Common Entrance, it was off to the capital city again for Campbell, to attend Central High School. It was an exciting time for her, as it represented an opportunity for her to stay with Aunt Enid. By this time her
aunt had moved to Robb Street, Georgetown. But what the young Mitzy Campbell did not cater for was to once again be separated from her aunt. This time it was the doing of her aunt’s husband, who’d decided that he wanted to take her away to Amelia’s Ward, Linden, to live. Once again she was devastated, but had to settle for being accommodated by one of her cousins, before being placed in the care of one of her teachers.
However, schooling in the city came to an abrupt end when her father decided it would be much safer for Campbell to attend school in Mabaruma. As such, she completed her studies at that level at Mabaruma Secondary, which has since been renamed North West Secondary.
After completing school the next logical move for Campbell was to seek employment. It didn’t take very long for her to do so as she was offered a job by the then District Commissioner, Mr. Carlyle Neville ‘CN’ Barnwell at the Region’s Administrative office. This was, however, against the wishes of her father who had already envisaged his daughter advancing her studies in the quest to become a lawyer.
“We had agreed that I would study Criminal Law; we had discussed this several times,” Campbell recounted. However, her father had become stricken with a stroke that had left him incapacitated, thus making it necessary for her to rethink the plan they had so carefully crafted. “Things just collapsed and so I needed to find a job instead,” Campbell said. But accepting the job at the Administrative Office wasn’t merely work as, according to her, it turned out to be another level of education. You see, CN Barnwell was a stickler for good English, and Campbell had no choice but to follow suit.
“I learnt a lot from Mr Barnwell and other District Commissioners after him. My education continued while working there…I learnt how to write letters, how to use Latin quotations, and so much more,” Campbell said.
MOTHERHOOD AND DEDICATION
The other aspect of her life that Campbell vividly recalls is her beautiful children –who she is convinced were meant to be her lifeline.
As a young mother she recognised the need for her children to each have a proper education and so she made every effort to ensure that they did. But according to her, “I like to make it known that I know what it is to have more than enough and then have circumstances that can cause you to have nothing at all…having nothing at all was at the time when my children were young,” said Campbell, who pointed out that “I did what I had to do so that my children and I could survive.”
This was an element of her existence that drove her to the limit. The love for her children was unconditional. She was especially dedicated in every aspect of her work at the Administrative Office, since she simply wasn’t working for her own benefit anymore. There was so much more! In fact, she even sought to expand her expertise and by extension earning capabilities, by learning about the elections process, and indulged in some work in this regard.
In fact, it was while doing her elections work in 1988 that she was spotted by then President, Desmond Hoyte, who requested that she become an Office of the President liaison officer stationed in the North West District.
Essentially she was tasked with doing needs assessment in communities and with completing reports of her assessment and sending same to the Office of the President.
“He [Desmond Hoyte] just wanted to know what was going on in the communities so that he could make informed developmental decisions… To this day, I see Desmond Hoyte as one of the most decent people I’ve ever encountered in my life,” Campbell related.
But this all came to an end by 1992 when the Government changed. “I know what it feels like to have your bread and butter taken out of your mouth,” Campbell said as she recalled having to relocate to Georgetown in order to seek alternative employment in the private sector.
Although she accepted a number of jobs over the years, it wasn’t until she accepted the position of Amerindian Liaison Officer in 1994 at the Barama Company that she truly felt that she had finally found her professional forte in the private sector. She has been credited with making some outstanding decisions that helped the company to evolve here in Guyana. “Working at Barama in itself was quite an experience, because you had to work with people from about 14 different nations, and you had to know and accept the various cultures,” recalled Campbell who remained at the company until 1997.
She subsequently served at the Kidney Foundation of Guyana as its Office Administrator and today is the Public Relations Officer at the very hospital in which she was delivered.
In 1998, life threw Campbell another challenge. She was diagnosed with cancer. It might have been the worst experience of her life, but it was an experience that emphasised her resilience, a characteristic that she had developed many years ahead.
In fact it was only after she was diagnosed that Campbell would learn that it was a type of cancer that her family was long pre-disposed to. She, however, was not willing to accept immediately that she was being placed among the cancer statistics of the country. In fact, it wasn’t until several doctors’ opinions that she recognised the need to have the condition addressed urgently.
Although being told she had cancer left her envisaging her children around her coffin, it somehow gave her the added strength to fight even harder to hold on to life.
She was able to seek treatment in Barbados, a move that was facilitated by Dr. Gladstone Mitchell, who was the first doctor to diagnose her condition. Several months later, during which she was intolerably sick, she was back home with her children thanking God for life.
It has been 19 years since her cancer has gone into remission, but Campbell continues to wage war against cancer by helping to raise awareness about the disease that can be cured once detected early.
For her efforts in this regard our ‘Special Person’ was in 2002 presented with a Humanitarian Award from the Organisation for Social and Health Advancement in Guyana (OSHAG). OSHAG is a United States-based charity foundation that works with private individuals, health care professionals and medical organizations in order to help reduce the loss of life to cancer.
Campbell was in fact listed among the outstanding female cancer survivors who were featured in a book ‘Our Words will be there’ for which the foreword was written by President David Granger, who emphasised the importance of keeping women alive, a notion that has resonated well with Campbell, thus she has been continually encouraging other women to be like her and seek to triumph over cancer.
Jan 21, 2020West Indies Over-50s selectors have named a squad of 16 players for the 2020 Over-50 World Cup which will be played in Cape Town, South Africa during March 11th-25th 2020. The selectors have named...
Jan 21, 2020
Jan 21, 2020
Jan 21, 2020
Jan 21, 2020
Jan 21, 2020
This country has one of the smallest populations in the world but per capita, it has the largest numbers of psychologically... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]