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Daughters vs Sons

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Growing up in a Caribbean household means two very different things, even being raised under the same roof by the same people, for daughters verses sons, stemming from the fact that many mothers “baby” their sons while are much harder on their daughters. Even if they are unaware that they are doing so, it is safe to say that there are some thinking biases to how parents respond and react to their child based on their gender. The only fair way to parent is by keeping it an even playing field for everyone. In many ways the style of parenting that doesn’t make the playing field fair can affect their child’s relationships, opportunities and overall quality of life.

In this, perception is everything. We know no parent deliberately means to belittle their own child. In many cases, survival skills are being taught, which should be praised but it’s more about how things are taught than what is actually being learned. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings. For example, daughters doing the chores while sons get to play. The less favored kids (the one doing the chores) may have ill will toward their mother or preferred sibling, and being the favored child brings resentment from one’s siblings and the added weight of greater parental expectations.

  • Some positives

Long-term effects of being the favored child are not all negative. There are, in fact, lots of advantages – including a bolstered self-esteem. The favorite child often grows up feeling confident and powerful with an attitude of ‘I can get things done.

The overlooked child, who didn’t have to do the ‘pleasing dance,’ may have been free to experience the things he or she wanted to experience and to be the person he or she wanted to be.

  • Negative effects                                        

On the flip side, in the long-term, favorite children may struggle with intimate relationships when they find that no one can possibly love them as much as the parent who favored them.

They’re more likely to be depressed because they spent so much of their lives trying to court parental favor that they may not have developed their own personality.

On the other end of the extreme is the unfavored child, who is often on the receiving end of the parent’s anger.

The unfavored child perhaps stands to suffer the most – even long after he or she has left home whether it be through depression, weakened self-esteem or a chronic need to feel special.

In many cases, sibling relationships are strained as resentment from favoritism breeds.

Just be aware and change the behavior to something more consistent. For instance, switch off different responsibilities in the household to give a fair chance for everyone to experience the task. We will find, if we break the bad cycle of favoritism many of the little issues we all picked up from the way some of us were unfairly raised will not be passed on to the generations to come after us.

10 Years Later…

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On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the city of Port-au-Prince. It was one of the world’s most significant natural disasters on record. Never before had the world seen an earthquake of this magnitude strike an urban setting, and the impact was serious. Two hundred thirty thousand people were killed, 300,000 were injured. In and around the city, buildings collapsed, leaving 1.5 million people homeless. Those who arrived to help in the days that followed the quake say they will never forget arriving into the city just after the earthquake struck. The destruction was everywhere. There were dead bodies lying in the streets, and residents wandering around. It was like a bomb had dropped on the city. But through it all, Haitians showed to have extraordinary resilience through their struggle, and hardship.

The world responded with urgency, compassion, and generosity. Billions of dollars were raised, and aid organizations implemented massive relief and recovery operations. It was, after all, the first independent nation of Latin America and the only country in the world established following a successful slave revolt. It is this inherent fighting spirit that has enabled people to withstand enormous challenges thrown at them. While legitimate questions were raised about overall aid effectiveness and efficiency, there is no doubt that many lives were saved, and Haiti was significantly helped back on the road to recovery. But resilience is not inevitable. Many more struggled immensely to survive. Ten years on from the earthquake, Haiti has actually regressed. The causes are multiple, but negligence and lack of attention are key drivers of the current crisis.

We start 2020 with a country that is both highly vulnerable to climatic disaster and facing a massive — and massively underreported — hunger crisis. Data supplied in October by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) revealed that 3.67 million people need urgent food assistance. Inflation is close to 20 percent, and currency depreciation has been crippling for poor Haitian families.

Not enough seems to be being done. The current annual budget is a fraction of what it was in the post-earthquake period, and the total of donor investment is grossly insufficient. Last year, the UN appeal for Haiti was less than one-third funded by international donors making it among the most under-funded humanitarian crises in the world. The lack of interest, action, and funding is shameful.

In 2010, the world responded to the crisis with speed and extraordinary generosity, but 10 years in this country is in no way adequately prepared for the next one. We can and should do so much more to protect the people of Haiti.

On the bright side, the government seems to be putting positive reinforcements into play as the new year commences.

Announcements have been made about the remodel project for the National Palace along with restoration of power throughout the island.

