Being an illiterate Adult in any country is extremely debilitating. Aside from the sheer shame of illiteracy there is the economic reality of low wages and hard labour for life.
If it sounds like a sentence… it is.
Minimum wages in Jamaica are 1000.00 Jamaica Dollars a day (10-12 hrs). That’s 9.00 US. No one can raise a family on $9.00 a day. The lack of education also leads to thousands of teenage pregnancies every year and absent Fathers. This cycle has/does repeat itself … fulfilling the prophecy of shame, poverty, crime and profound sadness. Women having to feed babies do “whatever it takes” to feed themselves and their children. Men often get involved with illegal activities to feed themselves first and then look to help their Women and Children when they can. Children are the responsibility of the parents until the age of 18. After that it is possible for those children to be “put out”, to be on their own.
Expansion and travel is dramatically curtailed to those who cannot read the signs and maneuver in a literate society. Many entire rural families have never been to Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston, where it remains a dream and aspiration to see. To be an illiterate Adult in Jamaica is to live a very small life filled with the same people, problems and discouragement that can become a consciousness and life sentence for generations. Parents work hard and pray often that their children will not suffer the same fate of illiteracy. It will break your heart to see a young Mother cry as she cannot afford to send her children to school because she sees the familiarity of her own life and the child’s fate of the future.
This can change!!
There is nothing more heart warming to fill your eyes with tears and parental pride than to see a country road filled with children going to school all dressed in School Uniforms. No matter what country village or ghetto they come from when they leave their homes, the children are so excited in their freshly pressed and washed uniform you would not know their origins. School is also the greatest social experience they will ever have. It is here, where they learn about the give and take of life. It is here, where they learn to work together and live in harmony and resolve the issues that are bound to come up in the Human existence. Jealousies, competition and reward are all part of growing up. Over the years of schooling, students learn the social skills of living together in an acceptable harmony having to go through the life lessons of conflict resolutions. Having a problem with a student or Teacher is eventually ironed out and life goes on. Children who stay in school at least until they graduate High School, have organized thought processes that will lead to a job or an entrepreneurial mind to create a company or service to earn money.
When this school privilege is removed, conflict resolutions are not experiential, and shame and anger take the place of common sense and common respect that might have been learned in class. When the Human mind cannot see beyond its immediate shame, guilt and frustration, it reverts to its primal instincts to remove or destroy what ever the perceived problem is. That is when life becomes cheap in Jamaica and why it is one of the Murder Capitals of the world. Last winter in Negril not one week passed when multiple murders did not take place somewhere in the immediate region; and the theft/robberies are innumerable.
To me, these are the most interesting people in the world. Their history is slavery and piracy. Not a great start. Deeply Christian in their belief, faith and trust in God is profound. Embedded in the Jamaican culture is the rich subculture of Rastafari. Rastafarians see themselves as One with Nature and Life. They allow their hair to grow to braids and approach life from a very unique perspective. Peace, love and respect is their outward message and is often the words you will hear from them as a Salutation when passing on the street … even to strangers … like you and me.
Their word for Natural, Organic and Pure is “ITAL”. Hence ITAL PLACE. Rasta’s believe that “common sense” and mutual “reasoning” is the answer to life’s questions. Due to illiteracy we come and “REASON” together.
Hard working, inventive, curious and happy are the basic tenants of Jamaicans. They love to be social and party. A night of celebration on the beach or in a country village will be an event that you will remember forever. They love to laugh and sing and only enjoy it more when they can share it with Visitors. They love who they are and are more than willing to share that Energy.
Wondrous, romantic, exciting and dark secrets exist in Jamaica. Jamaica is made up of many different nationalities, customs and cultures. It is the home of the Maroon people. The Maroon’s are the only nation of people that the British Army every sought a Peace Treaty with. Not Germany, Japan or Russia … the Maroons. Why? ... because they couldn’t be defeated in the Jungles of Jamaica.
Jamaica is truly rich with convention, folklore and stories of Obeah (Voodoo). Watch as eyes widen sitting at the feet of Old Men and Women sharing their life’s experience of history and the occult. Read between the lines that living in Jamaica is like living in a National Geographic Movie with a plot and sub plot. Laid back but never dull. Soul nourishing but dangerous. Moth to the Flame. Jamaica is the Man/Woman your parents warned you about.Projects