Touched By An Angel
'Mama Joy' might not be an angel, but try telling that to the hundreds of children whose lives she has touched positively for the past 41 years.
Born Joy Baker in August 1948, she was dubbed 'Mama Joy' by one of the children she unofficially adopted in the late 1980s.
The name has stuck through the years as she provided financial, educational, religious and moral support for the hundreds of young people in South Side and several other communities of central Kingston. Mama Joy has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
Right now, at the ripe 'young age' of 63, she is helping to monitor 194 children and her arms remain open to welcome others.
"Sometimes I want to give up but a voice says, 'Hold on, be still, you will be strong someway'," Mama Joy told The Gleaner recently.
"I go through a heck of a time in this community and spend 33 and a half years up Tower Street, and now I come round here (Higholborn Street) for the past seven years and I still get joy out of helping the children," added Mama Joy.
"I get lawyers, doctors and everything from my children. When I started, I use the three $20 bills, which me get for me pay every fortnight, to boil porridge for the children and then I beg everybody and anybody, but not the politicians.
"I use to pad me knee and clean out bar, wash sailor clothes and carry go down a wharf just to mek the children them comfortable."
According to Mama Joy, while it has been rough over the years, she has had strong support from some members of the private sector who have been her quiet helpers.
The recognition for her work has started to come in, and recently Mama Joy was among 62 'living legends' recognised by the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons for their work in nation building.
Mama Joy has been declared a living legend, but for the children of South Side and surrounding community, she is "an angel".