beyond the barrel migration & family separation v2-2

Ep. 119: Barrel Children: Migration & Family Separation

Filmmaker, Meschida Philip; Award Winning Journalist, Melissa Noel; and Multimedia Storyteller Lisa Harewood join this episode of the podcast to talk about “Barrel Children” and the effects of migration and family separation in the Caribbean Community. 


About the Guests

Meschida Philip, is a Grenadian-American filmmaker. Her current directorial work includes a short documentary on parent-child separation as a consequences of migration entitled “Scars from our Mother’s Dreams.” She obtained her MFA in film with a concentration on Documentary filmmaking  from The City College of New York. She freelances as a program liaison assisting with securing and promoting CaFA throughout the Caribbean Diaspora film industry.
Meschida acts as a program liaison to Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), and Co-founder / Head of Video and Film Production at Her Billions. In both these roles, she exercises her passion for bringing world-changing ideas to life.

Watch “Scars from our Mother’s Dreams” – PW: Spicemas#18

Meschida Phillip on Twitter and Instagram: @meschidaphilip

Lisa Harewood is Barbadian filmmaker and video producer who has spent over 15 years making cotent for corporate and NGO clients. Her film work focusses on stories about lesser-known aspects of Caribbean culture and society. Auntie is her debut effort as a writer/director. She is also the Creative Director of the Barrel Stories Project, a transmedia exploration of the film’s themes.


Lisa on Twitter and Instagram:  @islandcinephile

Melissa Noel is an award winning, independent multimedia journalist. She is a correspondent and host for One Caribbean Television, ABC News USVI and CBS News USVI.  Melissa produces video as well as print and online stories for several news outlets including  NBC News Digital, Huffpost, Caribbean Beat Magazine and Voices of NY. 
Her work focuses on telling stories about marginalized communities, the Caribbean region and its Diaspora. Melissa’s reporting spans the United States and has taken her to Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Barbados and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines among other countries.

Award-Winning series ‘Love In A Barrel’  (2017 and 2108)

Building Community Around ‘Barrel Children’ ( How I started reporting on this issue, partnerships and the creation of the Beyond The Barrel event Series) 

Meet the Journalist – Melissa’s community talk at Pulitzer Center Headquarters in Washington D.C.

All of Melissa’s Pulitzer Center reporting and work in schools across America on migration impact. 


Melissa on Twitter & Instagram


Dr. Claudette- Crawford Brown is the  Jamaican sociologist that coined the term and has dedicated her more than 30 year career to focus on children and how things like migration cause impact. Her work has been crucial. There would have been no series without her work and authority on the issue. Dr. Brown is working to create a migration center that will aid families across the Caribbean.


On Social @carryonfriends – Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Kerry-Ann  [0:00]: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Carry On Friends, the Caribbean American podcast. I’m excited today because we’re going to be talking to three amazing ladies on a very important topic. So welcome Meschida, Lisa and Melissa to the Carry On Friends podcast. So Melissa is a alumni. She’s been on it before. So Meschida, why don’t you tell the community of friends a little bit about who you are Caribbean country, you present and all that good stuff.

Meschida Philip  [0:30]: Okay. Well, my name is Meschida Philip. I am from Grenada. And I am a filmmaker, Grenadian American filmmaker based here in New York. And yeah, I’m excited to be on this morning. 

Kerry-Ann[0:47]:  Awesome, Lisa.

Lisa Harewood  [0:50]: Hi, everybody. My name is Lisa Harewood, I am a UK based Barbadian I would say filmmaker, but now I’m, I’m kind of telling stories across lots of different digital platforms. And yeah, I’m, I’ve been here in the UK for about 3 years. And already know Melissa, and Meschida, very well.

Kerry-Ann  [1:11]: And Melissa, welcome back.

Melissa Noel  [1:14]: Thank you for having me on. Again. I’m Melissa Noel. I’m an award winning multimedia journalist, and I am a Guyanese American and I focus my work on telling stories of the Caribbean region and diaspora.

