By Lakhram Bhagirat
Women are the backbone of any society. They are the silent caregivers and at the fore of almost every movement. They inspire and give selflessly but they also sacrifice the most so that those around them can thrive.
However, Natasha Khan said that this has to change. She noted that it is time that women stop giving up on themselves when they become girlfriends, wives, mothers and whatever other labels one may attach.
“I don’t think women should give up on themselves and their dreams. They should not give up on what they can pursue in this life. Women should not think that because they are in a relationship or that they are married or become a mother that they are not bound to owning a talent. Do not think less of yourself because at the end of the day, having a talent and being good at something is one thing no one can take away from you,” the 31-year-old said.
Khan is a mother of one and has not given up on herself rather she continues to chase after her dreams while raising a family. The key for her is finding the right balance between chasing after her dreams and being active in the lives of her family.
Currently, she is reading for her degree in Genealogy – Family History Research with the Brigham Young University-Idaho, taking sewing classes at the Humanitarian Mission – Guyana Inc in Berbice, and is also a full-time photographer among other titles. Additionally, she serves as team leader for local charity – Rafieya International Vision & Hope (RIVAH) in the East Berbice-Corentyne Region.
However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Khan has stopped doing photography owing to the fact that she has a young child and chose not to take the risk of possibly exposing her to the virus.
For the New Amsterdam, Berbice resident, self-development has always been at the forefront for her because since she was little girl, her parents inculcated the belief that she should never give up on pursuing what makes her the happiest.
“I grew up fairly well. My family were not the richest people but they made sure we grew up really happy and made sure I have an education and that I had food and clothing. They made sure that we did everything as a family and I was allowed to follow my dreams,” she said.
She never relented in becoming everything that she wanted to. So after she finished Canje Secondary School, Khan enrolled at the New Amsterdam Technical School where she began doing a number of post-secondary courses.
“After TI, I started my degree at BYU. I was never out of schooling. I always find myself going to some school to do some schooling. Right now, I am in my second year of getting my degree at BYU and the good thing is that everything there is done online.”
Khan is an extremely talented photographer and one of the very few female photographers in the Berbice county. Photography is something she has always been interested in and it started when she got her first smartphone.
Though the camera on the smartphone was poor, she would spend hours composing and taking images. Noticing her natural talent to take perfectly composed photos, even with low-quality equipment, Khan’s husband went and bought her a professional Sony camera.
“I started taking training on my own and then I got into contact with a professional photographer, Keon Hector and he encouraged me. He told me that I had a natural talent for photography and that was when I started building myself more and more.
I got acquainted with the different features of my camera, then little by little – I posted some pictures that me and him did together – and after then people started contacting me to do their pictures for their birthday and wedding and so on and that was when I got into it basically,” she related.
That was three years ago and as one would expect, she continues to build on the foundational knowledge she acquired.
Being one of the few females in the photography industry in Berbice and by extension, Guyana, led to Khan having some interesting experience with clients, however, her fellow photographers would treat her as their equal.
“When it comes to professional photographers, they have been so helpful in my journey because I can ask them anything. I can ask them for advice. They would compliment my work. It is very nice to see men out there encouraging women. At first, I was little bit nervous to take up a position that is heavily male-dominated but when I started it, it surprised me that they were so encouraging and helpful when I was out there,” she said.
Now that she is not doing photography, Khan is making use of the downtime to learn a new skill. Something that she grew up around and always wanted to learn – sewing.
“I always loved sewing. My mom had a sewing machine when I was a little girl and she would always sew skirts for us to go to church and so on. I always loved sewing but there isn’t much – at least in new Amsterdam here where I live – there isn’t any kind of sewing place. In my head I always wanted to do sewing with the machine because I know sewing like by the hand,” she said.
She saw the Humanitarian Mission – Guyana Inc advertising sewing classes in Port Mourant. Though she was interested, she was also sceptical of going the distance and having to take care of her baby. Her husband offered to drive her to every class and told her not to worry about the baby, so she enrolled.
“I am there learning a new thing from day one. Our teacher is a wonderful woman. She is kind and patient. She does not rush to go home after class finish and if you want help after class she would stay back there and help you out. I did not know how to thread a sewing machine and work it. I did not know about the tension because it is very important to sewing. I learned all of that. I leant to cut the cloth and make dresses and so. We have to move on to the advanced classes now but one thing is certain and that is every day you go to the class, you would learn something new,” she said.
She is very excited about the prospects of honing her skills in more fields since she believes that the sky is the limit.