Lethem teen forced to postpone dreams of becoming lawyer after father’s death

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                                               Rhema Alice Rennie

By Lakhram Bhagirat

Ever since she was a little girl, Rhema Alice Rennie dreamt of becoming a lawyer and did everything she could to put herself on that path. She worked hard in school and took up extra-curriculars that would have given her the extra oomph when she started her law studies.

However, she is now forced to put a pause on her intended career path after her father, the major contributor, passed away leaving their family to battle with not only loss but also financial woes.

Rhema is currently employed at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Limited (GBTI) in Lethem. She explained that she is currently on a six-month probationary period with the Bank but prior to that she was working as a sales clerk at a local supermarket.

She was forced to take up employment after finishing school in an effort to supplement the loss of income from her father’s death.

The young woman recently shared her story with the Sunday Times and explained that she was born and raised in Lethem. She is the eldest child for her parents and has three younger brothers.

“My parents moved here as missionaries in 2002 with the responsibility of my dad pastoring the local church. My father was Grenadian, my mother is from Berbice and they met in college. So most of my childhood memories are centered around listening to my father’s sermons, exploring the grassy savannahs behind our house and swimming and fishing in the creeks my dad would take us to every Sunday,” she remembered.

When she started her education, Rhema had all sorts of struggles. While she felt as though she “belonged” in the classroom, her performance there told her otherwise. She loved reading and made a lot of new friends but she was a slow learner.

“I was slow then and ended up graduating nursery school with 7 per cent and being labelled one of the slow children in Grades 1 and 2. It was after finding a teacher who was patient enough with me in Grade 3 that really set me on a steady pace. I placed in the top 10 for the Region (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) in my National Grade 4 Exams but my education was once again halted when in Grade 5 we had to move and I lost track of my studies.

“Upon returning to Lethem I was transferred to the Arapaima Primary School where I did my National Grade 6 Exams. I placed last in the top 10 for the school and was told by my father that I would not be awarded for my mediocre grade,” Rhema said.

                                                                        Rhema and her family

That fuelled Rhema to work even harder to become successful at her CSEC exams and that is exactly what she did. Rhema came out as the top student of St Ignatius at the 2020 CSEC exams. She secured passes in 14 subjects with 4 Grade Ones, 5 Grade Twos and 5 Grade Threes.

However, this time round she could not have celebrated with her father.

“Before passing away my father had been living separately from us for 14 months. He would however arrange for transportation for us to go to school and would meet us in the afternoons. It was during the time that school was closed due to the pandemic when I got a text from him saying he was unwell and wouldn’t be at his office for me to visit him. I didn’t take it seriously until a few days later I got a message from one of the people close to him informing me that he had passed. This was approximately three months before I was scheduled to sit my CSEC exams. I was devastated that I did not get to see him for the last time to be able to say my goodbyes but as they say ‘the show must go on’ and I had to cut short my grieving process to focus on my studies.

“Though my father was not living with us he was responsible for most of the bills especially rent which meant that we had to move out of the house we were staying in. In order to cope, I focused only on the good memories and try to find something to laugh about so as to not cloud myself with grief,” the young woman shared.

After her father’s death, Rhema had to start working to assist her mother and brothers. She first started at a supermarket but moved over to GBTI. The dream of being a lawyer, for now, is shelved while she works to address the immediate need.

“Ever since I was a young child I have always been interested in the courts and legal systems. I would use disagreements with my siblings as practice for arguing a case in court. While everyone else wanted to watch cartoons I always found myself looking at crime documentaries and court shows such as ‘Law and Order.’ While I would like to become a lawyer, it is not my only goal. I also write and would like to be able to publish books and songs,” she said.

“I am planning to apply to UG later this year as I have finally gotten a job that would help me pay for courses.”

Rhema is aware of the number of sacrifices needed to attend law school. She is hopeful that a scholarship or some financial aid comes her way as she embarks on her studies. She is also appealing to anyone who can give her a head start by donating some law textbooks or financial assistance to please do so.

She can be reached on 693-3760.