Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Birth certificate at last! - Junior Paige can now pursue military dreams

Published:Monday | November 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Contributed Junior Paige is all smiles after receiving his birth certificate.

Without a birth certificate, 23-year-old Junior Paige, up to recently, was living like an alien in his own country, but that obstacle has now been removed and he can pursue his dream of becoming a soldier in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

With the help of the unit executing the groundwork for the National Identification System (NIDS) and the Registrar General's Department (RGD), the young man collected two copies of his newly issued birth certificate on Friday at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.

"Now that I have my birth certificate, I am pushing towards the JDF. I am aiming for a better life," Paige said.

"I applied for the army before but failed. I would love another opportunity, though. I would love to be an officer in the army, and I think I can work towards that. I have what it takes, so a few years from now, you are supposed to see [me as] an officer driving down the road."

Thinking back on the many hardships he was forced to undergo not having his birth certificate, Paige expressed gratitude to The STAR newspaper for first bringing his predicament to light. He also thanked the RGD as well as the NIDS team.

"When I didn't have my birth certificate, I couldn't get a stable job," the young father of one explained.

"I couldn't buy a SIM card for my phone and had to ask people to buy it for me. I couldn't get a job because I didn't have the paper. I got fed up this year because mi cyaa tek the pressure. People have been pressuring me about their money. I used to pay rent and couldn't find it. That's why I reached out to The STAR after my mother passed away."

Michael Johnson, who manages the authentication, verification, and identity department at the RGD, told The Gleaner that, going forward, the department would be working closely with NIDS personnel to ensure that Jamaicans are accounted for.

"Mr Paige's situation is typical of many Jamaicans. A lot of young people have never been registered for financial reasons. What we had to do at RGD was constantly follow up with the family," Johnson said.

"The NIDS team reached out to us, having heard of his situation. The team provided the money to get him his birth certificate. For other Jamaicans who may find themselves in similar difficulty, with a bit of guidance from the RGD, the process may not be so difficult. With that birth certificate, he can now accomplish his dream."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com