Carlette Wynter – ‘It’s rough but I won’t tief’
Mi carry mi ackee go a Linstead Market
Not a quattie worth sell
Mi Carry me ackee go a Linstead Market
Not a quattie worth sell
This famous Jamaican folk song aptly tells the story of many market vendors, yet week after week they are back at their stalls trying to make ends meet.
For the next few weeks, Rural Xpress will be highlighting some of these vendors.
Forty-eight-year-old Carlette Wynter is a familiar face at the Old Harbour, St Catherine market.
It is the norm to be greeted with a smile as she makes the appeal to "buy something from me nuh!"
When our news team visited the market last week, we observed a hungry looking homeless man stroll by and glance longingly at one of the fruits she was selling. She softens, "take one and gwaan".
Wynter will be the first to tell you though that she is giving away from what she does not have.
"You see these", she said while spreading out her hands to show the grapefruits and the star apples. "I didn't have anything to sell this week, so I took these from my neighbour. When I go home, I will pay her and then keep what's left," she said.
Wynter, who hails from Bartons, Old Harbour, has been married since 1993 to a struggling farmer. The mother of five, with "three past the worst" makes a living selling her husband's produce at the market. But with the drought and other challenges, she sometimes takes goods on a consignment basis to keep the wolf from the door.
"It's rough, it's really rough, but what to do? I won't tief. Some of the times, you don't even sell enough to balance your bills, so I have to be back here in the market in the week," she said.
"Saturday's profit put food on the table for a couple of days, but by Wednesday, I have to be back looking bus fare and lunch money for the children," she said.
Education for children
A determined look came over her face as she resolutely stated, "I never got much education. After primary school, I never went any further. I am determined that my children will have the opportunity I never did," she said, and proudly informed that her daughter who is attending St Jago High School is doing well, and so is the other, who is a student at Old Harbour High.
Wynter said being a market vendor came naturally to her as her grandmother did the same thing and she used to take her along with her.
"I adapted that lifestyle and now I have been in it forever," she told Rural Xpress.
An ardent Christian and a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Wynter said had it not been for her faith, she did not know what she would do.
"If I didn't have faith, I would be mad. I don't know how I would survive," she said.
For Wynter, the key to contentment is learning to be satisfied.
"My husband's only means of earning is farming, so I have to learn to be satisfied with what he can give me."
If there is one wish Wynter has, it is for the Lord to expand her boundaries that she doesn't have to struggle as much.