AFP did a very moving article earlier this week about one of our favourite islandistas, Shelly-Ann Fraser.
The feature is all about Shelly’s determination to be a role model, particularly in light of growing up in the gritty ghetto of Waterhouse, Kingston.
The piece deals very directly with the stark poverty Shelly was raised in:
Fraser has come a long way from the the drug-infested, crime-ridden Kingston slum of Waterhouse that she grew up in. At first Fraser’s mother couldn’t afford to even send her to school. The family had no money so they would often go to bed hungry.
One of her best friends died in childbirth at age 12 and she witnessed first hand the violence that plagued the Waterhouse district.
Raised by a single parent, Fraser’s family lived off the trinkets and second hand goods that her street-vendor mother sold.
“She would come in sometimes from work and say she didn’t make any money today so we couldn’t buy anything,” said Fraser.
The Wolmer’s grad also shared her vision for Jamaica, and spoke of how women, like her own mother, are often hindered when teenaged pregnancy disrupts their education.
When the young girls in my country become pregnant and they don’t have education they are stuck in the same situation as their parents. It is a cycle.
“It is bad, but a lot more can be done to try and teach people. It is hard when you can’t afford to feed your children.
“You have to have a plan. You have to sit down and say this is what I want for myself and this is what I need to do to get there.”
“Education needs to be the number one focus in our country.