Sat | Jan 19, 2019

A higgler's life: Mother, daughter making market life work

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston photo Babeth Morrison (left) and daughter Cheneé Allen.
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston photo Some of the produce the mother-daughter pair had on sale.

For more than 27 years Babeth Morrison has been selling in the market. A mother of 11 children and charged with the responsibility of raising them alone, it is a huge challenge and one she tries to deal with as best she can.

This meant exposing her children at an early age to market life. Her daughter, Chenee Allen, has been going to the market since she was six years old as there was no money to pay a babysitter.

These days, mother and daughter sit side by side selling produce in the May Pen Market.

Allen dreamt of becoming an accountant, but after graduating from Cross Keys High in Manchester, she could go no further as the resources just weren't available.

Her mother said she also had more lofty dreams for her daughter than selling in the market.

"I wanted better things for her. I myself want to stop because it is really tiring. Sometimes, when I reach home it is 4 a.m.," she said, wiping sweat from her face.

Allen said that while sitting at home without work for almost a year, she got involved in a relationship and ended up becoming pregnant. It was then that she knew she had to "try something".

That something has turned into nine years of selling in the market, and two more children have been brought into the mix. She said she also does "a little farming" at home.

Selling in the market, according to Allen, has given her a new appreciation for the sacrifices her mother made for her.

"I didn't know it was so difficult until I experienced it for myself. Now that I am a mother, it makes me love and appreciate her even more," she said. "She raised 11 of us without a father just by selling in the market."

Allen said one of her siblings is now an accountant - a dream she never attained for herself, another a nail technician, while one of her brothers is an aspiring artiste.

Both mother and daughter still live in Resource District in Manchester, where they were born. The senior never made it past primary school and got pregnant in her early teens.

They said they are both trying to make the best of the situation.