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Women in History: Early Successful Guyanese Women of Chinese Descent

Martha nee Fung Kee Fung was one of the earliest female business owners in Guyana (1800s). She became a landed proprietor who owned many businesses including a rice mill. She bought two abandoned sugar estates Waller’s Delight and Ruimzight at Windsor Forest which she rented to tenants to plant rice. Martha Street in Windsor Forrest is named for her.

  • Sarah Lam-a-Poo born in 1870, was the grandmother of Errol “Ping” Gillette, Guyana’s first Ombudsman after independence. She went into business as a young woman making Chinese cakes and Minshee, a seasoning produced from beans in her home.
  • Asin Ho a Shoo has the distinction of being one of Guyana’s first medical doctors in the first decade of the 20th century. She entered the University of Edinburgh, 1906 to study in the field of Medicine. In 1912 she was a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons at University of Dublin. She went on to obtain a Diploma in Public Health from the University of Dublin and become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • Asin’s daughter Gem Ho a Hing became a Junior Champion at Wimbledon, the only Guyanese to play there. Born in 1921, Gem was by far the shortestworld class tennis player of her generation, and perhaps of all time, standing well under five feet. Her height was 4 feet 9 1/2 inches (1.46 metres). Crowds inevitably cheered for the tiny Chinese girl with British citizenship. Gem never won a major or reached the world’s top ten. What she did capture was many hearts. Gem’s last performance at Wimbledon came in 1957, when she bowed out to eventual champion Althea Gibson.

    1953 Tennis Player Gem Hoahing at the Junior Tennis Championship
    1953 Tennis Player Gem Hoahing at the Junior Tennis Championship
  • Cheu Leen Ho a Shoo, another first generation Guyanese Chinese, who married Robert Evan Wong, in 1941 was appointed by the then Government as a Member of the Board of Governors for Bishops’ High School, her old alma mater.
  • Rosalind Fung/Lee was Miss Guyana in 1956 and also won the contest among the three Guianas. This earned her the right to represent the three countries at the Miss Universe contest in Hollywood.
  • Doreen Pamela Chung nee’ Ng See Quan became the first woman to be given the status of first lady of Guyana after independence in 1966. Mrs. Chung was the wife of Guyana’s first President Arthur Chung, who died on June 23, 2008. She served as First Lady during Chung’s presidency from March 1970 – October 1980. Like her husband, Mrs. Chung was born at Windsor Forest on the West Coast of Demerara. The couple remained married for 54 years, until Mr Chung’s death. Two children came from the union, Raymond and Diane.
  • Doreen Chow Wah/Lee became the West Indies Table Tennis champion in 1970 and with Denise Osman won the ladies Doubles Championship 1967-1972.
  • An even more amazing achievement went to Ada Akai who became Deputy Head Mistress of the then all boys Queen’s College in 1974, an “almost unheard of feat at that time in the country’s history”,
  • Debbie Fung was not only a lecturer at the University of Guyana but was the Ladies Singles Lawn Tennis Champion in 1984 and with her sister Caryll won the Ladies Doubles Championship in 1974, 1975, 1980 and 1983-1985 while another, Diane Lee was Sportswoman of the year 1986.
Gem Hoahing in play during her semi-final match with Mrs. P. Panton during the Surrey Junior Hard Court Tennis Championships being held at Roehampton today. Miss Hoahing won.
Gem Hoahing in play during her semi-final match with Mrs. P. Panton during the Surrey Junior Hard Court Tennis Championships being held at Roehampton, London . Miss Hoahing won

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