SOLD by her father to someone in Bermuda at the age of one year and eight months, she faced a life of virtual enslavement before finally achieving her breakthrough. Today Melisa 'Melody' Dyce, 31, is a staunch Christian and a symbol of success — a woman who is passionate about the cause of preventing human and sex trafficking.
Born in Claverty Cottage, Portland, Dyce told All Woman that she became acquainted with Jamaica at the age of 21 after her birth mother made contact with her. It was then that she learnt of the fateful transaction which would chart the course of her dismal early years abroad, leading to a painful adolescence and a wayward young adult life.
“My birth mother told me that a lady had married a relative of a family friend and came to Jamaica, saw me, liked me, and begged [to take] me and a cousin of mine. My mother said no. But the lady kept pressuring, and eventually my mother was tricked into signing adoption papers without reading them. She said they told her I would be back every summer and Christmas, and I would just go to school in Bermuda. They pushed it, and my father and the woman made a deal,” Dyce said.
“A relative on my father's side told me that it was pretty obvious that he received money and perks, as he was given a room in a house, left to run a shop the individuals owned that sold groceries and clothes, and someone's wedding was paid for. My mother initially wasn't aware of the dealings, as she never received anything,” she explained.
At the outset, her biological parents may have thought her life was a bed of roses, but Dyce shared that by the age of five or six she was made to do almost every household chore and was constantly beaten, and even though she had friends, she feared speaking out as she was threatened with dire consequences.
By the time she was 10, she was the caregiver for a bedridden grandmother. She said she remembers being burnt by a hot curling iron, and even chopped and stabbed when things went wrong. Subsequently, school became her escape. She was placed on the principal's honour roll, but even that was not good enough.
“I'd be beaten for anything. I worked really hard to gain approval and school was my getaway, but no one knew because she [my adoptive mother] threatened that if I told anyone she would kill me,” she said.
Eventually child labour and drug addiction became the norm for her. At age 11 she was packing bags at a grocery store; smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol at 14; given cashier duties at 15 while also working at a pizza store and a hotel; and at 16, she made a decision to leave high school to “work full-time and party all night”.
Things got worse when she turned 18, fell out of grace with her adoptive mother, and was kicked out of the house. With nowhere to go, Dyce used her earnings to buy a tent and barbecue grill and lived on the beach for a while, before a friend's parent allowed her to stay with them when a hurricane threat was issued.
After spending a year with her friend, Dyce's turning point came when she decided to become a Christian.
But she was pressured by her friends to return to her old ways, and after five months of resisting, she succumbed to peer pressure and once more “took a draw” of marijuana. This time the effects were catastrophic. She went temporarily blind.
“This is when my friend's little sister, Destiny, brought me a book, told me to read it and said, 'You're Paul'. When I opened the book I could hardly see, but I started reading about the Damascus experience, and my sight was [miraculously] restored. I was left in awe, eventually found a church, and set my life straight,” she said.
Now yearning for more, Dyce made contact with her high school principal, who helped her to get an internship at the Bermuda Royal Gazette as she had an interest in journalism. She was also encouraged by the principal to get her General Education Development testing subjects, which she did.
By this time Dyce had made contact with her family in Jamaica and decided to return home. Not only was she seeking answers, but she entertained hopes of attending the University of the West Indies. But instead of being encouraged to pursue this venture, she was told that she could not compete with current media workers. She also faced resentment from her biological family and was left to fend for herself in a country with which she was unfamiliar.
Refusing to falter, she decided to pick up the pieces and start afresh. That was when she met the man who would become the father of her children. He helped her get back on her feet.
Thereafter, she landed a gig in 2014 doing marketing for Jermaine Edwards, began working for Sutherland Global in 2015, and has managed a number of gospel acts including Sean Lypher and DJ Rebirth.
She was eventually drafted to do voice-overs. She worked for Ariff Butler from Bloozik Music, did interviews, and started her journey in media as an independent practitioner under the label Mel Melody Music.
Next on her agenda is preaching the word of God and becoming a mentor to young girls.
“I follow Isaiah 54:17, and my message to young women is this: No matter who you are, where you go, what they say about you, once you have a connection with God, He can turn everything around. Your situation might be going south, but He can take it and send it up north.”