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FROM PAIN TO PASSION - Beauty salon owner overcomes childhood trauma to thrive



Besides the scars of physical abuse from her childhood, beauty salon owner Pauline Scott bears little sign of the trauma she endured at the hands of relatives.  


One couldn't tell by her demeanour and loving spirit that the 53-year-old suffered what could easily be described as torture as a young child. Like many survivors of abuse, Scott says in addition to leaning on her faith in God, she chose to focus on the future and leave the past behind.


"When I was about 10, a close relative called me inside the house and threw a pot of boiling oil on me. I still have the scars to show. I used to get beaten all the time. I even get beaten because I ask for food. Sometimes when I remember those things and I start to feel the hurt, I just ask God to take away the bitterness from my heart, and I make up my mind that I'm not going to focus on the past," Scott asserted.


Recalling dark days as a child, Scott says she moved around a lot, sleeping on the floor under a bed for four years. Having been sent by her mother from St Catherine to live with her grandmother in Kingston, Scott says she never settled down in one place for very long.


"From there I went back to Westmoreland when I was about 15. In all that time, I went to different schools. I couldn't really focus on schoolwork because of the situation at home. I remember one night after my aunt beat me with a broom stick, I fell sleep under that bed and God gave me a vision in a dream. In the dream a spirit came over me and a voice said, 'You are going to be free. I'm going to give you a gift and that gift is braiding. You will be a hairdresser. There is a school for you," shared Scott, adding that while she had no idea what school she would attend, she was determined to hold on to the vision.


Those days of mistreatment are well behind the business owner who now runs a successful salon in the Westmoreland capital. As a teenager she took her lunch money and sent herself to beauty school to hone skills that for her came naturally. After working for years at different salons, she was able to open her own shop in 1996. Many years later a family friend introduced her to Access Financial Services where she took a loan of about $50,000, and since then, the company has helped her achieve many goals.


"Access has been very helpful over the years. I use the loans to buy product. The money always comes in handy. Even when I am overseas, I pay my loan and ensure that I can go back a next time," she said.


The microfinance entity recently recognized Scott with the Access Financial Services Women in Business Award, which celebrated small business operators who were holding their own as entrepreneurs while making meaningful contributions to their community. She was lauded for the many outreach initiatives she has engineered in her community, especially for children.


"Maybe it's because of what I went through as a child, but I have a soft spot for children. With my two daughters I was overprotective when they were growing up. For other kids, I do what I can to help. Over the years, I have sent a few children to school, right through to high school. Back in the day I used to go to that girls home in Spanish Town and do their hair. They were always so happy for that. Wherever I can help, I try my best," she said.


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