Kerry-Ann  [1:28]: Awesome. Alright, so I want to send a big shout out to Feroza Cayetano, out of Belize, because she’s the one who reached out to me and said, Hey, can you talk about this thing in Belize, we called barrel babies and, and you know, barrel babies are barrel children are, you know, those who left behind when a parent goes abroad, and they can’t take their, the child or children with them on their first wave of their immigrant story. And immediately when she requested that I know that I had to reach out to them, Melissa, because I’m aware of the work Melissa has done. So big up to Feroza, and the whole Belize massive. And so let’s start off there, like I know, Melissa, you’ve, you know, I’m familiar with the work that you’ve done. So tell us a little bit about the work. And through Melissa, she introduced me to Meschida and Lisa. So Melissa, tell us a little bit about the work you’ve done. And you know how you’ve worked with our collaborated with Meschida and Lisa, and then we’ll ladies, we’ll just get into the topic.

Melissa Noel  [2:30]: Yeah, sounds good. So this the work that I started doing on this issue actually started because of Lisa. And that’s why I thought it was so important that if we’re having any conversation that Lisa would be a part of that I saw her film Auntie in I think this was 2016. Yes, through the Caribbean Film Academy. And when I saw the film, I felt like I saw my family in the sense that I saw a, you know, situation, that or an experience that you know, the young girl in the in the film Auntie had where she, you know, her mom sent for her. And then she left behind with her caregiver her auntie and went and joined come by there. Now that was a situation I had seen in my own family, but then never hit me that, oh, like this could be something where, you know, people have you know, or it creates some kind of friction or issues within a family. But after seeing the film and having the opportunity to speak with Lisa, I wanted to look into so that and that film was you know, you know, based on things that we go through, but it was a it wasn’t something you know, the people in it were actors, but I thought to myself, what about the people that I see every day? What about my family? What about friends? What about people in the community who’ve had this experience, I want to know more. So I interviewed Lisa, I learned about the barrel stories project. And then I decided, in meeting people who had gone through this experience, one of the things that stuck out to me was mental health and how it impacts mental health. And so I decided to dig deeper into that aspect of it and turn it into a series for NBC and look at the mental health impact of parental separation due to migration on Caribbean children. And so that’s how that got started. But then it really kind of took on a life of its own. And I feel that I’m really thankful to Lisa and as well as Meschida because I realized that there is a there’s a community of people who are doing really important work around this myself from a reporting standpoint, Meschida and Lisa in film and other mediums, but there’s a community of people who know that this is a major issue and have been taking their roles in their platforms to address it in different ways, which I think is important, because we’ve been able to reach several different audiences in that regard.

Kerry-Ann  [5:00]: Thank you for that, Melissa. So that brings me to you, Lisa. Lisa, tell me about Auntie and the inspiration behind that story and why? I mean, I know why we have to tell that story. But really, what was that thing that said, you know what? No, I mean, it’s a story that we all know, but I have to tell it. So what was that driving force behind Auntie and telling that initial story, and then the barrel stories project?

Lisa Harewood  [5:26]: Well, I always I always started with letting people know, I’m not a barrel child myself. But like a lot of people in the Caribbean, I was shifted between different households when I was growing up. That’s what we do, right? We figure out who has the resources at the time to best, you know, help the child. And so quite often people are moved from household and I had to always tell people that the nuclear family outside the Caribbean is, you know, mother, father, children, nuclear family, often in the Caribbean, his grandmother, aunt, mother. Yes. Right. So those are my three parents. And so I moved between households, and I kind of had an understanding that it create some feelings of divided loyalties. And you know, you’re closer to your grandmother, than you might be to your mother, you know, all these different dynamics that are, you know, a little bit complex, and maybe we don’t talk about that much. And in the late 90s, I read a novella that really touched me called Aunt Jen; it’s by somebody who taught me at UWI in Jamaica. She’s actually a Spanish professor, Dr. Paulette Ramsey. And that was a simple collection of letters from a child to their mother who they’d never met. And it just struck me that we don’t really talk about the, we talked about the economic impact of migration, right. We talked a lot about remittances and how the Caribbean relies on these migrants going out. And it’s so normalized, right? I think I read a statistic early on that said something like two thirds of people who identify as Caribbean nationals live outside the Caribbean. Yeah. Well, a lot of those people are parents, and they don’t all take their children with them at the time of migration. And they’re not all legal migrants; they’re not able to bring their children eventually. So what does this do to us as Caribbean people? What does it do to the to the migrants? What does it do to the children? What does it do to the wider family and wider community and society? So in 2013, I had a chance to apply to the Commonwealth Foundation, they were doing a global call for stories about intergenerational love. And I thought that this story of the love between a caregiver and a child and the kind of the love triangle, right between the parent the child, and the person that’s actually looking after the child and the parents absence. Could we look at that, and, and make an interesting story out of it. And I made the film, you know, kind of expecting that, yes, it would show a few festivals. And that’s the end of that. And they would go on and make another film on another subject. And right now we’re, we’re in 2019, and six years on that film shows some way. Every week,

Melissa Noel  [8:01]: I saw it last week.