Though it may not look it from a wide view, these small steps being made now is what we hope will be the foundation of a better environment for our people in the years ahead.

Be Vigilant This Holiday Season

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Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time – but scammers can replace the joy of the season with the headaches of fraud. Throughout the season, make sure you are taking these simple precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones protected.

  1. Phishing emails– Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company and ask you to provide sensitive information. Popular ones include the personalized letter from Santa to your child, solicitations from unknown third parties that offer gift cards or discounts in exchange for taking a survey, fake delivery confirmations and fake renewal requests for things like insurance coverage.
  2. Fake Charities– Unfortunately, fake charities often pop up during the holidays to take advantage of people’s generosity. Thoroughly do research on any new charities that ask for your money. Legitimate charities will be happy to answer your questions, not wanting to do so should be the big red flag you need to let you know you could be about to fall for a holiday scam.
  3. Social Media Scams – Be aware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, holiday promotions or contests, or shared linked from known friends. These scams can lead consumers to participate in an online survey that is actually designed to steal personal information. In this day in age, we post absolutely everything but, in this case, consumers should not post pictures of event tickets on social media sites. Scammers can create a ticket using the barcode obtained from the photo and resell the ticket. Protect ticket barcodes as you would credit card numbers.
  4. Phone Scams –In general, you should not give your personal information over the phone in any call that you did not initiate. Some phone companies have done us the favor and labeled certain calls as “spam risk” so you already know to ignore who is calling. In the cases that the call has not been labeled as such, use your best judgement.
  5. E-cards – Holiday e-cards are increasingly popular, but they can contain viruses. Verify them separately with the sender before opening.
  6. False Websites – Online-shopping bargains may be unusually good for a reason. Scammers may create slick websites offering merchandise at cut-rate prices without any intent of delivering – or worse, as a front to steal and misuse your account information. Before you order from a website, verify both that the company is legitimate and that you have not been directed to a spoof of their website. Do not use external links; enter the correct company URL in your browser. Look for “https” in the header – the “s” reflects a secure web page.
  7. Gift Cards – You can buy major retailers’ gift cards almost anywhere now – even at gas stations – but check them carefully. If the activation codes are exposed, scammers may have already copied and used the information, leaving you with a worthless card.
  8. Use Credit over Debit – Credit cards will not protect you from scams, but they can limit the damage. Your liability for defective/undelivered items or fraudulent use of your card is $50, which many credit companies will waive. Debit cards are linked to your bank account, so it is easy for thieves to drain your account without your knowledge.

We hope that these tips can protect your personal information and keep you safe. If you have heard of any other fraud schemes and would like to share, comment below.

Happy Holidays!

Lack of Education in the Caribbean

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Fortunately for those living in the states, education is heavily enforced. So much so that officials will come knocking on home doors in search for children who are no longer attending school in hopes of flipping the narrative. Unfortunately, though, our kin in the Caribbean cannot relate. Education in the Caribbean, most specifically literacy, is very rarely stressed at all. If you go, great. If you don’t, not many areas get those visits previously mentioned, so, children kind of just go without. The circumstances are most times so much more different though. Most children are needed to work back home, in fields or wherever they can find to keep their families supported. Though that reasoning is totally understandable, it could be doing more harm than good in the long run.

Individuals aren’t fully to blame for just deciding a life without schooling is the route they will take. Most Caribbean islands have kids take a placement test once they make it to a certain age (usually around their teens) that acts as sort of a divider between the “high achieving” and “lower achieving” students. The score you get on the exam either allows you to continue on an educational path (teachers, doctors, engineers, etc.) or suggests that you should go after a trade (a jeweler, mechanic, contractor, etc.). This act, depending on the individual could but both them and the society in jeopardy.

Most obviously, individual lose the ability to understand essential information. That can be for jobs or just in regular day-to-day life. Lower income then comes from lower quality jobs due to lack of schooling, but this idea can be reworked depending on the person because there are now so much more people starting successful businesses of their own. Little value is then given to education which in most cases will lead to generations after generations repeating the same cycle. Most importantly, for individuals who let it affect them in this way, lower self-esteem can be experienced which then gets into the conversation surrounding mental health and it is very clear how harmful not having a positive relationship with your mind is.

