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Sightless man bakes for special needs students

Gregory Smith and his wife Marriott at Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre

By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Staff

Living with a disability himself, Gregory Smith has no reluctance in sharing his culinary skills with the special needs students at Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre (EHRLC).

Smith is a visually impaired pastry chef who has been volunteering at EHRLC for years. He said he quite enjoys making his contribution to the school.

Educators at the special needs institution said Smith is an inspiration to the students, considering that he has made something of himself despite being visually impaired.

Smith, in the meantime, told BVI News that he was not born without his eyesight.

He said he was capable of seeing up to adulthood, and was already practicing in the culinary field.

The pastry chef didn’t go into detail about how he lost his sight. When asked about it, he muttered: “I was on medication.”

It happened 1993, Smith told BVI News Online. “For the first couple of months, it had me hold up. But my wife, she encourage me… It’s a hard thing to know that you can see, walk on your own, and the next day – or within three days’ time, you can’t move,” Smith said as he rolled a handful of dough for baking.

Smith, who now works with the Agriculture Department in Paraquita Bay, noted that he did not allow the major life change to keep him down.

Shortly after he became visually impaired, Smith enrolled in the Society for the Blind in Jamaica.

“There, I gained a lot of courage too because when I went there you had people who born with socket but they don’t have the ball of the eye. There was one guy [like that] who was teaching braille. So he never see what colour an orange is, or an apple, but I see them. So, if you ain’t never see them and I see them [before], this (blindness) ain’t gonna stop me. So that’s where I get a lot of encouragement from.”

Now well-adjusted after losing his sight, Smith continues to do what he loves – and more.

He also knows his way around a sharp knife.

“Even though I’m blind; I can peel potato. As a matter a fact, I’m the cook home; I do all the cooking home. I can peel potato, peel onion, peel orange – anything.”

Smith added: “I clean fish; I skin goat, and so I told Mrs [Vansittart] Huggins that I am gonna come by [the school] to do some bread stuff for the kids.”

Huggins is the principal at EHRLC, where Smith made one of his usual visits yesterday, May 12. He was helping the students with a Mothers’ Day project.

“I’m glad that I come today (Friday). So I’m gonna make some of these stuff [pastry] so they can carry home for their mothers for Mothers’ Day,” Smith said.

Principal, Vansittart Huggin

Principal Huggins lauded Smith for his contribution to the school.

“He donated all of the ingredients. The only things that he requested were an oven and a counter-top. I knew him before and we had a student that was blind, so we used him as a motivator for not only the person that was blind but for all the students, to let them know that it’s not about their limitations but their potentiality. So you can do anything you set your mind to,” Huggins said.

In the meanwhile, Smith’s message to persons who have a disability is: “Don’t give up.”

“If you lost one thing – if you loss a leg, don’t feel that you can’t do nothing. You could still use you eye; use you mouth. If you lose your eyes, you still got your hands; you could still move about. I always tell people ‘when you think you have it worse, think about somebody who have it worse that you and you will never worry about your problems…’ You just got to use your mind. That’s all. Don’t let it go to waste.”

EHRLC student assists with the baking

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