Lisa Harewood  [8:05]: They show, is showing in light screening in London in two places in London later on this week, it’s screened in New York at the I think it was the New Rochelle library. It’s screened in China, it’s I mean, it’s somewhere all over the world. And it’s freely available online. And so I know there are lots of screenings that happen, where I don’t even know that people are screening it. And also people writing to me and saying, you know, you’ve shown me something that I never thought it would see on screen, this is my life. Or I never understood why it wasn’t so close to my mom, and I understood it from watching your film. Then I started recording the real stories of people, I started going to people’s houses in New York and Toronto, here in London, in the Caribbean. And with a tape recorder and just asking them questions, and have put some of those stories online, on the on the Barrel Stories project website. And at that point is where I met Melissa. And you know, Melissa is work it has really been able to amplify the impact of the project has really been able to reach it beyond what I could have possibly done myself. By letting people you know, by validating people’s experiences, I think people can relate to it. But maybe they felt like they didn’t. Their experiences weren’t that big a deal. By allowing people to talk about it and say, yes, migration is great. And it brings a lot of opportunity. But here’s a potential downside. You know that, you know, what Meschida is doing what Melissa has done the work that I’m doing, other people are doing and said to people, it’s okay to feel conflicted about this experience that you may have had? 

Kerry-Ann  [9:38]: Mm hmm. Wow, I because I was about to ask, Where well I, need to see Auntie, you know, so we’ll get to that Meschida lets you jump in and tell us a little bit about the work you’re doing around telling these stories about immigration and the impact of families.

Meschida Philip  [9:55]: Well, I’m sitting here, and I’m actually, I’m very cold right now. Because I am a barrel child. So I think that I thought that I have worked through all my nooks and crannies. But every single time you’re in a forum like this, it comes right back emotionally. When I met Lisa, actually, when I started the whole process, I was hiding behind my own shield and my own experiences. And I think I reached out to Lisa because I think I saw Auntie in my research, and I wanted to know a little bit more about the processes, and while in grad school getting my masters, I had to come up with a subject to do my thesis on and I wanted to go and do a fancy dance around everything else. But look, within but it got down to the point that I had to address my own personal experiences with this. And that’s how Scars of a Mother’s Dreams were birthed. And it was a emotional roller coaster, because now I had to steer the conflicts within the internal conflicts within my own family personally, and put it out there for the wider public to see. And through that process came with some measures of healing, we I think we are still healing how many years later, I started this process in 2016 and now it’s 2019. Three years later, we’re still going through this. And even before that, I’ve always thought that my experiences, as Lisa mentioned, was unique to me, I questioned a lot about my, my behaviorialism, my isolation to the world, my lack of trust, the lack of connection with my maternal mother, even though our separation was only a short period of time, like seven years. But what I recognize in this process was the timeframe in way the separation between my mom and I occurred, that was such a pivotal time, the bonding part, because we lost that, that portion, our relationship has always been different. And I am in my 40s right now. And I’m still battling with that my sister on the other hand is much older, two years older than myself, and they had a different relationship. So their relationship is completely different. My brother and I, we have a whole complete different relationship with our mom. But it was so much to deal with. And we’re from a community where we do not talk about things there’s an elephant in the room. Right?

Kerry-Ann  [13:03]: Yeah, I was about to say that the, our natural tendency as a people to not talk about things compounds a situation, right. So even, or, even if you don’t talk about things, I think, you know, the…I just had an interview it didn’t air yet, the whole thing about sparing the rod and spoiling the child sometimes, you know, this display of emotion, is, parents consider it as a weakness as an opening for, for children to feel like Oh, they will take advantage of you, you must have always have a strong front. That also impacts you know, as a child, you know, when, you know, like, when there’s a distance do you say, Oh, baby, I love you. And I miss you. It’s always like, ‘you behaving yourself?’ ‘You’re doing this’,  ‘you’re doing you’re doing good in school?’ And yeah, yes, you’re not communicating that emotional aspect of it in terms of, you know, I miss you, or reinforce the tools that we know now. And I don’t really blame the parents, because I don’t think they had the tools to know that this is what they were supposed to do. And it felt awkward to them. You know, versus now. So, Meschida, to tell me a little bit about, you know, was there a conversation? Was there a sit down that said, you know, you know, I’m a Mommy’s going to America, or it’s just like, okay, one day you get up on mommy pack her bags. I mean, I’ve heard stories like that, where one-day mommy just gets up and gone. And or was there a conversation to prepare you that this is what was going to happen? 

