Barrel children and the Caribbean diaspora.

 It is something which seems to be engraved and permanent in the life of the modern day Caribbean experience; barrel children. So, who are they? A barrel child is one who is grown in the parent/parents native country while he/she takes off to find financial opportunity for both themselves and the child in other countries, namely the US, Canada and the UK. The child is often left with a grandmother, aunt or family friend. The two-sided epidemic exist in frightening abundance especially on the island of Jamaica.

 So why the term ‘barrel child’? The barrel refers to the drum of goodies that parents toiling in strange lands put together and ‘sen down’ for their children. Most time it get share up unbeknownst to the sender amongst family of the person the child is staying with and he/she end up with ‘wat lef’. The money get share up to; the child most likely is never going to see it unless he or she needs lunch for school or a box food.

 As was said before the situation is two-sided; the parent can either stay and give the child much needed emotional support and tender care while starving together or he/she can leave and ‘sen down’ money normally through Western Union and clothes and the latest sneakers so your child is the talk amongst his peers not to mention the bagga money. BUT! The child might go through the diverse and challenging phase of adolescence without a kiss, hug or a shoulder to cry on from mom or dad. So you see its a very tricky scenario.

Suggested reading on topic: Barrel Child by Pamela Marshall

Pamela K Marshall grew up in Jamaica and went on to spend her young adult years in Brooklyn New York – which she says was like living in Jamaica, only colder in the winter.
She is a past student of the Franklin Town Primary, the Mico Practicing All Age and the Kingston Technical High schools.
Pamela holds a bachelor’s degree in Managerial Accounting from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program at Brooklyn College and a master’s degree in Social Work from Howard University.
Living in Brooklyn brought her in direct contact with many Caribbean immigrants and their descendants and she was moved by their original stories. This inspired her to become a Social Worker and to write and independently publish a novel, Barrel Child (2011), that highlights their family experiences. She is currently working on a second novel.
Pamela resides in Northern Virginia with her family.


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