3>People of Jamaica
Samika, 1 1/2, at the River
by Sarah Stone
There we were, a few others from YBB and I, walking down to the river being led by the most adorable young boys. There were quite a few people down there, but nobody else from our group. And then there was Samika. The most adorable black beauty that one could ever lay their eyes on. She was just standing there, all 36 inches of her and all smiles. I could see nearly all of her deep colored skin because she had no shorts on. She had no underwear on either. Where were they? In her hands. She was being a responsible young one-and-a-half year old and she was washing her own underwear in the river.
As I noticed this little girl, my heart stopped for a moment with sheer joy. This was a sight that will bring a smile to my face forevermore. As I knelt down beside her, my eyes nearly level with hers, I began to talk to her about what she was doing, and as she looked up at me with her innocent, caring smile her hands forgot what they were doing and the small piece of cloth underwear was released into the current.
She gazed after the underwear with a look that expressed confusion, sadness, happiness and wonderment of the floating object all in one. I stepped into the water quickly to try to retrieve them. However I was not quick enough; for the current, swifter than my legs, began to carry them downstream. Jason, still on the path, began to move downstream in hopes of catching them. He got within half a foot where they were suspended by a piece of debris lodged in the water. Just as his fingers reached out to grasp them, they broke free and went floating on downstream.
Jason wasn't the only one trying to help. This adorable little girl had unknowingly brought much attention to herself. Two other people from the village went scrambling down the path to retrieve her underwear. However, not one of us was successful and the river decided to keep the garment, at least for awhile.
Losing a pair of underwear may seem trivial, but for a Jamaican child, it might be all she has.
by Angela Romo
At the young age of 15, Trecia is faced with challenges some of us will never have to worry about. A normal day for her would consist of caring for her four younger siblings. Her older brother Linville, who is 20, also helps with this task. But when it comes to her two month old daughter Danesha, Trecia is basically on her own. The baby's father, who is only 16 and not married to her, lives an hour away in Kingston and hardly ever comes around.
To add to the difficulty, both Trecia's parents are gone. Her mother died just two weeks before Danesha was born, and her father lives on a different island. He sends money regularly, but only visits every two or three months.
To go to High School in Jamaica, students have to pass a test and pay tuition. Trecia passed the test, but because she was pregnant, she was not permitted in school. Her hopes of becoming a nurse looked impossible. She made plans to go back to school this year, with her older brother Linville caring for Danesha during the day.
Despite all the trials and tribulations she has been confronted with, Trecia is one of the happiest people I met in Hagley Gap. In my opinion, she is an excellent example of a young woman who doesn't believe in giving up.
Unfortunately, just two weeks after we left Jamaica Danesha got a nose-bleed and without a doctor available quickly passed away. Although Trecia mentioned that she didn't enjoy taking care of a baby, I truly felt that Danesha was her pride and joy. I saw her happiness and how proud she was when I watched her holding Danesha and talking to her. More than likely Trecia will return to school, but the death of her two month old daughter will always remain with her.
Since our visit Trecia has bravely met her challenges. Last year she moved to Kingston to repeat the 9th grade and begin again. Although she dearly loved Danesha, Trecia told Angela she wants to get an education and a good job so that when she brings another child into this world she can provide for all of its needs.