Shamed on social media, baker Shania Moonsammy releases message to Trinidad

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Shamed on social media, baker Shania Moonsammy releases message to Trinidad
Young baker Shania Moonsammy
Young baker Shania Moonsammy

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality Institute (TTHTI) Brian Frontin is just one of many people that has rushed to assist Shania Moonsammy, the owner of the online cake store Oh Yum Yumm.

Frontin said, “Shania’s story and most recent experience were indeed compelling as it highlighted the dreams and desires of a young lady on an entrepreneurial pathway who experienced a significant reality check. The most admirable aspect of the past 24 hours has been this young lady’s acknowledgement of learning gaps and her strong, expressed commitment to self-betterment and skills enhancement. Moments like these, particularly when they occur with our young citizens, should always result in positive responses by individuals and institutions who have the capacity to facilitate growth and development. It was therefore a very easy decision of the TTHTI to welcome Ms Moonsammy to the Institute’s upcoming Cake Decorating course and provide her with structured skills development and industry best practices.”

Moonsammy, 20 received heavy criticisms after one of her cakes went viral.

The self-taught baker defended her work, but the disparaging remarks continued.

There were several jokes and memes on the basketball-themed cake.

(Left) The cake used as a model for the cake Dana Pierre received (centre and right) from Oh Yum Yumm.

The cake which some people on social media have called a ‘disaster cake’ also caught the attention of international news website, The Shade Room.

A Facebook post by Dana Pierre on Saturday about a cake she order from the local cake store for her partner’s birthday virtually opened a floodgate of comments online. Pierre attached two photos showing what she wanted and what she actually got.

Despite the slew of negative remarks Moonsammy received since the post on Saturday, there’s a silver lining to the story.

Radio personality Kerron Sealey more commonly known as “Sunny Bling” has also stepped forward to assist Moonsammy with beginner and advanced classes at the Central School of Culinary Arts in Chaguanas.

The Mentorship Initiative, a group comprised of local and international professionals have also come to the forefront to assist the 20 year old aspiring baker.

Chef Kelly Athanas, a member of the group said, “We have a mix of bakers, PR consultants, accountants, marketers, entrepreneurs, and of course chefs. We also have graphic and web designers. The purpose of the group is to enhance the development of young upstarts, providing them with a knowledge base and sounding board.”

While some people might pause before helping a stranger, Athanas did not.

He said, “Seeing what I consider to be learning/ growing mistakes being touted as failure and having been there through my journey as a chef, encouraged me to speak up and get involved.”

Moonsammy is a self-taught baker, and has only been baking for the past four years.

MOONSAMMY’S MESSAGE

On Wednesday morning, Moonsammy posted this on her Facebook page.

As many of you know, my 2019 ended in a way that I would have never expected in my wildest dreams. I woke up on Saturday thinking it would have been an ordinary day, but boy was I wrong.

When I first saw that I was reviewed publicly by my client, I thought ok, that happens. But when I realized that more and more people were sharing it, including popular social media pages both locally and internationally, I was embarrassed. But to be honest, I was devastated.

I cried. Then I tried to make it better by sharing my side of the story on my page. It made it worse. So I shared screenshots, to let people see what had transpired, but that didn’t help. It was not a nice feeling knowing that people all over the world were laughing at you. It is one that I would not want to wish on anyone.

But in darkness, there is always light.

If I didn’t have support of my partner and close family and friends, I don’t know what I would have done. Then something amazing happened. People that I didn’t even know stepped up to change the situation.

Kristal Manswell, made a post on Sunday called “Let’s Help Oh Yum Yumm” and posted on several platforms asking members of the private sector to reach out to me to help change the situation. On Monday Jacqueline Ramoutarsigh, a professional baker, contacted me along with Newsday offering me a free cake decorating course. She let me know that I could visit her at any time which is truly amazing.

People I never met in my life, was calling, messaging my page wishing me words of support and inspiration. It was a total turnaround, and I’m thankful for all the bakers and persons that contacted me offering help. Saturday night, I was in my room, crying, wondering how the world could be so harsh. On Monday I had hope again for humanity. But not everyone that goes through this, would have this blessing. Not everyone has a support system or be this strong. Not everyone can handle public ridicule and bounce back. Some people might fall into depression. Some might have attempted to commit suicide.

So I’m pleading on T&T to take a stance, starting with me.

It’s a New Year. A year to start fresh. So I want to share my New Year Resolution with everyone and hope you join me. Here are the things I plan to do:

1. Learn and develop my skills. I will be attending courses to improve my decorating as well as my business. I’m excited for this.

2. I want to make a difference. While I was able to laugh a bit at some of the memes, some of the comments posted on my page were not funny. Some were straight up mean. I want to take a stance against cyber bullying and I need your help.

3. Out of every bad situation, came a good. Kristal and her team formed a Youth Mentorship Support Group, where entrepreneurs will be meeting young people that are now starting off their business to offer help. There are many more like me that need guidance and support.

It’s the start of a whole new decade. I want to help other people that are in the same situation, I was, on Saturday. To Marios and Kiss, those memes were funny but let’s all work together to take a negative situation and use it as a beacon to make a better T&T. Let us ensure that 2020 is a year for kindness.

Let us #PassItOn

Many shared my cakes, the memes and jokes, but I hope we join together to share something positive.

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