By Lakhram Bhagirat
The famous American comedian Wanda Sykes once said: “If you feel something is out there you are supposed to do it, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and do it.”
That’s 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 did not find the boulevard to follow her passion until 2018 when she came in contact with the Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc. which offered baking and cake decorating classes.
The Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc. is an educational, social and charitable Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) whose pain purpose is to “Educate, Empower and Promote”.
The NJAS Humanitarian Mission Inc. was started in 2005 under the auspices of the 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 organization has been able, through donor funding, to build a fully functional training center in Port Mourant, Berbice.
The facility is used for providing vocational training and education to the community to help break the cycle of poverty.
“It has been a mission to serve everyone, regardless of race, color or religious affiliation. To further strengthen the vision of this mission on the way forward, we have incorporated a new entity called The Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc. which is a tax-free, not-for-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 organization said on its Facebook page.
Through the Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc., Punch has been able to move from being a student to being a teacher of the four-month baking and cake decorating course – a feat she thought she would never be able to achieve.
She had a regular job until she became pregnant with her third child and stopped working. However, always wanting to be winning and helping provide for her children, Punch led her to pursue her passion for food. At first, he started preparing hot meals and would sell in the bus shed in front of the University of Guyana’s Tain Campus.
Then in 2018, through a WhatsApp group talk, I came across a leaflet from the Humanitarian Mission about its many classes being offered.
“I got a word about the mission from the WhatsApp group and I went there to visit. I had a passion for cakes. I can bake nice cakes but I always want to make 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 make it myself. So I went there and signed up to learn. At first I was scared of lil bit but then I became more comfortable as the course progressed. I’m grateful now for everything I learned, ”he said.
There, she was taught the principles of pastry making, the different types of pastry that progressed to the baking aspect of the course. He learned to bake all kinds of cake and proceeded to decorate them.
“I learned to bake a cake and prepare cakes and all these finger foods but I wasn’t happy at the start with the skills I had. So I went back again in 2019, I did another four months and from then on, 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 pursue my passion. From then on, I knew I just had to keep building myself. ”
Her commitment and dedication to self-improvement led to the learning center administrators asking Punch if she could expand her student-teacher role.
“They asked me if I could teach the class after that and I consider it an honor to do that and now I’m teaching there. They do a really good job there but they need some support because it’s a not-for-profit organization and because they do the training mainly for young women, stay-at-home and single mothers who want to empower themselves so we would need some support and so for whatever it is so we can help provide for the girls.
She started teaching in January 2020 but had to cancel classes after the coronavirus pandemic struck, but she is now back in the classroom sharing the knowledge she gained.