Cynthia Brown supports her community
Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
Each year, the governor general recognises Jamaicans who impact their communities by showing creativity, originality, initiative, and sustained accomplishment.
Of the 42 persons for this year's awards, one of those awardees from the parish of Trelawny was retired teacher Cynthia Brown.
"In the community, I am a justice of the peace, I am involved with the church, I am a lay preacher at the Warsop Baptist Church, deacon, Sunday school teacher, actively involved in the church and the [its] Women's Federation on a local and national level. I am one of the representatives for Trelawny on the national executive of the Jamaica Baptist Women's Federation. I am a retired teacher, I taught for 42 years," Brown said.
Brown, who is originally from Westmoreland, said for the early years of her life, she was homeschooled by her maternal grandmother.
"As a little child, I grew with my grandmother and her husband. We were living in a bush far away from road and civilisation. As a little child, I alone couldn't go to school and they had to do their subsistence farming. But my grandmother used to work at the Public Works Department as an orderly, and fortnightly she used to go to Darliston to collect her stipend. She [would] buy [the] Gleaner and she would teach me to read The Gleaner. That Gleaner would serve us for the two weeks until she went back to Darliston, along with the Bible and the Sankey. The three pieces of reading material in the house would be the Bible, the Sankey and The Gleaner.
"When I eventually went to school at nine years old, I could write my name, I could spell my name and knew a lot of words. The Gleaner had laid my reading foundation. I benefited from The Gleaner because it was the reading material that [my] grandmother used to teach me to read and spell and discuss pictures," Brown relayed.
Growing up poor, and in a time when she had three basic career options: teaching, policing or nursing, Brown said she worked as a pretrained teacher until she was able to afford to send herself to teachers' college, after which she moved to live in Warsop, Trelawny, in 1972. There, Brown, who serves as a justice of the peace, became involved in her community.
"When you are living in a community where the people are not so well educated, you have to write letters for them and I have been writing letters and doing things for people long before I became a justice of the peace, and that was what draw them to me, to be recommended as justice of the peace," she said.
[I am a counsellor to] them; giving them advice, sometimes settling disputes. Sometimes they will have something to decide and they come and ask me to help them sort it out. [I] give them instruction on how to start their small businesses, write applications for them, sometimes the young people need guidance in that, and also application for loans, complete forms for them, and tell them how to go about accessing benefits that are available from Government and other groups - National Housing Trust; PATH, and things like those. It gives a sense of satisfaction to know that you can assist someone and to see them go about their business and succeed and be happy, and sometimes some of them will come back and say, 'Thank you,'" Brown told Rural Xpress.
asking for money
She said often persons will come to her asking for money when they have nothing to cook and as a retiree she does not always have it to give, but she always picks up a little extra when she goes to the supermarket so she is able to share.
"From time to time, persons sometimes come and say, 'Miss Brown a [want to] cook, but I don't have anything', and I have to find something and go give them. What I do, I buy 10 pounds of rice and I keep it and when I go out I take up one or two tin things and I always have it. So when they come and beg me a $100 I have [a] mug that I use and measure out a pound or two pounds, depending, and give them a tin of mackerel or sardines.
Brown, who taught students at the grades two, six, eight and nine levels, where she spent most of her years, also takes time out to help students in her community with their school work as she always makes the offer at her church.
Brown, who has received many awards, also received the Jamaica Teachers' Association Golden Torch award in 2001 for over 35 years of service.