James Phillip Gerald
bb: Hello James, tell us a bit about yourself
JG: I was born on August 31st 1968 in Barbuda and I am from a family of nine children; six girls and three boys. I am the second to last. One sister lives in Texas, another in Barbuda and the rest are all in Antigua.
bb: Where did you go to school?
JG: First I went to a pre-school at Ferny Thomas' home, then I went to Holy Trinity School from the age of five. My favourite subjects were maths, geography and woodwork. I took five subjects and then went to Antigua State College to do technical drawing, but they didn't run that course so I went to the Antigua Youth Skills Department for practical training in woodwork. I became skilled at that so I am now the Supervisor for the Youth Skills centre in Barbuda, where I have been for fourteen years. We do technical drawing, carpentry and masonry with apprentices there.
bb: You have made a lot of things for Barbuda in your work here?
JG: I've made furniture, kitchen units, beds, shelves... It's an essential service for those of us who can't get furniture so easily here, and I've also done a lot of Council work.
I have also built my own house - the one in the picture. It took me nine years, both practically and financially, and now I'm also building a guest house that I'm going to finish by next year. I think the more you achieve, the more it motivates you to carry on.
bb: Tell us about your family in Barbuda
JG: I have three children - two boys and a girl - and was lucky enough to get married last year in the US. I felt I had to leave Barbuda twice, after the death of my previous girlfriend, but I am very happy to be back living here now. A lot of people depend on me for help in their houses - in Barbuda there isn't much development so there is no competition; not many people can do what I do here.
bb: What are your plans for the future James?
JG: To try to get seconded by the Council and the Ministry of Education to teach at Holy Trinity School, to teach young people who are more vocationally minded to learn these skills. My contribution would be to work with youngsters who haven't done so well in school, who may be likely to get into trouble, and give them a future.
bb: What advice would you give to young Barbudans?
JG: Make sure you set goals because you can make them a reality - the sky is your limit.
Be inspired by people you know who have good intentions, and who have made themselves respectable persons in their community.
bb: Thank you James, for being on “It's My Life”, we wish you well for the future.