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Sarah Albert

After sacrificing
for her children,
Charmaine makes
time for school

Charmaine Ward came alone to the United Kingdom from Guyana in 1978. It was hard for her to be away from her family. “I was very homesick. Many times I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ I wanted to pack my bags and go home,” she says.

Charmaine kept in touch with her family by telephone. She remained in the UK and knew that one day her children and her husband, Vernley, would join her.

Her first job was caring for a family’s children in London. In 1980, she moved to Cambridge and got a job as a general helper at a nursing home. She has worked there with the elderly for 17 years.

Charmaine takes the time to get to know her patients and many have become like members of her own family: “When they feel pain, I cry. And when they die, it’s like I’ve lost a part of my own family.”

Charmaine’s husband joined her in 1979 and the children followed in the early 1980s. Charmaine always wanted to complete her education but she decided to postpone her dream for her children. “Parents have to give their children the best education they can,” she says. “My children’s education had to come first,” she says.

In 1995, after all four of her children graduated from university, Charmaine went back to school. She earned her ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels in a mixture of evening classes and distance learning courses run by the National Extension College in Cambridge. “Everyone who has taught me has been so positive and helpful,” says Charmaine. “The people I’ve met through the programme have really added a new dimension to my life”.

Charmaine always dreamed of going to university herself. Now she is studying for a degree in social sciences at the Open University.

Three of her children have moved to different parts of the country. “I never wanted them to leave, but I’m not one to hold them back.” The telephone keeps her connected: “I try to maintain the family relationship. I never want to lose that.”


Read this article again and put the following events
in the correct order.
Then check your answers here.

1. She got a job looking after children in London.
2. Charmaine studied at evening classes.
3. Charmaine's husband left Guyana to join her.
4. She started studying for a degree at the Open University.
5. Charmaine arrived in the United Kingdom.
6. She got a job at a nursing home in Cambridge.
7. Charmaine's children graduated from university.


homesick: nostálgico/a
to pack my bags: hacer mis maletas
kept in touch with: se mantuvo en contacto con
remained: se quedó, permaneció
would join her: se uniría a ella
caring for: cuidar a
general helper: asistente general
nursing home: geriátrico
the elderly: los ancianos
to get to know: familiarizarse
members: miembros, integrantes
they feel pain: tienen dolores
to postpone her dream: postergar su sueño
had to come first: tenia prioridad

went back: regresó
earned: obtuvo
distance learning courses: cursos de capacitación a distancia
run by: dirigidos por
has taught me: me ha enseñado
helpful: útil
added: añadido
dreamed of going: soñó con ir
degree: carrera
moved: mudado
to hold them back: para retenerlos
family relationship: vínculo familiar