A film-makers jottings | Camille Small-Peart puts real life into 'Rosie'
Kingston Paradise, the new award-winning Jamaican movie starring Chris 'Johnny' Daley, opens next Wednesday, June 15, at the Palace Amusement cinemas. Actress Camille Small was encouraged by the director Mary Wells to use her personal life story as 'back story' to her character, Rosie. Camille candidly shared part of her powerful personal story, which The Gleaner carries today. It helped to shape her film character and performance.
If I had a second chance in life, I surely would be perfect. I would even change my parents.
My name is Camille Small. I was born April 8, 1981. I grew up in Rollington Town, Eastern Kingston. My mother's name is Pauline Roberts and I have two fathers, I am not sure up to this day which one is my father. I have three siblings and I am the second eldest. There were three of us before my mother had the fourth child when she went to prison. When I turned a teenager my life was hell, just because of mistakes my mother made. She went to prison for personal reasons and this tore my family apart for a while.
My elder sister, brother and I went to live with a granduncle of ours and his wife. The wife was more caring to us, more than our uncle, and she did her best to take care of us. Her name was Aunty Enid. I missed school a lot because they were poor, but I knew she tried her best and at least we had a roof over our heads. After a while a co-worker of my mom took me in to live with her and her parents. I was so comfortable and happy - I finally got my own room. I was well taken care of for at least a year, until my mother's friend migrated, leaving me with her parents, and my happiness was about to come to an end.
One day when I was at home alone with the father, he came into the room and started touching me in places that made me uncomfortable. I was scared and in shock. I was just so very scared. I told him to stop touching me and this brought back bad memories, because that was the second time I was being molested. My first molestation was when I was 12 years old, and my mother had left us in the country so she could travel abroad. She left us with her husband's mother and stepfather. My step-grand father was a pastor and he was the first to try to molest me. I am so hurt by this situation still and it has been years.
I eventually left the house of this co-worker of my mom because right after my mom came from prison she came for me and my brother and baby sister to live in Montego Bay with the babyfather. But it never worked out, so she packed us up to Kingston and I never went back to school again.
I was only 14 years old and I grew up rough, just never had a teen life like how most children should. I grew up on the streets and slept on people's floors and wore people's clothes and even had to beg to feed myself. Where was my mom only God knew. She had left me and went back to her child's father. I was on my own and I grew myself up. A lot of people would judge and criticise me, but none ever tried to help except an old friend of my mom who gave me a chair to sleep on. I thank her and her kids.
In life I had to do what I had to survive I just never knew at the time that if you begged a man money he would want sex in return, so I bounced all over the place for years until I met a man who took me in one night when my mom threw me out her house. I was almost 18. This man eventually became my child's father. In September 2000 I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl, Shenel Harriott, my heartbeat.
This child brought back hope into my life. She gave me a purpose to strive for better. I almost gave up, because my babyfather was no good. He treated me terribly and I wasted 10 long years with him just because he had a house and it was a secure home for my daughter. But. I went through hell. I gave up many times. At one point I even wished I was dead, but the beautiful smile of my child always brought me back to reality. I should have left that idiot, but I was scared and I never wanted my child to have the same bad experiences I had in life, so that was one main reason I stayed. He never really supported her, not even now.
I had so many dreams, I'm a dreamer and my ambition was to be a nurse, but how could I? Coming from a messed up background and the fact that I stopped going to school from age 13 years. I was 28 when I finally decided to move out of my babyfather's house. I got so damn tired of the mental abuse that I took a brave move and it paid off.
Life wasn't easy at first, but I realised I couldn't be a nurse at that time. I needed money and my child needed a good education, so I chose my child's education over mine. I just wanted her to be better than I was, so I set up a small hair shop to do some hairdressing. I was skilled and talented at this. I never went to school for it, but I learnt it on the streets from a friend. The shop was up and down sometimes, but it was helping to pay the bills and it sent my child to school.
During this time I really had it rough. I had no support at all. I had to depend totally on myself I was so stressed. Then one Friday night I was walking on the street, lost to the world. A car horn blew that brought me back to the present, I was so frightened that I stated to curse the driver off! Kirk was his name. We didn't know each other, but he became such a good friend to me that I knew God had sent this man to help me.
We spoke on the phone many times and he was not only listening, but he was caring too. He brought me a lot of groceries - and I mean a lot. He gave me money to help out with Shenel's education. Shenel was growing up a smart child. I just adore her; she's very bright and polite. In 2012, she did her exams and passed for Camperdown High School. This was one of my greatest achievements. My brother, who is now a medical doctor, had helped me to pay her first school fees. He helped me with the books for school. Then that same year I met a man, Jairus Peart.
He lived in America and came several times to Jamaica just to have a relationship with me. After a year he proposed to me and we got married on June 29, 2013. It was the best day of my life.
That day I was a queen, I totally forgot all my troubles from the past. I became Mrs Camille Peart. My life has now changed for the better and why not? I suffered for most of it! So at 32 I now reside in the USA. I even went back to school and did a certified nurse assistant course. I knew this was not completely my dream, but it was better than not fulfilling it. I've worked a year in this field, then saw another way of making more money. I'm my own boss, an independent contractor, I started a small cleaning business. I still have further to go, but I am proud of myself of what I've achieved today.
This story that I've written, is true with a whole lot more to complete it, as I am currently writing a book so that I can help to inspire others to know that life is rough, but we must always remember not to give up on ourselves, because God never gives up on us.
Camille Small-Peart, June 6, 2016.