Jennifer Edwards: Mother of all mothers
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
Jennifer Edwards, or 'Miss Broady', has a soft spot for children, a love so genuine that she has taken children into her home and raised them as her own.
The 48-year-old who lives on Duke Street in Clarendon has never had children of her own, but estimates to have nurtured more than 100 over the last 20 years.
She currently has eight children living with her in a small two-bedroom house which she rents. They range from basic-school pupils to teenagers at the high-school level.
Edwards was unable to bear children because of a medical condition, but that only seem to make her love them even more.
"The sickness really set me back a whole lot in life," Edwards said, as she recalled being tested positive for the Zika virus recently. It aggravated her sickle cell condition, but her strength and resilience reignited her fighting spirit to care for those who depend on her.
"Sometimes, it hurt mi to see how people neglect dem kids and put themselves first. Most of them want eyelash, nails and bleach out, and some want to be in the latest fashion while dem kids suffer. They don't think that, one day, the children will get big and bring joy to their hearts," she told Family and Religion.
Edwards values life and family and strongly believes children are a gift from God and they should be loved and cared for.
She is currently unemployed but depends on domestic jobs to survive.
WILLING TO WORK
"Any likkle ting mi get fi do, mi gone. Whether a washing, or any other day's work, mi do it fi help dem. Mi try mi best," she shared with Family and Religion.
Things got so bad once that one of her boys remarked: "We eat chicken back from Sunday to Sunday till it cut up wi mouth. We stew it, we fry it, use it make soup, we do everything with it, but it was our daily meal."
Edwards said she, however, tries to balance the chicken back with steamed vegetables to maximise the nutritional value of the meals.
Schooling is also a struggle on a daily basis. "I manage to school them out of the likkle hustling, but that's not enough, but I make it work, and now that it's back-to-school time, it's really rough."
Looking back at all the persons she has helped, including pastors, police and other professionals, Edwards said she has saved many from prison.
She encouraged parents who are not taking care of their children to desist. "Even if you have to give them away because of circumstances, try your best to go back one day and make amends. Don't just throw them away and when other people clean them up and take care of them, you want to come later and reap the success.
"Mi feel say when you look after children, God bless you more in life because children cannot make it on their own. You don't have to give them the biggest and best of everything in life, but use the little that you have to teach them the important values in life, and always give God thanks for everything," she encouraged.
"Children can raise. Just don't put yourself first and don't be afraid to go out and hustle. Pride cause a lot of children to suffer because their parents think they are too good to do certain kinds of jobs to provide for their children."
Edwards feels accomplished. She only needs to have a more comfortable space to raise them in.