Meschida Philip  [14:40]: No for me as a child, all I recall with my mom leaving, I did not know, the conditions behind leaving. So I remember being shifted, be left with my aunt, which was her younger sister, and then shifting from my aunt, who decided to live her life, because when you’re looking back in retrospect, she was a young person in her 20s. So she left, she dropped me off to my father’s mother, mother, who I did not have like a relationship with. So this was a whole brand new family because my sister was and my brother was already living there with them. And that was the premise of how that separation occurred. And to my mom’s defense, she has always been that mother who would try to reassure you that she loves you and everything like that. But then all I recall was, seeing the pictures coming back also, of the white children that she was taking care of. To me as a child, that was her new family. Because you left me and that’s your new family. And I was a very protected guarded child for my mom. So my lifestyle has, was also immediately shifted. So whereas, I was the baby, being taken care of. When I moved to my grandmother’s house, I became now the caregiver or the babysitter to my little cousins. So responsibilities also immediately shifted. And you don’t really know what’s going on; you just have to deal with it. Because if you say no, you’re a rebellious child, if you’re emotional, you’re weak, you know. And we had to go back and forth like that for several years. So when, when my mom finally came back to get us, and we had that reunification, there was a lapse in time because for my mom, also, she was dealing with her own emotional issue. So for her, she treated us as babies that she thought was left, but did not realize the time frame that has fast and now we’re mature into teenagers, finding ourselves and finding our ways so that disconnect that was there between us created problems So we got here in New York. And again, therapy and talking is just something that was not a part of the program. So life just went on, but there was always underlining issues that was dealing with us. And it took me years, I think I mentioned that at the stuff that Melissa had organized when she, we sat on the panel; it took me getting married in my 30s to recognize the emotional trauma that was set up during that era, of separation. So you talking about almost 20 something years, before I actually address the real issues.

Kerry-Ann  [18:03]: You know, you said something about the pictures coming back of your mom taking care of you know, the white children, or these other families. And I remember years ago, I was listening to Stacy Marie Ishmael. And she was a guest on another round podcast, which is no longer an active podcast. And she was talking about how the very same thing like these Caribbean women would come here to work leave their children behind, but they’re turning around and taking care of a whole other set of children growing closer to these children that they’re taking care of on a daily basis, versus, you know, the issue that they have left their kids behind? Is there, Lisa, are Melissa, is this something that has come up in your research? Or in the telling of the stories? Is this something that you know, other people have dealt with? Or has this come up as a theme or pattern? And you know, I’m curious.

Melissa Noel  [19:02]: Yeah, so it definitely has several times over and I first I want to make a distinction. So the word barrel child, right, it was it was a term that was coined by Jamaican sociologist Dr. Claude Crawford, Brown, brown, and, you know, longtime sociologists at the University of West Indies Mona campus. And she made a very important distinction in the definition, right, so that not every child that is left behind by a parent is necessarily a barrel child. And that is because, you know, the distinction of a barrel child as a child who lacks that emotional nurturing as Meschida was, you know, talking about their they lack that emotional nurturing that bond that connectivity with a parent. So not necessarily every child that is left behind lacks that, but for the children who do, that is why they are considered barrel children, because they don’t have that emotional connection, they don’t have that emotional tie. And that’s where a lot of people problems do stem from. And when it comes to the work that I did, the series I worked on for NBC News, with the support of the Pulitzer Center, international centers for journalists and USC Center for Health journalism, was looking at the those, how it looks to a child, right, so to a parent is I’m doing everything that I can to support my family, I’m doing this for my family, you know, I’m trying to do better for my family. But the way it would appear to a child is that, you know, you left me behind, and you don’t, you know, you don’t care about me anymore. And that’s something that came up so many times, when I would speak to parents, they said, Well, I was doing this for the family, but the best interest of my children, but to the children it came across, as you know, well, you left me and when it when it comes to the kind of work that they were doing, I addressed a lot in my series, the fact that parents came here on particular visas, right, some of them and that was the kind of work that they were able to get at that point in time to support their children. But of course, that disconnect being there, and maybe that conversation is not happening between a parent and a child, or even them saying you’re going to be staying with you know, Auntie Jane. And these are these will be the house rules. And this is how we check in, it just left so many unanswered questions that you see a picture like that, in Meschida’s case, and so many I, you know, I had seven year olds, 15 year olds, I spoke to 25 year olds, and it was just to them, they were just like, I saw those pictures, or I saw her other life. And I didn’t feel like I fit into that. And I also felt, you know, feelings of abandonment. Were a really, really big issue. And I you know, speaking to people of all different age groups, that was something that stuck out as a theme overall.

