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A Barbadian-born who does her best to build Jamaicans

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 23, 2014    

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JULIA Brown has dedicated nearly 50 years to serving the less fortunate in Jamaica, making it hard for one to guess that she is not a native of this north Caribbean island.

In fact, Brown will tell people that she is "more Jamaican" than several other natives. Her passion and commitment to the island indicate the true Jamaican that Brown has claimed to be.

Brown, who is from Barbados, has been living in Jamaica for just over 10 years. However, her relationship with the country started when she first visited the island with her Jamaican husband in 1966.

"I saw the need of the children and I decided I have to help," she explained.

Her first charge was a pregnant young woman who would years later emigrate to England, and was appreciative of the help and encouragement that Brown had given her.

Since then, she has been doing all that she can to assist children in Manchester and St Mary.

Since 1966, she has made it an annual mission to bring in items of clothing to the island for children in several communities. Brown, popularly known as Ms June, said that even in times when she was not able to be in the island, she ensured that packages were sent.

In recent years, Brown and her son Laurel started 'A Barrel of Love', through the Bexley African Caribbean Community Association (BACCA), which she played an integral role in forming in 1984.

Giving has become a part of the mother, who looks forward to sharing with others.

"I like doing things for others. When you get up in the morning you feel light; you feel good," she said, explaining the satisfaction she gets from giving.

She further stated that, for her, giving is not about the praises that she often gets, but the happiness that she derives from improving the lives of others.

Apart from her annual barrels of love, Brown also holds a treat for children in several St Mary communities, where she not only allows the children to enjoy themselves but encourages them to express themselves through their talents.

Brown, who says that she has no regrets about calling Jamaica home, has gone further than assisting children. Since 2003, Brown, who is also a grandmother, has adopted 19 beds at the St Mary Infirmary, meaning that she contributes to the care of those beds and the area in which they are kept.

Brown's care for those in the institution does not stop there, as she visits weekly "just to talk to the residents".

She also assists the elderly in Mango Valley, one of the communities where children benefit from 'Barrel of Love'.

She has also been active helping young people to pursue their dreams.

She recalled that recently when the HEART Trust/National Training Agency offered courses in Oracabessa, St Mary, she made it her duty to go around and encourage young people to join the classes.

Now, she not only gets those young people to attend classes but also sends them motivational text messages daily.

Brown, who is a fashion designer, also uses her talent to benefit many. For functions that she puts on, she spends time designing clothing for the children.

A lover of dance, she also takes the time to choreograph several pieces in the communities where she works.

Although she has had the opportunity to travel and live in other countries, Brown maintains that Jamaica is the place for her.

"Jamaica is nice, I have no regrets coming here," she stated, adding that when she first visited the island she had come to live, but her husband was not ready for that at the time.

Brown said that she would like more people to assist others, especially the children.

Although she admits she is not working for praise, Brown strongly believes that people should be shown appreciation for their work while they are alive.

"I always tell people, please let me know what you think of me now, don't wait until I die and come talk over me. I need to know now," she said.

She is also a firm believer in a "strong" family unit and encourages persons to do all they can to strengthen family relationships.

"I always say to people, show love, tell your family you love them each day. It makes you feel good," she stated.

Brown said that she speaks to her children daily, regardless of wherever in the world she is.

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