Another side of the “baby barrel” phenomenon | New

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The Caribbean is home to many children called “baby barrels”. These are children whose parents have gone to work abroad to seek a better life for themselves and their families. Baby barrels receive clothing and food from the emigrant parent who also sends funds to meet the daily needs of their children.

Kimberly Johnson of Retreat District, St Thomas, knows all about this kind of life. After losing his father at the age of seven and watching his mother migrate two years later, Johnson was placed in the care of his grandmother. Johnson said Family and religion that people have always called her a barrel child.

“It’s certainly not as bad as people claim. I’ve never been in need. There was never a time when I wasn’t without school supplies, clothes or food. My mom was “ensured I was always comfortable and lacked for anything. All my needs were met,” said the 23-year-old who admitted she could still be considered a barrel baby.

According to an analysis carried out by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2000, the phenomenon of barrel children is widely recognized as a major problem in Jamaica, as its negative impact stems from the fact that many of these children are left without. parental or adult supervision. supervision, but with wide access to remittances and barrels of items.

Johnson, however, excludes himself from these statistics.

According to her: “When my mother left, I was too young to understand what was going on. But she left me with my grandmother, a woman with whom we have lived all my life. Grandma and I have always had a great relationship, being raised by her only brings us closer. “

Now entering her final year at the University of Technology, Johnson has revealed that she understands her mother’s decision to migrate.

“She did it out of love, so we could all live comfortable lives. We were never a family in trouble, but my mother had a plan and migration was the only way to execute it.”

Although her mother isn’t there for her physically, Johnson said her absence hasn’t hurt her emotionally.

“Yes, I missed my mother but we always kept our relationship. Being her only child at the time, she made sure that the bond was maintained. We wrote to each other often and I received postcards at the time. special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas, and I was mailing her pictures. It was back when technology wasn’t that great. Now we can video chat and communicate on a daily basis. “

Not only is she a testament to their continued communication, but Johnson also revealed that her mother “was, is and always will be his best friend.”

“The absence of mom hasn’t affected the mother-daughter relationship we have because she reaches out and always does her part. We can talk about anything. She’s the first person I call if I having a bad day or if I have news to share. She always offers a listening ear and is always there, so even though I can’t touch or hug her the way I would like, we still have a great relationship. She’s still my dearest friend, “Johnson said.

When asked about some of the issues some barrel kids face, such as depression, withdrawal and other behavioral issues, Johnson was quick to dismiss the idea.

She said, “I’m one of the most confident, outgoing, and grateful people I know. Mom has helped me become that way. My smile is real and my laughter comes from deep within me. I am a happy barrel baby. “

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