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By Gabriella Chapman
On this day last year, social media was abuzz with messages of condolences, and touching stories, after the news of Denisha Victor’s death was announced.
Today, the friends and family of the young entrepreneur and natural hair enthusiast, are still in a state of shock and grave sadness, as she played a major part in their lives.
Village Voice News spoke with a few of her close friends and associates who shared how devastating the year has been without Victor, as they described her as “the glue that kept them all together”.
Her friend and business partner, Tamika Henry-Fraser, with whom she co-founded the popular Curl Fete event said: “I saw a meme about grief that resonated with me, it never disappears or gets smaller, but your life just continues to grow around it. Ever so often, it rises to the surface and when I think of Denisha, the grief feels just as overwhelming as it did one year ago. Before her, I had never known such loss or void. she was connected to so many of the daily aspects of my life that we took for granted; from social activities to business ventures. Especially Curl Fete does not feel the same. And while the team will persevere because of how meaningful the movement is, we all feel the weight of her absence, practically and emotionally. When I reflect on this past year, it’s hard to pinpoint one emotion. There’s shock, anger, confusion, sadness, helplessness and even small moments of peace knowing that she is at peace and that ultimately God is in charge. Similarly, it’s difficult to isolate one favourite memory of Denisha from our childhood to now. I remember her as a complete force. Kind, but also shady in our private funny moments; confident, but humble enough to try new things; youthful but focused on achieving her goals; a leader but willing to follow a good cause; passionate and like everyone says, with a kilowatt smile.”
Jasmaine Payne, a friend from the Curl Fete team, said she is still in disbelief, but finds comfort in the memories they shared.
“In the past year, there have been many instances where fond moments shared with Denisha popped in my head. We didn’t talk very often, but whenever we did, we would share a hearty laugh about something or indulge in some conversation where we could have a worthwhile exchange. When I stumble across photos of her, I still shake my head in disbelief, but those frozen memories of her exuberance are a small comfort of the shining light that she was. I pray that she continues to sleep in peace,” Payne said.
Another friend from the Curl Fete team, Odelyn Parker said that the year has been one filled with sadness as the wound is still fresh.
“Whenever her name is mentioned, the sudden sadness fills me up and I reflect on the good times we’ve spent as friends. The feeling of losing a true friend is still fresh one year after knowing that I cannot pass at her store and pop in to have a quick chat. Denisha was always that person I can run my business ideas to and get advice on the way forward and she always supported my ideas. I would pass the store everyday hoping to see that bright smile through the glass door. Denisha was always someone I could have approached for business ideas or just crack a quick joke. Having to execute the last projects (Frontline Workers Appreciation and Scavenger Hunt), I reflected on the many nights and days we spent preparing for Curly Fete, from many fashion finds, to radio interviews and television appearances. I wish she was still here but she is in my heart and I will forever cherish the good times spent with her,” Parker shared.
On behalf of her friends from St Joseph High School, one colleague said “one year later and our eyes are still welling with tears on her passing. After her passing you question whatever Creator you acknowledge, you reference what “she might have said or done” in your conversations. You realise that she really was the glue that held your group together. A new sense of urgency suddenly engulfs your life and you think of all the plans that you want to bring into fruition because time suddenly feels fleeting. A smile soon forces its way on your face as you remember “Plantain and fried chicken is life” even at Restaurant week because that’s your friend. This smile then leads to a chuckle as you think on how personalised and indelible your friendship is with her. A thoughtful welcome home breakfast, a well-planned bridal or baby shower, a text checking in on you even with millions of things on her plate, a long ‘gyaff’ in her car being just the needed break. A very strong argument but you better be ready to be friends soon after.
The fact is, not a day goes by without a reference to her, either personally or collectively as a group of friends. We never really knew how much she meant to us or impacted our lives until she was gone. Forever our Sunshine Sister.”
Expressing similar sentiments, a representative of the Rotary Club of Georgetown Central, a volunteer club that Victor relentlessly served in, said Denisha was the glue that kept us together. She was phenomenal, inspirational and someone who possessed a drive for helping the less fortunate. We struggled to gather ourselves after her passing. Denisha was always the group member with the project ideas. It was almost like she never stopped thinking of ways to help people. We remember our final project she spearheaded, was the Installation of Hand Washing Stations at the Stabroek Market Square. It was conceptualised with the phrase; “Hi guys I have an idea, what do you think of setting up hand washing stations at Stabroek Market. It would really help in preventing the spread of COVID- 19” and that was it. When discussions got heated she would always say “Guys, remember we are all working towards the same goal”. This has become our mantra. She taught us to be unapologetically bold and fearless. There is no doubt that Denisha has left a great impression on our lives. We miss her laughter, her brilliant ideas, and her love for service. While we are all still sad and heartbroken, we choose to celebrate her life today. Life in Rotary has not and will never be the same without our friend but we will continue to honour her through service and goodwill. Sleep in Peace Denisha.”
Her friends at Radikal Drama Group, which she was also member of, said they would often reflect on their time with her, as a group.
One of the members said “The past year has been one which was filled with memories of our beloved sister and friend. As a group, we often reflect on the good, bad and not so good times spent with Denisha; rehashing long running jokes, reminiscing on events that brought us together, or even reliving the moments we learned about each other as a group which allowed us to grow into the individuals we have become. Denisha will forever be missed and live on through the fond memories we have of her.”
Her close friend, Shevon Henry said she was inconsolable when she received the devastating news last year, and it “still feels like a dream.”
“As one year has passed and I still can’t come to grips with it. Her passing still feels like a dream, it can’t be real. Denisha had so much planned, so much left to give and so many more persons to help. How can God snatch away one of my best friends? I remember getting that phone call; me thinking this has got to be a joke; then calling your phone and not getting through. My mother couldn’t even console me. I was heartbroken. If I had only known that activity we attended a few days before her passing was going to be the last time I would have seen her, I would have hugged her more, said much more and laughed way harder. Words cannot describe how much I miss her and the void we all feel. Continue to sleep in peace Denisha. Love always,” Henry shared.
Monique Springer reflected on what an extraordinary friend Victor was to her. “For her friends, she’d always go above and beyond, whether it was creating business partnerships, making a job recommendation, or planning special events. During my first pregnancy, I knew a baby shower was inevitable and I knew Denisha would be at the center of the planning. So, during our weekly chat, I would mention all the things I wanted at my shower. She would laugh and say ‘I’m not planning a shower Monique’. She did plan my shower and it was the most beautiful shower because it was everything I wanted with a few surprises. I miss her in the morning, afternoon and night. I know she’s still in the midst of putting things in place for all of her family and friends to win. I love you Denisha, fly high.”
Victor was 31-years-old and was the holder of a Diploma in Banking and Finance, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Guyana. She also graduated from the University of the West Indies with a Master’s in Business Administration, specialising in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
She previously taught Personnel Administration at Nations University. In a first for the institution, two of her students were awarded the top paper for the examination worldwide.
In October 2017, Victor won the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Live Pitch Business competition. She was also listed on the BrandYouth website as an Entrepreneurial Awards Recipient, 2019 Honouree (Special Award).
Her list of achievements is extensive and so is the list of lives she touched with her presence and personality. May her soul continue to rest in peace.