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Set Free by Prisoners

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Debbie Jacob and BC Pires insists I am his Person of the Year, 2020, because, he says, my prison work has done so much practical good for so many who need it so much.

I can’t sleep if I start thinking about how easy it is to end up in prison in this country. And then spending ten to 12 years waiting for your trial.That terrifies me.

In prison, I experienced gratitude, loyalty and love on a level I did not know existed, just from simple kindness. And a willingness to overcome the prejudice that define us on both sides of the tracks.

When I first came to Trinidad in 1983, I stayed in a small, white board house in the middle of a Warrenville cane field. For me, Central Trinidad is home. The rustling cane fields remind me of the wind in the wheat fields around the farm I was born and raised on in Ohio, USA, where weeks could pass before we saw a stranger’s car.

My daughter, Ijanaya, is a librarian in Belgium, and my son Jairzhino, an artist in Seattle. Zino came to visit me in February and got trapped here when the borders shut. My dad, Paul Bowman, died at 67. My mom, Maria, 91, has covid-19. My oldest brother, Marvin Paul, died of Aids. My two other brothers are Mark and Kevin. BC Pires tells me he’s spent 30 years thinking I was Jewish, because of my surname – but I got that from an Indian in Trinidad I divorced.

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Set Free by Prisoners

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Debbie Jacob and BC Pires insists I am his Person of the Year, 2020, because, he says, my prison work has done so much practical good for so many who need it so much.

I can’t sleep if I start thinking about how easy it is to end up in prison in this country. And then spending ten to 12 years waiting for your trial.That terrifies me.

In prison, I experienced gratitude, loyalty and love on a level I did not know existed, just from simple kindness. And a willingness to overcome the prejudice that define us on both sides of the tracks.

When I first came to Trinidad in 1983, I stayed in a small, white board house in the middle of a Warrenville cane field. For me, Central Trinidad is home. The rustling cane fields remind me of the wind in the wheat fields around the farm I was born and raised on in Ohio, USA, where weeks could pass before we saw a stranger’s car.

My daughter, Ijanaya, is a librarian in Belgium, and my son Jairzhino, an artist in Seattle. Zino came to visit me in February and got trapped here when the borders shut. My dad, Paul Bowman, died at 67. My mom, Maria, 91, has covid-19. My oldest brother, Marvin Paul, died of Aids. My two other brothers are Mark and Kevin. BC Pires tells me he’s spent 30 years thinking I was Jewish, because of my surname – but I got that from an Indian in Trinidad I divorced.

Read more

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