Kerry-Ann  [21:52]: Also, what about cuz I the very first time to be to be honest, that I realize, you know, you know, like I said, before we hit record, you know, my cousin lived with me, and, you know, I, by your definition, the definition that you just told me, she technically wasn’t a barrel child, right. But the reality is, her mom lived in the US and she was living with her, she was living with her father, sister, and her father’s mother, and she, you know, her, her maternal grandmother, we all live in the same community. So she, she went between the houses, right? And so that she, I felt like maybe she was still impacted that her mother wasn’t there, because she looked around and everybody else mother was there. And hers wasn’t, even though she was probably getting some emotional care and her mother, you know, there’s still an impact there. But of course, but I want you to address that. But what also happens is, you know, with Demara Gold, I saw that one woman playing, there’s this other element that that play brought out, like what happens when the parent moves over leaves a child, but while in the process of living here, they also have another child. So how, how does that come up? And how, how do all these things affect the child or children left back home, because in addition to taking care of somebody else, children, sometimes they come and have a whole different, but they come up here, and they have no one new baby brother or sister or both, or two. And then you know what happens in those scenarios as well, the relationship with the sibling born in America versus those left top.

Lisa Harewood  [23:39]: That came up a lot for me and some recent work that I’ve been doing. So apart from the Barrel stories project, I also recently did a virtual reality piece as part of a research project where we looked at whether or not virtual reality could allow parents and children to sort of step into each other’s shoes and see the same situation from other’s perspectives and use that as a tool for starting a conversation. And for a lot of the people that I talked to, that’s very, very common over here in the UK, you hear a lot but Windrush generation came over in the 50s and 60s, that was a common thing of them coming here and having British grown children. So if you imagine you then bring your children over from Jamaica, Barbados, or wherever you’ve got siblings, a lot of times they weren’t told that they had siblings who were born. They met them for the first time. When they arrived here and saw some eyes peeping them through the stairwell, as one woman told me, your siblings speak different with a different accent Do you do they like different foods than you do? I remember one woman in Canada that I interviewed, her parents had gone to Canada and but had come to the UK first and then migrated to Canada. And when her parents brought her over her and her sister, she said for the rest of their lives, it was team Jamaica, versus Team Canada, that those two sets of siblings never really were in able to bridge that gap. One set called their parents, mommy and daddy, and the ones who were brought over initially call their sir and mam, right, because it didn’t feel that that bond. You know, one of the person that I spoke to, you know, Meschida alluded to it, the age at which you leave, has a great impact on whether or not your children are going to remember you or feel a bond with you, if you leave a child, usually younger than five, they will have no memory of you. And I don’t think parents understand this. And so they, they expect these children sort of come to the UK or the US or Canada or wherever, and immediately throw their arms open and go Mummy, right. And that’s not what happens. And the parents are, quite often deeply hurt by this and don’t understand the kind of psychology behind it. They just, they just kind of immediately withdraw and tend to turn more to the children who are who they haven’t easier. Right. And so that just continues and snowballs and snowballs and snowballs. And it’s so common. Yeah, and I’m sure that’s something that Meschida could speak to, from more from a firsthand perspective,

