Mama Joy awarded

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer

Monday, October 25, 2010

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SHE has lived a life dedicated to the hundreds of children she has mothered over the past three decades, and like most unsung heroes, did so without much fanfare. But last Friday, 61-year-old Joy Marilyn Baker or 'Mama Joy', was acknowledged for her sterling contribution to her Central Kingston community by the FirstCaribbean International Bank under their Unsung Heroes Programme.


Mama Joy, who was featured in All Woman in June of this year, was one of three persons nominated by the bank for their selfless service to the country. This was after reviewing the contributions of scores of other nominees across the island who had used their oftentimes limited resources to help the less fortunate.


"She takes care of a lot of children single-handedly. She is one of those community persons," chairman of the Unsung Heroes Local Committee, Glen Lee, said of Mama Joy.


In explaining the concept of the programme which began seven years ago, the chairman said: "We look for persons who are doing extraordinary things or ordinary things in an extraordinary way and are giving back to the community. These people are volunteers who use their personal resources to do things or they try to seek out funding to push the cause further."


In addition to the hundreds of children she has mothered, Mama Joy also has six biological children. The Central Kingston resident used her meagre earnings as a street sweeper and bar cleaner to pay school fees, purchase books and attend to their physical and mental well being.


"I started caring for children when I was 29 and I moved into this community. I used to walk around and peep through windows at nights and when I saw the children sleeping alone, I would take them out and carry them to the police. You don't know when a piece of candle can fall and the place catch fire with them," she told All Woman in her interview.


Mama Joy said she was grateful for the award, but lavished praises on the various individuals, church groups and organisations that had also made caring for the children much easier. She also had a great deal to say about her children, some of whom did extremely well in their examinations.


Apart from the award, the philanthropist also received personal gifts from the bank and cash awards for her project. She now moves on to represent Jamaica in the regional unsung heroes programme which will see her going up against other unsung heroes in the 17 territories the bank operates in.


Mama Joy has also received awards from the Holy Family Primary and Infant school for outstanding and dedicated service; the Central Kingston People's National Party Women's Movement and the Kingston Central Police, among others, for the important role she has played in promoting law and order and for her service to community.


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