From Prisoner to Author: The Inspirational Life of Laurie Ann Thavenot
  Nerissa Hosein
FEATURES
August 2022

All photographs are courtesy of Laurie Ann Thavenot.

 

Everything happens for a reason. All persons have their individual journeys that will lead them to where they are meant to be. That is the belief that Laurie Ann Thavenot has about life and I must say that after speaking with her, you will believe it too. Laurie Ann has lived through a lot in her life and faced many trials and tribulations, but she has not one regret in it all, as she believes that they led her to where she is today, and in her mind to who she was always meant to be. 

                              Laurie Ann Thavenot

 

Laurie Ann was born in 1981 in Arima, Trinidad. Her parents relocated to Diego Martin shortly after that and she spent most of her childhood there. Her childhood was pretty normal. She loved her life with her brother and enjoyed school at St Monica’s Preparatory, then later on at Providence Girls High School. 

 

At thirteen, things shifted in her life as her parents got divorced and she moved in with her dad’s parents. It was a hard time for her, as divorce is never easy and usually the ones that feel the brunt of it are the children involved. Laurie Ann was no different. She threw herself into school and socialising as it helped her to deal with the breakdown of her home life. 

 

After secondary school she went to secretarial school and had many odd jobs such as being a waitress, a nail technician and a salesperson at a card shop. She travelled a bit also, to the USA and Canada. As she grew up, she started to experiment with alcohol and partying. She frequented local clubs and enjoyed the fast life for a while. It helped her to numb her pain and deal with the fallout that was still happening from her parents’ divorce. The constant battling between the families traumatised her to a point where she hated Christmas because it meant sharing her time between two homes, and she did not care for all the pulling and tugging. 

 

At 17, after a night of partying, she was walking home when someone approached her and snatched her handbag and phone. She recounts fighting for her belongings with the thief, rolling on the ground and trying her best to hold on to her items. Alas, this would only be her first brush with crime.

 

    Laurie Ann enjoys a relaxing moment at the beach

 

In her early twenties, while out on a date, Laurie Ann and her friend were kidnapped. She remembers it as if it were yesterday. They were out at a popular night club having a great time. She had one of her prized possessions, an heirloom ring that her grandmother had given her, and she was feeling pretty confident about the evening. After they left the club, they went to buy corn soup and sat in the car while they were eating. That’s when two armed men came up to either side of the car and forced them to get into the back seat. Her friend and her were blindfolded and driven around the Queen’s Park Savannah. She was so scared that she almost blacked out. She remembers that they picked up a woman who demanded their bank cards and information. She was stripped of her jewelry and forced to lie down in the back seat. They were taken to a house where they were tied up and beaten. Her friend got the worst of it. The ordeal lasted hours and Laurie Ann thought that she was going to die. Eventually the kidnappers told them that it was a case of mistaken identity, led them back through the house to the car and forced them inside, blindfolded. They drove them to a field and dropped them off. After a while Laurie Ann and her friend were able to free themselves and remove the blindfolds. They had been dropped off somewhere in the back of Piarco and thankfully her friend had family who lived not very far from there and he recognized the area. They were able to reach to safety and call the police. To this day no one has been charged for the crime.  But the scars were inflicted and the trauma was real. 

 

Laurie Ann stayed with her grandmother after to recuperate from the ordeal. Eventually she recovered enough to move out on her own and open her own business, The Gopher. The company offered services of running personal errands, private taxi and courier carriers. Life started going well for her again and she was proud of herself.

 

By late 2014, Laurie Ann had built a certain comfort zone for herself. She enjoyed entertaining and having a good time. It was in one of those parties that she met an old friend who quietly introduced her to drug use. Soon, she started using drugs frequently but in moderation so her drug use did not disrupt her life. At least not yet. She gradually became a more recreational user but still initially managed to keep her business and personal life afloat.

 

That all came crashing down in 2015, when she made the decision to help out a friend and deliver a package for someone. Unfortunately, that package contained drugs and Laurie Ann was arrested for trafficking illegal substances. Life stopped. She was charged and spent two weeks in prison before she was released on bail. She lost her business, her home and her good stature in her circle. She moved in with her father and her stepmother and started to reflect on her life.

 

She was at a crossroads. While awaiting her trial she started doing her own community service by volunteering at food banks, helping to arrange hampers for the less fortunate and helping out at the hospice. She wanted to be able to give back, to connect with people and to do good for others.  She began working with the Living Waters Community and started taking an active interest in their existence, learning as much as she could learn, going to prayer meetings and volunteering with them at Trinity TV. It was at this station that she first started to dabble in camera operations and pre-production. She then started toying with publication and even published her first story, titled Ana’s Story

 

         Laurie Ann enjoying a Christmas moment

 

As much as she enjoyed the work she was doing with Living Water Community, Laurie Ann was facing her own pain, as her mom was diagnosed with cancer. She stayed with her and carried her to radiation and spent every weekend with her. It is one of the highlights of her life, because even though her mom was sick, they were so close and their love grew so much more during that time. 

 

In June 2018, she finally went on trial where she was found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison. It was a hard time for her but she faced it with grace. She knew her faith would help her through it and she was committed to atoning for her mistakes. 

 

Sadly, while she was serving time, her mom passed away. She was not allowed to go to the funeral, but was granted permission to view the body. For less than half an hour, she was able to sit with her father, brother and stepfather and say goodbye to the woman that gave her life. She felt numb and in shock, but was still able to pull herself together for those few moments and say a Divine Mercy Rosary for her mother. Although she had officers with her, she was allowed to hug her family and give her mother one last kiss on her forehead.  Even though it was a very dark time, she was grateful for the compassion shown by the officers in the prison. They were all so compassionate and kind to her during that period, with the Acting Superintendent even getting a dress for her to attend the viewing. With compassion and her faith she started a journal in prison, writing her feelings, inspirational messages and thoughts on healing and forgiveness. 

 

In December 2018, she was released from prison and knew right away that she wanted to do more with her life. Laurie Ann knew that her story was one that could help others and that her faith could be a beacon to many. She took her journal from prison and decided to mould it into her first book, The Mercy Dare, 40 Days of Healing and Forgiveness. The book was published in 2020 and is written with 40 installments, based on meditation, prayer and passages that helped her through her dark times. It is loosely based on her journey and how she found the strength, through God, to get through it. 

 

 

During the pandemic she started reaching out even more and through her Mercy Dare foundation she has managed to help people to spiritually, inspirationally and mentally survive. She goes live every Tuesday on her social media platforms and encourages people to watch, as she knows that her faith has led her through many trying times and it is exactly what is needed for many right now. She and her team try to assist with their charity work as much as they can and encourage people to reach out to them so they can try to offer support. She knows that she was given this chance and is alive in this pandemic to help others and that is exactly what she is trying to do. 

 

 

Laurie Ann has surely been through more in her forty-one years than most people go through in their lifetimes. But there is no bitterness or jaded thoughts. There is only gratitude and an understanding that she is meant to do more. With two more books planned out and a social media platform geared towards connecting, inspiring and helping others, she is set to do great things. She has no regrets and would not change a single thing that has happened to her, for every step, every failure, every tear and every heartache has led her to where she is today. 

 

Check her on Instagram and Facebook:

https://www.instagram.com/merdarett3369/

https://www.facebook.com/The-Mercy-Dare-101155723926062

 

Copies of her book can be purchased through the Living Water Community or by contacting her directly on any of her social media platforms.

 

All photographs are courtesy of Laurie Ann Thavenot.

 

 

By: Nerissa Hosein | FEATURES | August 2022


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