Struggling Cumberland head boy determined to make something of himself

Observer staff reporter

Monday, March 25, 2019

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A St Catherine head boy is determined to rise above the odds, but is struggling just to complete high school.

The polite and humble youngster, who turns 18 today, hails from a single-parent home with an unemployed mother who also has to care for his two younger brothers.

The very talented teenager, Shamari Hendricks, who aspires to become a musician or music teacher, shared with the Jamaica Observer a story of hardship and pain last week at his school, Cumberland High, which was celebrating boys for boys' day.

“Mi nuh know how mi come a school everyday, a just the good grace of God,” he shared.

“Sometimes mi come with $100, sometimes mi come with no lunch money, and I walk almost every morning.”

He journeys about half a mile each day to school and back, and said almost every morning he goes to school without breakfast.

“Right now mi get used to it so it come in like nothing now,” he said. “Sometimes mi get up wid mi head a hurt me, and mi go home with the same feeling.”

The teenager said it is very difficult for him and his siblings as their mother is unable to find work.

“Mi nuh have no father, him no deh round. Sometimes I feel like nobody is there to encourage me, which is very hard. I used to cry sometimes for my father, but I realise that naa help and him naa come, so I just have to live with it.”

However, according to the young Christian, who is determined to succeed in life, he wants to help his mother and younger siblings but fears his dreams of going to Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts is nowhere near becoming a reality because he was only able to pay for three Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects.

“Mi naa go get inna Edna Manley, mi can see that. Mi nuh like waste time and fi deh home and naa do nothing, that naa go work,” Hendricks said.

The teenager said that he wanted to sit English language, mathematics, social studies, visual arts and integrated studies, but only paid for the last three with the assistance of his grandfather.

“I had to pressure him. I was very persistent and that's how he sent it because like my father, he is not so involved in my life,” he explained.

At present, he said his school fees are still outstanding and he is hampered in his visual arts studies as he does not have any of the tools that he needs.

“Mi depressed because it ago look a way if me a head boy and mi no have subject,” Hendricks noted.

The young man said he almost did not resume school last September as his mother did not have the money to buy his school supplies. But luckily one of his church sisters got him a summer job and he was able to purchase school supplies for himself and one of his brothers, but could not help the other, as the money was not enough.

“Mi never know say I would be coming to school this year, or that I would be the head boy,” Hendricks said.

Despite the struggles, the young man said he is determined to try his best and achieve his goal.

He plays the piano, trumpet and drum, and said he taught himself to play the drum and piano after watching videos on YouTube.

He said the piano is one of the hardest instruments to learn, and because everyone was saying how hard it is, he challenged himself and now he can play almost anything on the piano.

“I can create rhythm and so I went into the music room and created a rhythm and another student made a song and we got a silver medal in the JCDC competition,” he beamed.

Hendricks said he also wanted to do music in CSEC but could not pay for it, but practices everyday on a piano that his church brother loaned him.

“If I could get a piano for my birthday (today), I would be the happiest man alive,” he said with a wide smile.

When asked what he wished most for, he said, “I would really like somebody to guide me and to show me what to do to make something better of myself.”

He also had a message for fathers who neglect to play their roles.

“Please support your children in any way that you can, show them that you love them, and help to show them that there is purpose for them in life and that they are here to achieve greatness.

“Give your child every help or support that they need to make it in life, and if they don't come out to anything, at least they can't say you didn't help them,” he advised.

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