“MY STORY: Agnes’ full tray”

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As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.

BACK IN 1976, Agnes Jones left the comfort of her home in Dominica and headed to Barbados with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over her head.

Forty years later, she calls it one of the best decisions she has ever made.

As a young woman living in Dominica, Jones never imagined a life outside of the 290 square-mile island and away from the majority of her friends and family. But in the twinkling of an eye, everything changed.

“My main reason for coming to Barbados was to take care of my father, who is a Barbadian. He was sick at the time, but he didn’t initially tell me what was wrong.

“It was only after I arrived in Barbados I found out that he was battling with prostate cancer,” she told the WEEKEND NATION in a candid interview.

“When I first came here I told him that I would only spend two years and then I would be returning home, but he told me, ‘No’. It was another 15 years before I was able to visit Dominica.”

Agnes Jones has been plying her trade as a vendor at the Cheapside Public Market for the past 32 years.

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However, although she spent the most of her time looking after her father, she got involved in vending. She has done that for the past 32 years, plying her trade from the Cheapside Public Market.

She can be seen daily with her well stocked tray, offering a range of produce and items, such as tomatoes, corn, yams, potatoes and spices, to passers-by. And while some people may not see it as a glamorous job, Jones said it has afforded her a very comfortable living.

“This job has really helped me to make a better living. I’ve been a vendor for a very long time and during that time I have been able to set up my own business and I also own my own property.

“I cannot complain at all. My life here in Barbados has been a very comfortable one. I can’t say that I have any complaints at all.”

Without hesitation, she added that Barbados has afforded her an opportunity which she would not have had if she had stayed in Dominica.

“I love Dominica, but Barbados has been very good to me. As a vendor in Dominica I would not have been able to live as comfortably as I do now. Sometimes, I would come to town with 200 corns and within an hour and a half all are sold out. If I were in Dominica, I would probably be able to only sell about 40 or 50 of those corns in an entire day,” Jones pointed out.

However, she was left devastated last year and forced to wait anxiously on news of her family after Tropical Storm Erika barrelled into her homeland, causing catastrophic damage. More than 30 people lost their lives, but luckily for Jones, members of her family remained safe.

“I really can’t talk about that,” she said with a look of agony etched across her face. “That is a hurtful, hurtful, feeling and extremely hard to talk about.” (RB)