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Against the Odds

Against the Odds


‘Sometimes I only attended school one to two days a week’

Looking up to heaven and shaking her head satisfactorily, Camille Haynes walked up the aisle of the St George’s Cathedral and warmly embraced her son.

Jason Haynes was at the time receiving the Student of the Year 2008 trophy at the graduation ceremony of the Division of Arts, Science and General Studies of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College on Friday, June 27. So it is easy to misconceive Camille’s actions as that of simply a proud mother.{{more}}


It was relief, a very deep sigh of relief coupled with a huge sense of thankfulness. It was a very long way from 20 years ago when she wondered why she had a child.

According to Camille, Jason’s father walked out on her when the baby was barely four months old. Camille was 18 years old at the time.

“He never looked back,” Camille said of Jason’s father when she and Jason spoke to SEARCHLIGHT from their home in Diamond last week.

The years that were to follow were really rough. Camille told SEARHLIGHT that she tried to survive on the various part-time jobs that she could get.

Camille, originally from Largo Heights, lived with her mother, who changed residence several times. This meant that Jason got his primary school education at Stoney Grounds, Biabou and Stubbs.

Camille also had to struggle with severe club feet which required multiple surgeries to correct.

“I spent up to seven months in hospital,” she told SEARCHLIGHT.

From a very early age, Jason did not use his circumstances to validate poor decisions and to strum tunes in a self-hosted pity party, but rather found strength and inner motivation to do well.

As if abandonment and poverty were not enough, as a child Jason was severely asthmatic.

“Sometimes I only attended school one to two days a week,” Jason said.

Throughout Jason’s time at St Martin’s Secondary School and the Community College, he had to get accustomed to performing in school while hungry and often without his textbooks.

“Sometimes I felt so sad to know that Jason had to leave (home) without anything to eat, and with just his passage, but he never complained,” said Camille.

“I mean I could be home and hear that he drop down in school,’ she added, as tears came to her eyes.

“I just learned to be satisfied with what I had,” Jason said, with a matter-of-fact attitude that spoke of a maturity beyond his years.

Jason told SEARCHLIGHT that his personal conviction to do well was enhanced tremendously when he got baptized at age 13 and became a practicing Seventh Day Adventist.

He explained that while at St Martin’s, there were friends who got involved in drug pushing, but despite his situation he was never tempted to go down that road.

“I knew that I would do well in life and had a firm conviction that I would one day have enough, and enough to share,” Jason said.

He said that as he looked back at what his father did and the other bad relationships that his mother was involved in, he has a deeper appreciation of fatherhood and the importance of it.

“My children won’t suffer,” he declared.

As for his University education, Jason is confident that he will do well enough to secure a scholarship, but said he will not leave St Vincent and the Grenadines unless he knows that his mother and his 12-year-old sister Dea are ok.

“My top priority is making sure my mother is secured, has a steady job and so on,” he explained.

The confident young man who plans to pursue a career in International Relations said that he could tell any young person who is wilting under the pressures of life that “Christ doesn’t give you more than you can bear.”

Jason, who has represented his school and country in public speaking competitions at home and abroad, has moderated National Youth Council radio programmes and is also a member of the Performing Arts Society, said that no one should use their struggles as an excuse for failure but must rise above them.