Dame Louise Horne

99 years - Arima

Little Louise was born on Lopez Street in Arima. She lives in the exact same estate house where her Grandparents and parents lived, and maintains their furniture today just as they did over 100 years ago. Her mother's maiden name was Santiago and her parents owned land in D'Abadie and Arima. Every piece of furniture at her home looks no older than it would have when Louise was a child; her mother took pride in maintaining these antique treasures, making sure the young Louise was meticulous and thorough when cleaning.

After finishing primary school, Louise began to teach at the Arima Boys Government School (which can be seen from her home) earning 10 dollars a month. She had the pleasure of teaching the young Aldwyn Roberts, the 'Lord Kitchener'. Instead of memorising a poem over the weekend, Kitchener wrote a sonnet about a woman in his area. Furious, Ms. Horne sent the young man to the Headmaster's (principal) office. She, however, was forgiving and pleaded leniency from Ms. Horne, declaring "the boy can write."

Ms. Horne sought to further her teaching career by taking a three-year government training course in Chaguanas. It was there she decided that she wanted to switch gears to nutrition. Following her success in the teaching exams she was accepted to the University of London on full scholarship. Tragically, Louiseā€™s father had passed on and she was left with a dilemma: she was torn between leaving behind her mother and older sister and going so far away (a trip to England then was made by boat). One might be surprised that in 1938 this was her most serious concern but she shrugs it off, "I wasn't bothered, you do what you had to do." The government arranged to not only pay Louise's way but to give her mother a monthly allowance of 40 dollars (the average salary was 30 dollars). Undoubtedly, she was an exceptional student.

In Edinburgh Louise excelled. Being a foreign student and the sole black person she stood out, but says she was never ridiculed. She was referred to as "Trinidad" by her professors. In the pursuit of her studies, Louise traveled the world, going to Sweden and as far as South Africa, learning and applying the disciplines of Dietetics- which include the bacteriology and physics.

Upon her return to Trinidad she took up her post as the first female senator of Trinidad and Tobago and fought fervently for 15 years for better nutrition in schools and hospitals and for better benefits for single mothers. She is well- respected in her community and is a valued member of the Coterie of Social Workers. Ms. Horne was made a Dame in the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II himself and, at the age of 94, wrote a book on the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ms. Horne never married or had children; she quotes friends of hers saying "what man could deal with all that [Ms Horne's no nonsense personality]." Ms. Horne is unapologetic and regrets nothing. She had the courage to decide that marriage (especially in her day) would only hinder who she aspired to be, "I wanted to see the world and I did that." Ms. Horne strides the antique halls of her home as she remains very active into her hundredth year adhering to her routine: "you wake, you make your bed, you start breakfast, tend to the yard, then you have breakfast." Her home is marveled as a living museum: archiving every milestone in her career, every speech written, every bill passed, every achievement mounted and showcasing all the trinkets she has collected from around the world- all preserved in an elaborate display case that is well over a century old. She continues to be a source of astonishment and inspiration to all who have come to know her.