Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee Khafra Kambon says racism is still being practised against African people in T&T. Kambon was speaking on Tuesday at a panel discussion on the top
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Rising from love’s ashes
She has been vilified as a homewrecker and gold-digger, having an affair with a married man and bringing down a government minister, Fyzabad MP Chandresh Sharma, in the process. Young and sexy, businesswoman Sacha Singh has attracted the ire and envy of people in several quarters in her inexorable climb to the top in the business world.
Rumours of how she amassed her wealth are endless; racy photos of her in the nude and semi-nude are being splashed on the Internet; Facebook users are having a field day, tagging and commenting on postings of her online. Singh remains, to a large extent, unfazed. She has now taken to laughing it off, having been nervous, anxious and annoyed initially.
There is, however, another side of Sacha Singh that the public does not know about: she was a victim of abuse; she came from a broken home; she was abandoned by her father; she lost a sister to violence; she became a Christian at 14. She also has a soft heart for children, especially those abandoned, abused and neglected. She said she has endured tremendous adversity to become a successful businesswoman, the managing director of AMS Biotech Security Concepts Ltd and AmSure T&T Ltd.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian in a very candid interview at her Piarco office, on Thursday, she said all people saw were the external trappings of success such as her luxury vehicles—one of them a Mercedes Benz—and not the trials and travails she went through. Singh said, “Coming from very humble roots, with a broken family, losing a sister, to where I am today, that is the greater picture that I look at.
“I didn’t step on anyone. I didn’t sleep my way to the top because there’s a saying if you get your way by sleeping your way to top, it would never keep you at the top...” She said she was the one who had the idea for her business and resolutely went ahead to get it started. Asked where she got the money to start her business, Singh said her mother, a nurse in the US, and a pillar of strength who never left her side, gave her the support and initial start-up funds for her business venture in the security and window washing business.
Singh said her devoted mother, who came from very humble beginnings having grown up in St Dominic’s Children’s Home in Port-of-Spain, was reluctant to loan her the money, believing that she was too young and was not ready to get into such a serious business venture. But Singh was determined and convincing; her mom gave in, the business was started.
After her business started to grow, Singh moved it to Chaguanas, growing by leaps and bounds, selling home security alarm systems and competing against TSTT’s Blink Vigilance. She also sold CCTVs, cameras, access controls, fire units and biometrics.
Singh’s business also attracted investors. She said 2012 was an “extremely successful year” for her company, but in 2013 when she refused to heed the warning of friends and associates over personal choices which she made, she faced some financial challenges, losing millions, which she is now trying to recoup. Singh said she encountered prejudice in the business world not from men; most of the negativity came from women.
She said when they saw her success reflected in the high-end cars she drove, the women made disparaging remarks about her sleeping with married men and calling her derogatory names on Facebook sites.
Devastated by nude photos
Devastated by nude photographs leaked on the Internet several months ago, Singh was asked if she ever gave any thought when she was being photographed that the seductive photos might end up in the wrong hands. She said at the time (three years ago) it was just a playful act by her and her then boyfriend, “the real love of her life.” They were both around the same age—young and single. She said she later broke up with him as he was very young, a player who wanted to “test the waters.”
Singh said it broke her heart as she loved him more than anything in the world at that time. She kept the photos on her laptop and it later got into the wrong hands. It ended up on the Internet. That incident, she said, weakened her to the extent she could not work for a month. It was a minister who assisted her, she said, to get the photos off the Internet and to shut the site down.
Singh said when she decided to press charges against the minister, her greatest and only fear was that of the pictures resurfacing. She never anticipated that they would have gone public and viral. The often jolly and excited Singh, when asked if her happy appearance was just a facade, admitted she was keeping upbeat but was having problems sleeping at nights. Singh said she was disturbed at the developments and that she wondered what was going through Sharma’s mind: what he was feeling or doing.
