Drokaliawatie Murl Singh Memorial Fund Description
Drokaliawatie Murl Singh, also known as Auntie Murl, was born in Corentyne, Berbice in Number 68 Village on November 11,1951 to Lope Singh and Odree Singh, and passed on January 9, 2021. She was an incredibly special person. Born with a hole in her heart, autistic, and could only see with one eye, she faced many health challenges. And yet, she was the most loving and generous person ever! We believe the hole in her heart was a portal to a deep reservoir of love that many of us rarely experience. Auntie Murl was a blessing in the lives of many and will be dearly missed.
Our nanie, Odree, often told us stories of how she was very ill when she was pregnant with Auntie Murl. And when she was born they often described her as a “sickly child.” Today, we understand that she was born with special needs or differently abled. In Guyana at that time, they did not know how to diagnose her. After she migrated to the United States, we learned that she was autistic. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
Auntie Murl’s sister and caretaker, our mom, Eileen Singh, shared that Auntie Murl attended Chandan Pre-School with all of her four younger siblings. They all kept her company at the different times that they attended school. But somehow she never progressed past pre-school. Looking back, we believe that Auntie Murl needed a special kind of education that was not accessible to her. The family described her as having the spirit of a small child regardless of how much she grew and got older.
Along with our nanie, Auntie Murl cared for us and our older sister as our mom held down 3+ jobs consistently. She’s been a constant in our household— in our lives. In addition to taking care of us, they provided childcare and meals for the kids of other family members, as well as members in our community in the Bronx, NY.
Aunty Murl was deeply spiritual. Every morning she would wake up, bathe, get dressed and pray. She would sing her heart out with her own version of classic bhajans. Her voice resonating throughout the house brought joy to us. She would then come down and be sure to hug and kiss everyone in her own special way. What Aunty Murl lacked in physical capacity, she more than made up for with her capacity to love and care for others.
"Sharing is caring" is a fundamental life lesson we learn by the age of 2-3 and it is how so many of us and our people have survived despite adversity. Throughout her memorial, we were reminded that Aunty Murl was an exemplar of this notion. Herself was a child at heart until her passing at the age of 69, she always loved and cared for the children in our family.
To honor Aunty Murl’s legacy, our family has established a fund to support young children with special needs. While she may not have all of the educational and developmental support as she could have due to the lack of access in Guyana, and as a new immigrant group in NY where mental health and different abilities are often stigmatized and unsupported, we can shift this for others. This fund will ensure that young people and their families have that extra support for emergencies and for proactive educational and developmental support of children with special needs. It will be administered by Jahajee Sisters: Empowering Indo-Caribbean Women which has an infrastructure to manage and distribute funds through a careful intake and relational process.
Please consider joining us in memorializing Aunty Murl and ensuring young people with special needs are cared for by a beloved community in order to thrive.
Thank you for your love and support,
Simone Jhingoor and Taij Moteelall