Former Petrotrin worker Jael Caballo-Shepherd learned a valuable life lesson a year after Petrotrin closed its doors: “Do not depend on an organisation for survival. Instead, develop your skills and your God-given talent.”
Caballo-Shepherd shared a story of resilience and fortitude which led to the setting up of her company, The Nurture Nook Spa, based in Cocoyea, San Fernando.
Unlike many of her colleagues, Caballo-Shepherd said she did not receive a cent in severance benefits from Petrotrin despite being employed at the company as a temporary worker for five years.
“All I got was my backpay which was owed to me but they said I missed the number of days to qualify for retrenchment and so I did not get a cent,” she recalled.
Having suffered through the ordeal of retrenchment, Caballo-Shepherd uses The Nurture Nook to make people feel good about themselves. She offers restorative massages, waterless medical pedicures, and sugaring, a natural way of removing excess body hair.
“When people think about foot massages, they think about it as a luxury but it isn’t. Even though the economy is bad, people need to take care of themselves. People need to realise that things will go well for them when they feel good about themselves,” she said.
Caballo-Shepherd said she recognised the importance of self-care long before Petrotrin closed. She explained that her son was only five months old when Petrotrin folded and in the early days she was worried.
“We were concerned about what we would do, about finances and about how we were going to take care of our son. It was uneasy but things worked itself out for us here,” she said.
Sitting on a chair and smiling happily, Caballo-Shepherd said she focussed her energies on re-tooling, re-training and re-energising herself.
Before the company’s closure, she did a course in medical massage with the Pearl Gopaul School of Massage Therapy and when the company folded, she threw her energies into furthering her skill.
“I began doing foot massages. In March this year, I got my certification as a qualified body sugaring practitioner from Alexandria Professionals and I got my Certificate of Achievement Diploma from Imperial Feet. I also got certification to become an authorised distributor for Imperial Feet,” she said.
Now many people, even those without jobs, go to her for massages.
“I try not to have high prices for massages. You have to keep doing it to feel the benefits,” Caballo-Shepherd said.
While she is now able to make ends meet, Caballo-Shepherd said she hadmany close friends who were out of work when Petrotrin closed. She said some who were given jobs faced victimisation.
“There was a stigma to working at Petrotrin. People would say don’t bring your Petrotrin attitude here,” she said.
Despite the challenges she faced, Caballo-Shepherd is thankful for all that she learned at Petrotrin. She still finds time to work part-time for a company as a data entry clerk and also to continue working part-time at another spa.
“I learned how to persevere and make things work despite all the challenges. I am doing three jobs right now but it is worth it. These part-time jobs helped me to buy the equipment for my spa.
“I am thankful for everything that I achieved in one year with the help of my husband and my family,” she said.
She urged young people to find a skill so they could do things for themselves and also for others.
People interested in visiting The Nurture Nook Spa can contact Caballo-Shepherd at 347-3383.