While most children are playing with their friends at age ten without a care in the world, Sattie Persaud was selling cigarettes and candy on the streets after school, doing her best to avoid her fate: an arranged marriage and motherhood by age 14:  A Sheen Exclusive by Sattie Persaud. 

I wanted something more than what was handed down through eight generations of women, including my sister. Don’t get me wrong, they are very strong women to be a parent as a teen! All women before me got married at or before 13 and were moms at or before 14. I wanted to keep going to school, luckily the opportunity was there, as my sister and I didn’t have to work on our parents’ farms, like they had to. This also helped me to avoid an arranged marriage for as long as I could. 

Sattie was born in Suriname, in a traditional Indian Family. Arranged marriages were still the norm for girls ages 12-13 and Sattie was afraid she would suffer the same fate for a tradition that she believed had not changed with the times.  

She finally agreed to an arranged marriage to the stepson of a family member located in Minneapolis, MN. This meant an opportunity for a new life in the United States of America, and she was willing to take the risk. Unfortunately, the marriage was toxic. When an uncle in Chicago invited her to stay for a few weeks, she jumped at the chance.  

Chicago was my way out of a really bad situation. I was supposed to go spend a couple of weeks with my uncle, but it ended up being the turning point for me. My Uncle supported my desire to go to school and he said, “if you don’t want to ever go back, you don’t have to, you can get a divorce.” That was that I did, I filed for a divorce and never went back.

Sattie put herself through college in Illinois, working upwards of three part-time jobs at a time. She became the first in her family to make it past the third grade and graduate college, completing a B.A. in accounting from Pace University and screenwriting from the New York Film Academy. At nineteen, she had a professional position at IBM and has since worked for UBS, Lehman Brothers, United Technologies and now at Otis. She has completed two screen plays and a novel. She was ready for something new.

At the intersection of profit or to give back, I concluded that I had accumulated enough “wealth” for myself. I’ve got my education, I wrote a novel, now, I want to give back. Receiving such a gift from the Universe, a torch to light your way out of darkness, needs to be shared! That’s how the World Heritage Cultural Center was born. I wanted something where everyone can be respected and come to the table to celebrate Humanity through the arts. Art is a very powerful tool to break down barriers. Art allows everyone to leave their judgment at the door and just embrace the Arts whether it is performing, visual or culinary, which is an art as well.

For the past 17 years, while always holding a full time job due to family obligations, Sattie has forged a network that now embraces 800 plus cultural groups across the US and Internationally, produced 246 of the largest cultural concerts of its kind, a value of over $40M, if she had to pay to recreate this (a study was done to monetize the work her nonprofit did over 15 years pre-pandemic). With a great Board and friends of WHCC, we accomplished a herculean task! Together we can change the world!

For 2023, Sattie is ready for Phase Two, a physical location for the World Heritage Cultural Center (WHCC). She is looking to build in Southern Connecticut, in the Sandy Hook Community where she currently lives with her parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Sattie is also working on a project to bring the WHCC’s International Film Festival to the community of Sandy Hook.

Sattie is a guiding light for women of all cultures. She has single-handedly broken down many barriers. She embraces her faith in everything she completes. While she has faced some adversity for her idea in building a physical location for the WHCC, she sees this as an opportunity. 

“Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone gets a voice to do so. For those that are so fortunate for that opportunity, the hope is that we use that power to inspire the human spirit.” 

Visit the World Heritage Cultural Center to learn more about their mission and their goals for the future at 

Photo Credits: Sattie Persaud