The Stories of Three Remarkable Jamaican Women

It is hard to get a good education or a good job in Jamaica unless you are extremely determined and motivated. A recent editorial in the national newspaper The Jamaica Gleaner says increasingly it is Jamaican women rather than Jamaican men who have the willpower and stamina to succeed despite the less than ideal education system and the highly competitive job market. I’ve had the privilege of visiting with three women here in Jamaica who have that kind of resolve and drive.

jamaican masseuseAnnette is the masseuse whose been giving my husband Dave and me weekly massages. She’s professional, excellent at her job and speaks English flawlessly without the accent that often makes people here difficult to understand. Annette is well read and can intelligently discuss any topic with clients. After being employed for several years in a beauty salon she realized the increasing number of inclusive resorts were drawing business away from the shop where she worked. She knew to get a job at a resort she’d need some kind of certificate. She used her savings to go to a college in Kingston, making the six- hour round trip daily for six months till she had a certificate as a masseuse. She’s snagged some part time work at local resorts but she’s also invested in her own massage table so she can do private business on the side. She’s already served internships in southern Ontario and Arizona and has her name on the list for one in Calgary. She’s hoping one of these internships will lead to permanent employment since she knows the only way she’ll earn sufficient funds to be independent is if she gets a job overseas and she’s determined to do just that.

jamaican woman and banana treeViolet is a sixty- year old woman who has a full time job as a housekeeper and cook at our bed and breakfast. She is utterly trustworthy and cares for the facility during the six months the owners live in Canada. Despite her good job she has created all kinds of extra businesses. She makes candy and does embroidery to market to tourists. She raises goats to sell for their meat, chickens to sell for their eggs and doves to sell as pets.  She runs a neighborhood store, buying household items in bulk and repackaging them in smaller containers to sell. She has contacts everywhere and can find you a driver, gardener, masseuse or beautician thus earning a modest referral fee.  She also grows and sells bananas. Violet has little formal education but she is innovative and extremely hardworking. She’s always looking for ways to increase her income and better care for her family.

jamaican teacher Donna just graduated from teachers college and was one of eight out a class of 140 to land a job.  She got good marks and a children’s book she wrote as a college project was submitted as an exemplar of her college’s quality in their quest for reaccreditation by the government. After graduation she got a term assignment at a private school and is anxious to prove herself there and gain permanent employment. She’s been volunteering in the same after- school program where we work because she knows the kids in our program who all attend public school are at a real disadvantage when it comes to quality instruction. Like every other young person in Jamaica however she knows her ticket to stability and independence is a job abroad so she’s applied for an internship teaching English in Japan and is considering immigration to Canada.

      There are many determined women like Donna and Annette and Violet who despite the many obstacles to success in Jamaica are working hard to get ahead and become financially secure. 

Other stories that may interest you…….

Mrs. Brown – A Jamaican Saint

The Beatitudes Come To Life

The Aviator’s Wife

The Famous Five

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Filed under Education, Jamaica, People, Travel

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