A single mother raised me in extreme poverty. For 18 years of my life we had no electricity, no telephone and no television. My siblings and I did our homework by candlelight. There were days we went without food and went to bed hungry. In 2004 Grenada was hit by hurricane Ivan. Our house was completely destroyed. We lost everything. For weeks we stayed with the neighbor. One day a Good Samaritan afforded me the opportunity to study abroad. Without hesitation I said yes. I saw this as my opportunity to get out and later return and help my family. March 15th 2005 I left Grenada with a small suitcase and big dreams.
Little did I know life in America was no bed of roses. I was lonely and desperately missing my family. After years of verbal abuse I moved out on my own. One month after I moved out I lost my job as a nanny. I didn’t know what to do. I cried and cried. I reached out to my friends who helped me with rent money and food. This was just the beginning of my struggles. I did odd jobs to make ends meet, I didn’t want to but I had to. I cleaned people houses, I walked dogs, and I babysat. There were so many nights I went to bed hungry. There were months I had to decide if to pay rent or buy food. There were times I used my last dollar for a metro card to get to class. No matter how broke I was I always manage to buy a metrocard to get to class on time. School was the only thing that kept me going. Every semester I did my best to get all A’s.
Just before my 29th birthday I tried to commit suicide. I felt defeated and frustrated. I felt like my situation was never going to change. While I was standing at the edge of the platform edge waiting for the train to come so I can jump I saw my life flashed before my eyes. I felt someone pull me back. I called my friends who rushed over and stayed with me and prayed with me. I am so glad I didn’t end my life. I would have devastated my family especially my mom. I have not seen my family in 11 years.
May 17th 2016 I graduated with my Masters in Social Work. My family wasn’t there to support me. My mom has never left Grenada I am hoping to change that soon. I am the first member of my family to attain an advance degree. I am hoping to be the best social worker I can be. At 29 I have 3-college degree. I am sharing my story because I know there are some people out there who feel defeated and want to give up. I say to you please do not give up. Stay focus and pray. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am now a role model for the next generation of the James family.I am Kenlisha James. I am from the village of chantimelle, St. Patrick’s and#IamGrenadian