As far as society is concerned, since literacy is an essential tool for individuals and states to be competitive in the new global knowledge economy, many positions remain vacant for lack of personnel adequately trained to hold them. The higher proportion of adults with low literacy proficiency is the slower the overall long-term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate which provides an economic snapshot of an economy and growth rate. It is also believed that the difficulty understanding societal issues lowers the level of community involvement and civic participation.

All of this isn’t known without individuals and organizations working towards rising these low rates concerning education in the Caribbean. People are traveling to teach, hosting workshops for growth and spreading awareness on the topic in hopes that more will learn about the help they or others they know can get.

To Our Men: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

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Sadly enough, in our culture (both African American and Caribbean), open dialogue in homes regarding mental health is little to none. We want to take a moment to open that dialogue, specifically to our men, because it is okay not to be okay.

Let’s start off with some pretty universal realizations: Women are twice as likely as men to experience major depression, yet women are one fourth as likely as men to take their own lives. (Most) men value independence and they look at acknowledging a need for help as weakness and avoid it. (Most) women value interdependence, and they consult friends and readily accept help. Generally, the factors that protect women from suicide are the reason men feel inclined to choose a path of suicide. That says a lot about the effectiveness of open dialogue that, unfortunately, many of us are not used to.

As a people we collectively look to the earth for so many of our remedies. Grandma would go out into her yard and pick those leaves for that awful tea that would magically make us feel like our old self again (after we stopped gagging over the taste). We only ate things that were planted in our yard. The animals we killed were those that we raised. All of this shows how one we were with our surroundings. We still did not realize we were neglecting the most important part of our diet, our mind.

It is safe to say that from early years our people were taught to be silenced. From slave masters, to people in office, to bad bosses. We unconsciously took that home with us. We silence the weak with unhelpful mantras, we shut people out who appeared broken and the worst thing … we raised boys to grow into men who felt showcasing emotion made them weak. Now we, still unconsciously, created a culture of men who hide in their darkest shadows and we’ve given them no clear pathway out.

We are the only ones who have the power to change that narrative. That includes being accepting of a young man expressing himself, allowing grown men to tap back into traumas that formed them into the dark thinker that they may be today and to give them time to allow themselves to change their perspectives. This is not a role for the impatient to take on, and it is okay to come to terms with the fact that you may be (impatient that is), because these things take real dedication and a whole lot of time like breaking any bad habit does. But it is so worth it to have one less man lost from the acts of suicide.

Therapists are necessary, even in a completely “normal” situation, it is nice to sit down and talk through the happenings of your life with someone. As the man, learning to accept that not everything is a gab at your ego but a chance to grow is fundamental. Allowing yourself to feel is not weak. Having to put a good face on every day is not necessary for any reason. Even if you feel you have no one, there is always someone ready to walk your journey with you.

Praying peace, healing, and prosperity unto you all.

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is open 24 hours every day. Please tap in if you even get the slightest itch that you may need a listening ear to sit with you.

No Money? No Problem!

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More and more people are working full-time jobs while also working a side hustle. For those who may not know, a side hustle is a job that you can work on top of your full-time job. It is a flexible second job that brings in money, but it is also typically something that you are passionate about, that you don’t get to pursue in your main job. In between jobs? Awaiting citizenship? Are you just not making enough at your current 9-5 so you are in search for ways to make more? Let’s tap into our stereotype (“Caribbean’s constantly have 10+ jobs”), the one and only time it may be okay to do so and get to work.

Here is a list of some (maybe surprising) side hustles that you could try or recommend someone you know to try:

[vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Driving

If you’re free mornings, nights, or weekends, you can earn extra cash driving your fellow citizens around. Sign up with Lyft or Uber to get started.

Both companies offer “Destination Mode”, which basically allows you to earn money on your regular morning and evening commute by telling the app which direction you’re headed and only accepting riders along your route.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Notary Public Service

Notary certification is granted by the state and the cost is generally less than $100.

Once you’re certified, you can charge your own fee to notarize documents.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]

Customer Reviews

Many companies use customer reviews to get feedback on new products.

Respondent is a cool service that facilitates those interviews that take place both in-person and online (you can do this from home; just look for the ones that say “remote”).

The average compensation is $140 an hour![/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Online Surveys

Going hand-in with Respondent, you can also do online surveys. This is an easy way to supplement your income and you can do them in your downtime (waiting in line, watching TV, etc.).

