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Michelle Sinanan washes clothes at a friend’s home in San Francique, Woodland.

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It’s been a life of struggle for Michelle Sinanan, who walked away from a life of domestic abuse 15 years ago.

Since then, Sinanan has faced homelessness, joblessness and hopelessness as she struggled to provide for her three children.

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, Sinanan said walking away was not easy.

She recalled the days when she cowered before her rage-filled husband, praying for a way out.

“Every day was licks and cursing. You never knew what he was going to do next. One day he beat me so bad that I realised if I did not walk away, I would end up dead,” Sinanan said.

“The children were living in fear. When we see his car coming up the road, we would get worried because we did not know what would happen. He would beat me up really badly in front of the children.

“Sometimes the police would take me to my parents’ home but I would always come back. I never liked growing up in a single-parent home and I did not want this for my children, but that is what eventually happened because one day I decided I could not take that licks.”

Sinanan said she left her three sons behind but later filed for custody and won the case.

“I fought for my children and my house and I ended up getting everything. When I got everything, my ex-husband’s family didn’t want us there. They couldn’t move us so one day the house burnt down,” she said.

To this day, Sinanan is convinced the fire was maliciously set to force her and her children out of the house at Pluck Road, Woodland.

With tears glimmering in her blue and brown eyes, Sinanan recalled how she felt that night when fire destroyed the roof over their heads, knowing they had no place to sleep.

“Eventually, we stayed by a relative and then we moved out and we started to rent. I was in between jobs, the rent was hard. My son was 12. He was facing a difficult time. He didn’t stay in school. A year after renting, I fell sick and he left school to help me,” she recalled.

Seeing her son in distress was painful.

“Every evening at 5 pm, he would cry nonstop, not having a place to rest his head. I had to be strong for him. What we faced has thrown him back. He is not how he used to be. He was a student and was doing okay in school,” Sinanan recalled.

In those days, Sinanan would often call her son’s teachers and ask for him to be sent home early so he could help her sell doubles.

“He didn’t get to finish school and I know that hurts him,” she said.

Sinanan said she hoped to send him for electrical and welding courses once they built a proper home.

While there were no government agencies to lend assistance to them, Sinanan said she was thankful to the Evangelistic Healing Ministries for providing refuge.

“Jesus kept me grounded. If I did not hold on to him, I would not have managed. People from church helped me. That’s why I am still here,” she said.

Despite the love of her friends, Sinanan said she continued to face setbacks after the fire.

In 2016, she developed a bleeding disorder.

“I had to do an operation but I prayed and everything healed,” she added.

A year later, Sinanan got into an accident and damaged her shoulders.

“My muscle tissues were damaged and with the heat of frying doubles, the pains increased,” Sinanan said.

Her son stopped school permanently in 2018 and when they finally got their lives in order, Sinanan’s sister, Rachel Logan, was murdered by a jealous ex-lover. She too had been a victim of domestic violence.

A month later, COVID-19 hit and Sinanan was thrown on the breadline.

“I was frying doubles in a van and renting from that same person. When the COVID lockdown came into effect we weren’t paying rent but then three months later, they told me I have to pay rent. We could have been homeless but my friend Lydia Dubarry took us in,” she said.

With the support of Dubarry, Sinanan said she grew stronger and eventually began participating in vigils, lobbying for an end to domestic violence.

While the journey has not been easy, Sinanan said she wanted to send a message to other struggling women.

“You have to learn to be strong. Take every day one step at a time. Don’t get into relationships because it throws you off. Stay single, tough, but hold on to God,” Sinanan said.

She added that her only goal right now is to work hard and one day build a home for her family.

“Even if it was a ply-board house, I would be happy. I love my friend but I don’t want to stay with her all the time. All I want is peace and quiet to live in a humble home of my own with my family,” she said.

She added that a Good Samaritan has donated a piece of land but she now need building materials.

Sinanan also called on the Government to lend support to struggling single mothers like herself.

“People tell you to walk away and you should, but sometimes if you don’t have the support, you can’t manage,” she said.

Dubarry called on women activists and charitable organisations to help Sinanan achieve the dream of having her own home.

“Any assistance will be welcomed. Michelle is a wonderful person who has been through a lot in life. She and her family deserve happiness,” Dubarry said.

Anyone wanting to assist Sinanan can contact her at 680-9109.