Apart from the crime and violence, Jamaica is okay... but I miss Guyana

Sunday, July 07, 2019

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Sixth in a series giving a snapshot of the lives and thoughts of people you see on the streets daily. Sunday Observer reporter Sharlene Hendricks speaks to Cephas Chambers, part time EMT (emergency medical technician) and part-time street food vendor.

North Parade, downtown, Kingston

My mother named me Cephas, which is the Greek word for Peter, which means 'stone'. I am also Guyanese. My parents are Jamaicans but I was born and raised in Guyana. When I came here I was 16 years old. My parents were in England and they left and went to Guyana in the 1970s when Forbes Burnham, who was the president at the time, invited some Jamaicans to come to Guyana to do planting.

In 2001 they returned to Jamaica and I went back to school at Kingston Technical, where I learned my second language, which is Spanish. My Spanish teachers were Ms Bernal Benjamin and Ms Beal and I used to love to here them talk Spanish. I fell in love with the language. When I left high school, I had some friends here who were from Cuba so I continued using the language with them. And whenever I see people who speak Spanish I always correspond with them.

After I graduated high school I decided to go into the paramedic field. I am now an EMT (emergency medical technician) by profession with the Ministry of Health, but I also do this food cart business part time. Before, I worked at the tax office; at one point I was with an insurance company, and then I decided to do my own thing, which was to start a small hot dog business cart here downtown which is a central location.

I sell Reggae Jammin hot dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets, and deli sandwiches. I also do catering. I always wanted to do something in cooking but this is not my destination. I plan to move on to owning a restaurant and maybe a hotel.

I have a vision that one day I will or can go back to Guyana, which is very different from Jamaica. There are more family values in Guyana than here. Growing up as a child in Guyana we used to come out and play together; cricket, hop-scotch, swimming. It was more like a country life and there is more humility and they are friendlier.

At first when I just came here I missed my country, I missed my friends. It was like starting something all over again. Everything seemed different and even now as an adult, sometimes I don't feel the way I used to when I was in Guyana. I feel like I'm just living here in Jamaica. But apart from the crime and violence, Jamaica is okay.


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