Winsome Reid’s advice against unplanned pregnancy is no empty rhetoric.
She’s been there, done that.
“I dropped out of Vere Technical High School; I was in fourth form when I got pregnant,” she told The Beacon.
She ended up relocating from her native McNie district, St. Ann, to live with her mother in Kingston, where her first child – a son – was born in 1989.
While still in Kingston, Reid landed a job at Pembroke Hall Daycare and Learning Centre.
Her maternal grandmother, Louise Hanniford, took the child to live with her in Coley, St. Ann.
Reid took another shot at education.
She enrolled at Henderson Secretarial College, but did not complete her studies. She later tried St Joseph’s Evening Classes, but that too ended prematurely due to financial constraints, Reid said.
She went back to work.
She did stints at Rainbow Printry, at Val Chemicals as a sales rep, at a residence as a caregiver for two boys, and at Eltham Park Medical Centre as a receptionist.
Reid later returned to St. Ann where she gave birth to her second child.
And then she left for Kingston again, this time working at KFC.
And then she returned to St. Ann… for good.
“Before I know it, honestly, every two years, there comes another baby,” the 50-year-old said, adding that some of her relatives were disappointed.
Her seventh and last child, now 17, graduated recently from Edwin Allen High School.
Reid is happy that all her children finished high school although she struggled financially, with little or no support from most of the fathers.
“I never sit around and wait pon any father,” she declared. “I think I did it 80 percent on my own.”
Reid got help from Good Samaritans, but, instead of waiting for handouts, she did several odd jobs after she returned to St. Ann.
She sold cooked food outside a night club; she bought goods in her community and sold them at Coronation Market in Kingston; and she sold snacks and other items at the entrance to her alma mater – McNie Primary School.
She still operates a farm and a grocery shop, and has been making flower pots for sale in recent times.
Despite having her hands full, Reid does voluntary work in her community. She is a former secretary of the police youth club and two farmers’ groups.
In 2015, when Reid was 44, she experienced her first graduation.
It happened when she completed a health ministry programme, which qualified her for the job she currently does as a community health aide at McNie Health Centre. That is actually not a far cry from Reid’s childhood dream, which was to become a nurse.
Reflecting on her journey through parenting, Reid is happy that she was never afraid to put her shoulders to the wheel to ensure her children did not end up being abandoned.
“I am not saying that life is 100 percent better for me now, but I am in a much better place,” she told The Beacon. “Life was rough – seriously rough. Sometimes I don’t know how I did it. I remember my mother saying to me that I deserve a medal because she don’t know how I do it. It was really really hard.”
Reid does not regret having her children, but she is convinced that her life would have been much easier if she had stayed in school and focused on acquiring a good education.
Now, she is busy telling anyone who is willing to listen: “Think hard about your education because, without an education right now, you are going to meet upon roadblocks – and not everyone can hustle.”
Reid further advised: “If you have one child right now, know what you are getting into before you have another. There are times when unplanned pregnancy might work for some persons, but if you don’t have support, think about it before getting into it because it might not be an easy road. It was not an easy road for me.”
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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