Personal Story: "Bearers of Hope" by Sharon Hughes
I am excited that Sharon is sharing her inspiring story with all of us. Sharon is a fellow blogger (figmentsandimagination.wordpress.com) and one of my loyal followers (Thanks Sharon!). She blogs about overcoming her struggles and providing hope to individuals and countries (especially South Sudan) around the world. I highly recommend checking out her blog after you’ve read her post here. She has really inspired me. Check out her empowering story below.
I’m Sharon Hughes; from Perth, Western Australia. I was raised in a large family (the eldest of 6). We had a relatively adventurous life, growing up on the road – Dad was with the circus until marrying Mum, then he drove long haul trucks around Australia, with family in tow. We were often left with carnivals, the circus, acquaintances or our maternal grandmother, if dad and mum couldn’t take some or all of us with them. Unfortunately, because of dad’s mental illness, he was violent, so the adventures were often marred with sadness. I stuttered severely from the time I could speak, this meant constant taunts from fellow students and teachers at school, not to mention always being the new kid (due to moving around so much). We went to over 20 schools around Australia (apparently). I was taunted by dad, teased for stuttering and all sorts, my self-esteem sucked.
I basically helped raise my brothers and sisters; mum was battered and had no self-esteem or desire left to do anything.
I always felt I had to be the good girl; cause no ripples, let alone waves; so that mum or any of the other kids didn’t get into trouble. I found hope in writing poetry from a young age. Then at 14 years old I was sent to live with my grandmother again, she always gave me hope and inspiration. We would pray together, sing and dance; I could be a child there. When dad sent mum and the other kids back to Western Australia, I moved home to help out. I started going to church, people treated me nicely, even though I stuttered. I got involved in meeting and greeting people, helping out with the youth group; and finding out that there were other people in the same boat as me, or a lot worse off.
I trained myself not to stutter, by breathing differently, and speaking slower. People in the church encouraged me. I had the desire to care for others less fortunate, and give people hope. Although I had a relatively sad childhood and youth, I smiled through it (my nick name was ‘Smiley’). I wanted to spread hope not sadness. I wanted to do aid work overseas too, but fate led me to marrying my lovely hubby, we have three kids. I still hoped to do something to make a difference outside of my own box, so when our children were 6, 9 and 10 years old, I went to university full-time, whilst working part-time to get work experience in my respective field (biology). Paul and I managed this, both working, me studying and raising our children (no baby sitters). I made it through my degree with flying colours, and had a full-time job offer before I even finished my course (at 38 years old). I am now a scientist, having worked in Pathology, Agricultural Science and Pharmaceutical manufacturing.
I have been to South Sudan in Africa twice so far to help out with an aid project. I am predominantly involved in the agricultural side of things (training locals to build and plant out greenhouses), although I helped with the building and medical teams too. I am a confident speaker now too, only occasionally having a bad stuttering day (if I’m tired). EVERYONE can make positive changes in their own lives, and make a positive difference in other’s lives too. We are all given gifts; it is really up to us to use them for purposes of a higher calling. Life here is too short, make the most of how special YOU are – Others will feed off of that, and value themselves more, therefore valuing others, and making a positive difference in this world. I am eternally grateful for caring, world-changing souls who were put in my path (I believe by God), who loved me unconditionally and showed me grace and gave me hope – it is my responsibility to pass it on.
Thank you Sharon for sharing your story! Keep up the amazing work. I'm blessed you were placed on my path :)
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!