Here are some survey sites to check out:

  • Springboard America
  • Survey Junkie
  • Swagbucks
  • Prize Rebel
  • InboxDollars
  • Opinion Outpost
  • CashCrate

[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Virtual Assistant Service

Virtual assistants (VA) provide administrative support to clients from their home office. If that sounds like a fun side hustle you can set up shop on your own or jump on board with an established VA company like BELAY or Fancy Hands.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Teaching English Online

Teaching English to young students in China via video chat with VIPKid.

If you’re eligible to work in the US or Canada, a bachelor’s degree and a year of educational experience are the only prerequisites.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Airbnb

If you have extra room in your house, you can earn money renting it out to visitors on Airbnb.com.

With a little bit of traction, you could even cover your entire rent or mortgage by hosting guests on Airbnb.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Baking/Cooking

Start a catering business from home.

You can choose to deliver, have your customers come to you, or set up somewhere for pick up.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Child Care (Adolescents)/Caregiving (Elderly)

This can be done through word of mouth or you can register on sites like SitterCity to being building a client base.

For the caregiving side hustle, check Care.com.[/vc_message][vc_message style=”square” message_box_color=”grey” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-check”]Cleaning/Detailing Cars and/or Homes

This one is also self-explanatory, bring your supplies to others or set up anywhere desired (for car washing/detailing) and work your gift.[/vc_message]

If anymore side hustles popped up in your head while reading, comment it down below. It could be someone’s passion that they never thought of turning into income.

Also, if you have tried any of these side hustles and want to share your experience with it (positive or negative), please do so.

You Know You Are Caribbean When…

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In our community, we have some very special ways of expressing ourselves. Growing up, you probably have rolled your eyes at your elders on more than one of these occasions we are calling “you know you are Caribbean when…”:

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1. Labels on a container don’t mean anything

Have you ever seen a container of your favorite snack on a shelf and ran over to open it, only to find none other than sewing materials inside? Ever thought you hit the jackpot by finding that last bit of butter you needed in the fridge but, surprise, it’s some type of curried meat? Congratulations! You are a chosen one. You are Caribbean.

2. The family is always growing

One may think a growing family is only due to newborns, but a true Caribbean knows not to exclude the fully grown from this equation. How many times has someone brought around a new aunt or uncle for you to meet that you have never seen before in your life? You probably have run out of fingers.  It becomes second nature to accept the new addition, give a big hug like your life depended on it and make that person feel loved. It is something we all should cherish about our upbringing, no matter how random it tends to be, because we love hard and we extend it to all of those in need without ever thinking twice.

3. You have perfected the art of stealing from the pot without making a sound

The best meals always take the longest time to cook. Don’t they? We all have that one story of trying to steal from the pot before dinner was “ready” and getting caught, some might have the scars to go along with the tale. It is always at the last second, those last couple of inches before you get the lid fully closed, that the sweat from your hand or gravity or (in our caretaker’s minds) the evil spirits turn on us and cause a commotion. Then comes the “what was that?!”. All of a sudden, the person who was just so tired that they couldn’t move turns into a track star and ends up right behind you before you can take your next blink. Now you have a hot piece of something burning the roof of your mouth all because you just wanted a little taste. Was it worth it? 100%, yes. Every time.

4. We are a group of exaggerators

Have you ever tried to get instructions, whether directions to a destination or a literal “how-to” from someone who made it sound so much easier or harder than it really is?

  • A destination 35 minutes away is “just up the street”
  • An intricate puzzle can be solved in “two steps” when it actually takes 40

BUT THEN…  when things are simple to grasp the person explains it like it would take so much from you if you pursued it. Moral of the story, nothing is ever to be taken literal.

5. We are very in tune with our “spirit”

We all have that one family member, or this one actually could be you, who uses the fact that their spirit guided them as a response for everything.

  • “You don’t like so and so? Why?”
    • “My spirit can’t take them”

Or

  • “Why don’t you want to come with us”
    • “My spirit can’t bother”

As we grow, we realize that that “spirit” is our intuition (our gut feeling) and then it all starts to make sense. It just sounds silly.

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What is something not mentioned that only growing up Caribbean would help you understand? Though the nostalgia might have put you in a mood, have you ever caught yourself doing any of the things listed above?

Like they say, you can take the man out of the place, but you can’t take the place out of man.