Meschida Philip  [26:09]: I’ve had it on both sides because both parents migrated. My father has another built in family all together. And you find that you find that when my father’s American children came back, they were treated differently from us. Because that was my father’s mom. Yet, you know, but still, they were welcome differently. They were treated differently. So you always have that level of jealousy, competition that is existing whether you’re just blatantly saying it or not, but there’s an underlining tone that is there. And it comes back down to communications. We talked about it we needed it that broken conversations do not heal the trauma that existed. Yeah. And in order for us to move forward we definitely have to address these things. Because I remember when I sat down with my mom, after going to therapy, after speaking to psychologists up to today, I think, after my film has been shown several, in several countries, University in Grenada has invited me to speak about this issue. There are some members of my family who still do not believe that that level of impact is real it was more or less like, I just wanted attention. I’m just seeking it out. I was told if I wanted to have a different relationship, with my mom the onus is on me to make that happen. But I will try. How do you know how to deal with all that, you know, so we still go back and forth with that? I like I said earlier, I realize how much it still impact you and is only when I started this process of doing scars, I stopped in my mom and I asked her, I said, You left me I remember sitting days in and days out waiting for my mom to come for the car to drop her back. And it never happened. And that’s when I found out she basically left for vacation. That’s what my mom did. My mom did not leave us to come here to find work. My mom was an entrepreneur, she had her own business. But she came here on vacation she got the opportunity; she took it because she saw an opportunity to make more money and give us a different life. And that’s how my story got started. So I got caught up in this web unknown to the fact and probably it, when we came here, when I was 15, 16. And, we had that conversation and some level of healing was done then maybe the outcome would have been different. But because nothing was discussed. We continue building up this resistance and this animosity, and this, I remember a portion of my life I felt my mom, owed me tremendously, so everything that I wanted, she had a right to give it to me. And I had the worst attitude. But I think it was me calling out for help, right? And not know these things. So I think what had did it for me when I got here, just seeing how she interacted with these children, she raised from birth until that was her loves. And you know, she loved us dearly. My mom loved us, she still does your mom would do anything for us. But that emotional connection that she had, I think I am still trying to come to terms with it sometimes because I don’t have that with her. My mom still cannot wrap her head, maybe she choose not to. But from where I stand, I don’t think she still wraps that notion around the fact that it is a broken bond between us. And she gave it to someone else and not us, you know. So I see that being repeated in generations within the family. And it’s crazy. It is absolutely crazy.

Kerry-Ann  [30:21]: Go ahead,

Melissa Noel  [30:21]: 

I had, one thing I wanted to add was that one thing that continued to come up again, and again, it’s like, you know, so in addressing this, from a reporting standpoint, there was a lot of support for people who said, this was my story. I never, you know, I never knew this was someone else’s. So people really wanted to hear the stories, but then you had people who said, this is just airing, you know, the dirty laundry of Caribbean people this is you shouldn’t do this. But one thing, one thing that came up over and over again, was that culturally, you know, because it migration is often looked at from an economic standpoint is viewed as you know, something very positive, it’s good, you know, like your parents gone away, you’re going to get all the things coming back to you like what, what more could you want, right and things that you’re receiving. And the thing is that you know that things can come and go but a bond is something that you cannot buy. And one thing that really struck me was I sat with a doctor Audrey Pottinger, she’s a clinical psychologist in Jamaica. And one of the some of the research she did show that people whose parents died, tended to fare better than those who were estranged for their, from their parents due to things like, you know, parental separation or migration. And she was so surprised by that. But then she said it was due to the fact that culturally, you know, like, death is something that’s acknowledged it’s supported. People get that, like, psychologically, you need support you’re grieving, but when it comes to a parent who is away it’s like, what you want, like you’re good, they doing everything, why you’re being ungrateful, they’re doing this for you. So in that sense of not like that lack of community acknowledgement, as well. It’s something that has weighed on so many children, because they feel like they have no right to say, Well, no, I Mom or Dad, I want your time, you know, I want to connect with you in that way. And I found that so much to the point where so we interviewed about 40 people for the series from you know, children to caretakers, parents, you know, social workers, that kind of thing. And what really struck me was hearing kids say that they don’t feel like they have the right to even like, mentioned this to their parents. People have grown adults who are like I, you know, 13, 14 years later, I don’t even I still have yet to address this conversation, because I don’t feel like I have that Right. And that really, it struck me and it gave me some pause and made me feel really sad. It made me feel really sad 

