Road to hope
With new house secured, woman hopes for job to support family, finish degree
There were a number of times in 22-year-old Valicka Pryce’s life when she, her mom and her sister had to literally run for their lives.
Years ago, community violence forced them to flee their inner-city community in the capital city and head for the hills of St Andrew to make do in a one-room structure.
Their living situation continued to deteriorate over the years. The wage her mother, Susie-Ann Lindo-Hamilton, collected each fortnight working as a janitor, was at times not sufficient to send the girls “off the hill” to school.
“I was in an inner city, where there was not much opportunity. As a young person, it’s either the highway or get stuck. ... I have situations that I can’t speak of, but one of the things is, my mom, being a single mom, she wasn’t able to get us through school at the ending,” Pryce told The Gleaner in an interview on Sunday.
“We had to move from our community in the inner city [in] Kingston, but it was very rough. It was a situation, basically, where we had to go and move [in] with family members. You know, a lot of family in one room sleeping together, so I decided to reach out for some assistance,” she said.
Despite the setbacks, she was eventually enrolled at Papine High School, near her home, and managed to pass four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and two City & Guilds subjects, and later, HEART/NSTA Trust levels one and two nail technology courses.
In September 2020, Pryce began reading for a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, while employed on a farm. However, unable to pay the tuition fee, she could not continue beyond the first semester.
“My first semester, I passed, but I’m not financially stable to afford to finish or go through with my degree, so it stopped there,” she told The Gleaner.
Her mom said that although she has tried to help Pryce finish school, it has been a struggle trying to make ends meet.
“As a janitor, it was not easy. Sometimes when mi do get the little pay, mi nuh know how fi stretch it, until God open doors,” Lindo-Hamilton said.
“High school, that was another struggle. When my daughter to do [CSEC], I don’t know where it coming from. I don’t know where the dinner coming from, but God always provide,” said Lindo-Hamilton, who resigned from her janitorial job last month and has started raising chickens.
“She wants to go back to school, but I cannot help her, and I wish someone could help her to further herself,” she added, making an appeal on Pryce’s behalf.
Within the last two years, Pryce has also become a mother.
Despite the plea for help to send her back to school, when the Rotary Club of Kingston assessed the family’s situation, it believed their need for proper shelter was much greater.
“It’s really about uplifting the living standards of others to the extent that we’re able to contribute,” club President Ryan Strachan, who handed over a new two-bedroom board house to Pryce on April 25, told The Gleaner.
The house was built in partnership with Food For The Poor Jamaica, with both entities putting US$4,900 each towards the cost and volunteering time.
The Rotary Club of Kingston is aiming to donate six houses by the end of this year with a fundraising total of close to US$30,000.
Pryce and her family members are elated.
“We have space now. My sister, she can even come over my home, so I am grateful for all of that,” the appreciative young woman said.
Lindo-Hamilton is also happy she will not be sharing a room with her daughters any more.
“Mi feel good! ... Mi happy, because sometimes mi want rest mi head and she and her sister and di three pickney dem, and mi little cousin dem [a mek noise]. And then, mi affi rest mi head ... [because] mi have di heart problem, and sometimes when di pressure – the stress – tek mi wid dem, mi pressure go up,” Lindo-Hamilton told The Gleaner.
Pryce recently started working as an aide, taking care of an elderly person, but she would rather a job as a data entry clerk or administrator.
She has experience in doing payroll, filing, purchase orders and other administrative tasks.
“I want to see if I can save to go back to school, to ensure that when my child start to go to school, I can be there – as in providing for school, books, tools. I want to be able to be there as a parent for him, so he can become something worthwhile in society,” said Pryce, who would like to become a psychiatrist or psychologist.