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The Sawhs generosity knows no bounds
The Sawhs generosity knows no bounds. This was evident recently when a man who collects a free meal daily at Joy’s Roti Delight in Fort Lauderdale drove into the establishment on a motorised wheelchair and started thanking the owner. “Thank you, Shiela, for the kind assistance,” the man said. But the restaurant’s owner Shiela Sawh was a bit puzzled as the man comes daily for his meal and she did not think it was necessary for him to thank her since she was doing it from her heart and was not looking for any adulation from him.
“You don’t know how happy you have made me, I can now get around very easily,” he added, looking at his motorised wheelchair. Taken aback, Shiela said, “No, I didn’t buy it.” The response from the happy customer was “Yes, your son Dave spent the day with me and took me around and bought this wheelchair for me because he saw how much trouble I was having with the old manual one.” At this point, Shiela was overcome with happiness, proud that what she taught her children all these years was coming to fruition.
Shiela and her husband, Joy (now deceased), started the roti business which grew very quickly into a household name for Trini visitors to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. So much so that on Joy’s passing at the age of 62, former T&T prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar attended the funeral while still in office. Joy created such an impact in the community when he was alive that last year, the City of Lauderhill agreed to rename NW 41 Terrace to Joy Sawh Street. “The name change came after the passing of Joy, who touched many lives in the City of Lauderhill,” according to a report by the South Florida Caribbean News. Joy loved to entertain people in his restaurant and gave of himself not only with food and hospitality, “but often with heartfelt advice and many times, with his own time and money”, the report stated.
After Joy’s passing, Shiela and her two sons, Dave and Pradeep, continued to serve the people at their location in Lauderhill Mall because they wanted to continue the good work he had started. Today, they have moved out of the mall and are now located a few hundred feet away in a separate building that has a very modern appeal to it, where they continue to introduce the culture of T&T to the people of Fort Lauderdale. A part of the new establishment has also been adorned with items representing the rich diversity of the culture of T&T.
Shiela explained that the success of the establishment came about not only because of the tasty dishes and varied drinks but the love they have shown to people who come through the doors. Anyone homesick can enter Joy’s and feel as if they are in T&T, such is the extent that they go to make you feel comfortable.
The Sawhs have spent a generous amount giving back to the people of the area and Pradeep explained the reason for this: “We run this place as a family and everyone that comes through the doors are our extended family. You would not believe just how many people keep coming back after their first experience. My mother, brother and I always take the time out to meet with the people and try our best to put a smile on their faces before they leave.”
Dave, the younger brother, tends to keep the place alive by associating with charitable groups from all around South Florida. Every event is celebrated at Joy’s and time and time again, they would fund charitable work through the groups. There is a group that Dave gives back to everyday because, according to him, God has been kind to his family. “God has been kind to us and my father was always one to assist people. My mother is the same thing, so my brother and I decided that this is the way to go. Anyone who comes here for assistance gets it. I have a group of people who would come everyday for food and they know that it is there for them because we take care of them. We can’t see people suffer without at least trying to put some food in their mouths. It is the least that we can do.
“This past Christmas we had a wonderful celebration and people came in their numbers. It was a fantastic day and one that would have made my dad really proud.”
When asked why he went to such a great extent to purchase an expensive motorised wheelchair for one of the regulars, he just gave off that warm smile and replied: “That’s nothing. By the way, what are you drinking?”
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