Sharon Bellamy is a firm believer in Christ, a philanthropist through her charity Fishers of Men, and a vendor at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex.
She has been given to the less fortunate since she was seven years old, and after watching her mother help those in needed, decided to follow in her footsteps by registering the charity two years ago.
Bellamy prepares breakfast and lunch for 50 people during the week and that need increases to 70 on Sundays.
“As a young child, I saw my mother Maureen Bellamy [invite] people to our home and she would be cooking and giving out and that made a lot of sense to me.
Sometimes she would not be at home and people would come over and they wanted something to cook for their children and I would go, unknown to her, and take some of the stuff that we had for the next day. I got lashes but I did not mind,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Bellamy said she has not encountered any challenges because of her sex in the over 22 years she has been plying her trade at the fish market on the Princess Alice Highway where she first began selling diesel to fishing boats before transitioning to selling fish when that business closed.
In fact, she said that as a female fish vendor, she was always favoured!
As she reflected on the theme for International Women’s Day, #PressforProgress, she said to her it meant that “you have to try your best to aim higher”.
However, one of her worries is that some women and children in Barbados are being forced into homelessness.
“What concerns me most is when I look around in society and I see young [mothers] with kids and women being homeless,” she said.
Bellamy, who devoutly worships at The Power in The Blood Assembly, disclosed that a near-death experience on March 3 reaffirmed her belief that her purpose is to cater to the less fortunate.
“I went over to the hairdresser and everything was fine. The same day, I [went] to the market, I prepared my stuff for the next day to take to the poor [at the hairdresser] and I began to feel very ill and then I just passed out.”
She doesn’t recall what happened next, as she was unconscious, but Bellamy said she was told she was rushed to the Sandy Crest Medical Centre where the medical team there “had no hope”.
From the accounts Bellamy received, she was sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where she was taken to surgery and managed to pull through.
“All of that was God [because] when the doctors really found out who I was they said that they could not believe that I was still alive. The next day, a doctor – I cannot remember his name now
– came over to make sure I was alive because what he saw, as he was the head surgeon, he could not believe. [When] they found out that I feed poor people they said that there was a reason, that there was a plan and a purpose for my life.”
Two days after that operation, Bellamy experienced some more pain which forced the doctors to take her back to surgery. Again, she came out safely.
“I know that was all God. I know that I am standing here today because he had a plan and purpose for my life. The nurses said to me that they remember me crying [and] they thought that I was crying because of pain. But I was crying because I was thinking who would take care of the people whilst I [was] there. I asked the Lord to please help me to get back out to help the people.
“I did not want to ask my mother as she had just retired . . . . But God answered my prayer, as she came to the hospital on the same day and said she [knew] that instead of thinking about myself and getting better that I would be thinking about the people, and she did the job for me and I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to her,” she said.
Bellamy said that the recent death of her childhood friend, Shirley Rogers, has also impacted on her. The 73-year-old former fish vendor, who was homeless, was murdered at a bus shed opposite the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex last month.
“She was a very nice lady. I [knew] her from the time I was around seven or eight, because she came from the same district I came from . . . and she always took me to the sea and did nice things for me. So, in the end, I even thank God that I was to be there for her late stages, and even when she was working at the fish market I always used to look after her, because she was someone that was always there for me and I believe who helps me I should help them,” she said.
Bellamy’s advice for young girls interested in giving back is that they don’t need to have a lot to help others, as she had assisted people with whatever little she had at the time.
“I gave and I gave out of my need, and to this day I am seeing the hands of the Lord Almighty on my side with a lot of donations from various people. And I did it all out of my pocket, looking for no help, and now I am getting help from north, south, east and the west,” she said.