NATASHA BOODRAM

Culinary Arts Graduate & Aspiring Chef

 

“I got a new life.”

 

Unimaginable physical, mental, and emotional abuse; endless suffering, and hopelessness was Natasha’s lot in life from childhood. Suicidal and broken from this lifetime of abuse, she nonetheless came to discover wholeness and the realisation that, with just one person on her side believing in her, she could become anything she desired to be.

 

Hell was real to me as a child. After undergoing neurosurgery at the age of one to remove a large brain tumour that I was born with, it became a problem for my parents to take care of me so I was sent to live with my grandmother, in a house where drunkenness and drug addiction was the way of life.

 

I was repeatedly and mercilessly beaten, but moreover, I became numb to it, so much so that even in my extreme suffering and bleeding state, I would ask my abusers to beat me again and again. This is how I mentally conditioned myself to survive the cruel beatings. I developed an immunity to the beatings. This was my life.

 

I was constantly told that I would never come to anything in this life. This scarred me deeply. I lived in fear and without hope, and I saw ending my life as my only way out. Depression drove me to join the household in consuming alcohol at the age of 16, all the while cutting my flesh in my attempt to numb the pain. This testimonial is but a brief summary to spare the reader the gory details of my suffering.

 

At age 18, in a bid to escape my home situation, I married a guy I had known for three months. I thought that my pain would be over, only to discover that he too was an alcoholic and drug user. The abuse continued. Often he would come home drunk, and would force me to sleep outside on the cold, concrete porch, would urinate and vomit on me, and he would sometimes kick me while using obscene language. This continued for four years until I caught him in the act of adultery and, after much challenging effort, I finally found a way out. After leaving my “husband”, I struggled to find my way, often walking the streets in tears with nowhere to go and convinced that I was losing my mind.

 

One Sunday, I decided to go to church. I was praying to myself, “God please show me a way to have a normal life.” That was when I met Dr. Austin de Bourg. During the service, without knowing me and about my dilemma, he paused from his sermon and gave me a word from God. That word was the answer to the very things I had asked God for in my prayer to Him. From that time, Dr. de Bourg took a personal interest in me and started to relate to me as a father. He gave me confidence, showed me that I was a person of worth, taught me how to be a lady and tutored me in Christian values. My mind and emotions started to mend. Today, I am whole, happy and fulfilled, and I hold no ill-feelings against any of my abusers. Rather, I am in pursuit of helping them to find a better way of life as I have.

 

One day he asked me what I wanted to become. These words shocked me as no one had ever asked me this before. Since I always loved cooking, he encouraged me to study that field, and he funded my tuition and living expenses, ensuring my comfort and total well-being so that I would want for nothing.

 

I have since completed my diploma in culinary arts in Trinidad & Tobago and was among the top of my class. As a result, I was the only student to be given the opportunity to have a six-month internship at the five-star, well-known Sandals resort in the Bahamas. From there, I have gone on to successfully complete a dual degree—a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts from the University of Derby (UK) and a Bachelor of International Business in Culinary Arts from the Cesar Ritz Colleges & Culinary Arts Academy (Switzerland)—graduating with honours in both programmes. Nothing in this world feels better than knowing that, for the first time in my life, I accomplished something that was never done in my family.

 

I plan to go on to pursue postgraduate education, however, I will first like to consider some rare and golden opportunities that would launch me in the most exclusive culinary arena in the world before going on to complete my Master’s and Doctorate degrees. None of this would have been possible without my Dad, Dr. de Bourg, who showed me how to include Jesus Christ in my life, and taught me, through the scriptures, how to be guided by the Lord and to ensure His help in fulfilling my destiny.

 

I am so thankful to my Dad. He is the greatest gift that God has given to me. He has helped me to become an excellent young woman and has given me a new life. Now I know what it's like to live a miracle every single day.

 

I believe that you can become anything once you have a loving, caring and understanding person to believe in you just as Dad believed in me. I hope, one day, to be like my Dad: to help young people mend their broken lives, and find and fulfill their purpose.

 

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