JAMAICA GLEANER – When The Gleaner tried to contact 58-year-old Raphael Young on Friday, he was busy sitting an entrance test, to further his studies at the HEART Trust/ National Training Agency (NTA) in welding and carpentry.
It all started when Young participated in the Majesty Gardens Community Education Development Programme, where he did the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning’s (JFLL) High School Diploma Equivalency Programme, at the basic level (grades 1-6).
“From ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a music producer. I have the talent but because I could hardly read I didn’t go much further,” he told The Gleaner.
“I missed out a lot in my young days because I didn’t grow with a mother or a father. When I was six months old, a lady adopt me but it was never easy. She use to drink a lot of rum and so she was always drunk. The result of that, was, I had to go out and do a little hustling so dat likkle food could go on the table. The most I would go to school, is two days,” he recalled.
A few years later however, his life changed, after a team from the JFLL, visited the Majesty Gardens community in Kingston, where Young resides. He made a decision to transform his life.
“The lady died when I was 22-years-old. Since that time, I have been doing what I can to survive. When di people dem come to the community I said to myself that I had to grab this opportunity because not everybody get a second chance,” he explained.
That he did, persisting through the one-year programme and graduating last week at the closing ceremony held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
He also copped the award for best attendance and most improved student.
“I was the oldest one in the class and of course a lot of the young people dem tease mi but mi always seh to dem that ‘Di older the moon, di brighter it shine’,” he said with a chuckle.
“The only time you stop learning is when you die. I was determined to do well. Whenever I get work in class, I don’t put it down, when I go home, mi try to go over what mi learn and most importantly, I never missed a class. I was always early,” said Young.
He added: “Last week when I was collecting the awards, I felt so proud especially when the prime minister hug mi.”
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in her address, urged graduates not to be daunted by their circumstances.
“I’m going to see how best I can work out an arrangement where the graduates who have not been placed in a job can also acquire some sort of employment,” she also promised.
“It’s important that we strive for a society where its people are educated. I urge you all not to give up on your dreams. Nothing is impossible.”