Heman Somai and Patricia Raghunandan: Working for the Community!

Patricia Raghunandan with Heman Somai. They do wonderful work in the community.

By Dr Dhanpaul Narine

You see them at various places in the community. They give of their time and resources to help bring comfort to others. During the Covid-19 pandemic, in which there are so many uncertainties, it is reassuring to know that there are persons that truly care. These noble souls are Heman Soman and Patricia Raghunandan. Heman is from Surinam and Patricia is from Guyana, and together, they make a great team. On most weekends they can be seen delivering food and masks, and other supplies, to those in need.

Heman was born in a family of eight in the Rice District of Nickerie, Van Drimmelen Polder, in Surinam. Heman was always interested in music. His best friend Anand Badri was in singing and they practiced with Mr. Algoe, the music teacher. His Aja told him to be original and to carve his own way. Heman was still a teenager when he formed his own band, ‘Hemant and Friends’ and the band focused on ‘Baithak Gana’ and Chutney Style Music under the direction of Ustad Mr. Prem Ghirrao. In 2008, Heman made a giant step that was to change his life in profound ways. He arrived in New York but it was not easy to get into his style of music. He met with Pandit Narotam from the Gauri Ganesh Mandir. Heman had known Pandit Narotam from Surinam and he was most helpful. Heman also met with Babloe Shankar and his son Sailesh in Surinam and they gave him valuable advice. Heman is grateful to Balram Rambrich, and Pandit Goolsaran from the Arya Samaj USA, for their support.

It did not take long for Heman to start his own band ‘Melody Brothers.’ This proved to be fruitful because it led to a meeting with Patricia Raghunandan who became his manager. Heman is grateful to Patricia, because with her guidance and managerial skills, Baithak Gana is now enjoyed by a wider audience. Heman has become a permanent fixture at cultural functions. He has made several appearances on television and radio and he has performed with many international stars. Heman thanks Buddy Singh, who is a star in his own right. Buddy has given Heman the exposure to sing in his shows.

In 2011, Heman won second place at the Baithak Gana contest that was organized by the Indo-Caribbean Federation in New York. As members of the Queens Community Lion’s Club, Heman and Patricia began to serve meals to the needy and it grew into food pantries and door-to-door service. They are grateful to Rohan Narine from the Community Affairs Unit of the NYC Mayor’s Office for the mask distribution.

Patricia Raghunandan hails from Good Hope in Mahaica, in Guyana. She was educated at Mahaica Primary, at the Ashram at Cove and John and Bygeval at Mahaica. She migrated to the United States in 1987. The family lived in Brooklyn but later moved to Queens. Meeting with Heman was definitely a wonderful moment in her life. They began to participate in various cultural events in the community. She met Inderjeet Paul on Facebook and she and Heman joined the Queens Lion’s Club. During the past few weeks they have served in many communities. They have also met many wonderful persons that include Mike Myers, Rohan Narine, Sam Esposito, and others. They distribute food hampers and they also do a free delivery service.

Patricia and Heman derive great satisfaction in serving the community. She said that her grandfather Pandit Balkishun Gossai told her that she must always remember her roots. She would like to thank the many donors that have brought comfort to the lives of the needy. The donors include Bibi Bethune from ‘GT Kingston’, Shivram’s Bakery, Bena Home Care, Aveena Home Care, and others.

Patricia and Heman are doing truly remarkable work in the community. Heman’s singing talents have rubbed off on Rajendra Dhanpat, the son of Patricia, and he could be the next big star. Heman has already been spotted for a movie to be produced by Lena Shockley. The future looks bright for the Heman and Patricia partnership. We are proud of them and we wish them well.