Devil in disguise
Reflecting on her relationship that has now gone sour, Singh said when the Devil brings something into someone’s life, it usually assumes a pleasant form, and he brought it packaged in the nicest way you could ever find. She said when that person came into her life, she was prosperous, happy...but everything started to go downhill. Singh said despite the many warnings from his family, friends, political colleagues and business associates, she gave the individual the benefit of the doubt.
She said she saw something different in him that they didn’t see; and she realised later that it wasn’t love that blinded her. Singh said every now and then a person meets someone who really touches their life. She said she had no regrets being in the relationship; though she lost a lot financially, she learned a tremendous amount from the experience. Singh said it was not the problem but how you react, pick yourself up and move on that matters.
Who pursued whom?
In response to rumours that she was a homewrecker and gold-digger, she said she had to remind herself where the relationship originated and who had pursued whom. Singh said when the individual came into her life, she had gone to get a spa treatment at the Hyatt just over a year ago. She said she was a single person for more than two years when he started pursuing her.
After three months, she said, they started going out and dating, after confirming from his close friends and family that he was not in a relationship with his wife. Singh said, in retrospect, that even if he was said to be estranged, it did not make it right, as the couple was still legally married. She admitted she had to shoulder responsibility for getting involved in the relationship. She said she was 30 years old, doing “big people stuff” and now she has to face the consequences.
No women’s group reached out
When asked if any advocate women groups had approached her with respect to the violence she encountered, Singh replied that it was very sad because there was so much talk about domestic violence and not one women’s group had contacted her to speak with them. Singh said they had taken the story and moved it from the domain of abuse to pictures being splashed on the Internet.
She said it was so sad that this could have been the opportune moment for them to get the right spokesman against abuse by politicians and other powerful men—as other abused women would not speak out. Singh said she found it very disheartening that women were not supportive of her speaking out against violence but more interested in defaming her character.
The allure and attraction of older men
When asked what was the allure of an older man, if it had anything to do with the absence of a father-figure in her life, Singh insisted she was not influenced by her role model singer Celine Dion, who had an older husband. Singh said she was not your average 30-year-old, and that her success intimidated most men around her age. She said it was the illusion of power and authority that was the attraction to her.
She said she had found it difficult relating to guys her age, as they were not mature enough to hold conversations.
Soft heart for abandoned children
Singh said she had a very soft heart for children who were growing up without their fathers because it was not the children’s fault that they came into this world and their father was not there. She said a child will stay with the mother, but a father can leave because there was no attachment.
Singh said the last time that she had contact with her biological father was when she was 14 years old. Although she said she has made several attempts to reach out to him, he has remained detached. Singh said even though she was still blessed to have a doting stepfather in her life, she still missed her biological father.
That’s why, she said, she reached out to the mother and child involved in the brawl with the government minister and herself at Grand Bazaar on March 12. For now, she is picking up the pieces and moving on with her life. “Only time will tell how this whole story is going to unfold....” she said. Singh is focusing her energies on her new restaurant business venture, AMS Curry Cafe, at Piarco Plaza Mall.
While Singh’s parents lived apart, they ensured that she had a proper education. When she attended North Oropouche Government Primary School, Sangre Grande Junior Secondary School and North Eastern College, she stayed by her father in Sangre Grande and by her mother in Arima on weekends. Singh did her A levels at UWI. Singh said thay can take everything away from her, defame her character, post pictures online, but they could not take her education away and she can always rebuild tomorrow.
In 1998 Singh suffered a personal tragedy when her older sister died at the age of 18. Singh was 14 years old. She became a Christian after the loss and said when God takes something from you, he replaces it with something of a greater value, which was God’s love.
She said since then she always dedicated everything she had to God and the more people spoke about her, God will bestow greater blessings on her.
Love of travel
Singh said she loves to travel and has travelled far and wide visiting over 30 countries including Dubai, China, US India, France and German.
Singh’s first job was at Bavarian Motors. She then spent three years as a flight attendant with BWIA. During this time she studied for her BA in Business Management and Marketing at the School of Accounting and Management (SAM) with the Anglia Ruskin University, in London, and worked for Serta Caribbean before starting her own business, AMS Biotech Security Concepts Ltd at 25 years old.