IN a desperate bid to survive, a boy in rural Jamaica has turned to working in ganja fields, reaping the illegal weed in order to buy his meals.
But while his actions would be considered illegal and he could have been arrested and later imprisoned if the police had caught him, the lad said that he had no choice.
“My mother don’t treat me good, Miss,” he told the Jamaica Observer in an interview days ago.
“She do me whole heap of things, Miss, like she don’t give me any food for two days straight. I have to be going to ganja bush to pick weed and then she cuss mi ’cause she don’t want me to go there. But I have to go ganja bush, Miss. Because anytime she cook she only give it to the other two children them and don’t look pon me, Miss.”
A relative of the child confirmed that he has in fact been left to fend for himself.
“His parents do not care,” the relative stated. “He has no birth certificate, no vaccination paper, no baptismal paper, has to fend for himself, and is dirty all the time. This child has to fend for himself to eat, wash his own clothes and walk on the road daily.”
It is a situation that has affected the boy psychologically.
“I feel bad because I was the only one in the field and everybody else a pure big man,” he stated.
He said that when he goes to pick the crop he would be given $500 per day which he would use to purchase his meals. However, he said that the crop is seasonal and so the work is not consistent. Therefore, after buying himself something to eat he would put aside some to take him into the next day.
“When I get money — like how mi have a little phone now — I would buy phone card and buy food and have money for the next day,” he said.
What made him feel even worse, he said, is having the men in the field often belittling him.
“Because is me alone as little boy and is pure big man, they always cuss mi ’bout mi fi go a school. That did make mi feel a way, Miss, but mi never used to answer because mi never have nothing to say,” the child said.
But despite feeling cheated by his mother, the child said that he still intends to grow up, get a respectable job and work to help support her.
“I would do it, Miss,” he said. “But all wah day she a cuss mi, and she say she should a do what my auntie say she did fi do — kill mi when mi still deh in a belly. I did feel bad when she say that, Miss.”
The child’s mother, who refused to be interviewed, and who declared that she had no interest in having her ‘business go public’, finally admitted to loving her son when the Sunday Observer asked her if she did.
“Of course mi love mi son,” was all she said.
Others in the community admitted to having knowledge of the child’s survival skills and have even discouraged his actions by helping to provide for him and showing him the dangers of his ‘job’.
“I always see him around, but I never know that was what he did,” one community member told the Sunday Observer. “He told us that sometimes he didn’t get anything to eat. So I told my daughter that even if I am not home she should cook and leave for him so whenever he comes he would get it.”
It was after seeing him appearing at her house late at nights that she decided to question him about his whereabouts and he confessed to her that he was coming from the ganja field.
“I told him not to go to those places. I said you don’t see that I don’t send my children to those places?” she said. “So I try to assist him as much as I can.”
But the child said he does not feel at home in his mother’s house, especially since he eats breakfast, dinner, and washes his clothes at another home in the community. The only times he goes home is to sleep.
“All the other day, the lady [where he eats] daughter say that mi come een like her little brother and mi feel good ’bout that,” the child added with a smile.