Lisa Harewood  [33:05]: Well one of the things if I could just jump in here. One of the things I wanted to also say was, you know, this is not unique to the Caribbean. Every single immigrant community has this issue. I mean, it was catching up on a new series of oranges new black last night, and there was one of the characters who had migrated from Puerto Rico. And she waited, you know, too long, by the time she sent for her daughters. They basically said, No, we’re not coming. They didn’t have that bond with her anymore. They wouldn’t call her mommy. And I looked at that. And I just thought, yeah, like this is a story of so many immigrant communities. When Barrel story started being made, I had people asking me, I’m not going to do one on Philippines, because Filipino women tend to go as nannies. And they tend to go as healthcare workers. They look after older people in in retirement homes. The Nigerian community in the UK has a very unique take on what they do with children they call a child farming. It’s what immigrant communities do. And I think part of what makes me really empathize with parents, is I think it’s quite easy and natural to empathize with the children. But I also empathize with the parents, because when you’ve been doing this for generations, this kind of shutting down the conversations is a kind of coping mechanism, right? Yeah. When I most of the people that I talked to, for barrel stories are children, and when I say children, they run the gamut from 22 to 60 years old. When I have had the occasion to talk to the few parents who are willing to speak, what I got from them was the pain of separation was so deep for them that they had to kind of shut down certain conversations. The one woman who was very forthcoming with me, who was a social worker in Brooklyn, and she said, You know, every baby, she saw on the street, she nearly burst into tears, every little shoe, she just felt this deep, deep pain of not being able to have her own children with her. And if you think about where this shifting of children comes from, it goes back to slavery, right, your child could be plucked from your arms at any moment and sold to another place, there was no family unit that was respected. And over generations, we figured out ways and I think it’s quite, we have to pat ourselves on the back for this in a certain way, we figured out ways to create family units that are flexible and adaptable. And that can still come together and raise a child even in the absence of biological parents, right. But at the same time, what we haven’t done is delved into what the downside of that is, when grown, people say to me, you know, every time I got a barrel, I wish my mother would hop out, I wasn’t interested anymore in a cereal or the shoes, like the glamour of that wore off, and I just wanted her to be with me. Parents feel the same longing where they are, they feel the same sense of devastation. And if you are seeing them creating a bond with, you know, children that they’re looking after as nannies or other families that they’re embedded in. Part of that is there is also coping strategy; they need to put that love somewhere that they’re not able to transmit down the phone or through a letter. And so we kind of have to recognize that on both sides. And that universally this is this is an issue with anybody who has to parent by distance it’s incredibly difficult for them, in the absence of being able to hold the child’s hand and walk them to school, and they cook them a meal. And that’s what Caribbean people do, right and go, here’s this plate of food. That’s my love, right? That’s my love, right. And in absence of being able to do those things, they genuinely don’t know how to convey what they’re feeling. And they don’t know how to convey those feelings without being so swallowed up by them that they can’t function and do what they came to do. So they shut them down. And coming to a point where you can actually have those conversations is a difficult task that I think the three of us and lots of other people and Dr. Crawford Brown and Dr. Pottinger, everybody’s trying to figure out how do we start this conversations Caribbean people are not going to necessarily walk through a therapist door? So can we do things like this podcast? Can we get people on a website talking to each other? This is the work that we’re all engaged in, is trying to get people to open up.

Kerry-Ann  [37:19]: Yeah, so you know, 

Meschida Philip  [37:21]: What I recognize also, for me, as someone who went through the process, let me just add this quickly, is finding the right therapy. Therapy therapist, sorry, a person who can culturally relate to what it is because you see, it was very difficult. Umm speaking to someone who does not emphasize it, because we understand. So wanting to say, go to therapy but then it’s another thing, finding the right therapist or the right, caregiver, the right organizations, who have a better understanding culturally, what it is your going through, so they can help you identify certain things to take you to the next level. Because not every service is

Melissa Noel  [38:10]: Yeah, is equipped to do that.

Kerry-Ann  [38:12]: Because even for me, you know, I lost my grandmother and Lisa, you spoke about it, you know, you have nuclear family, I grew up in a house where my mother, my grandmother, my uncle’s that was my family. And that was normal, right? My family in the house or my grandmother passed away, I knew that I was going to have issues with grieving, you know, I, you know, I was the big one. And I took care of everyone else. But when it was time, when my grief started to consume me, I was intentional about finding a therapist of Caribbean heritage, because not all therapists would understand the relationship or the connection I had to my grandmother. And it wasn’t like my mother felt less. But I needed a therapist of Caribbean heritage. And I also needed one who had like a spiritual Christian background. So understand, like, just put those into perspective. And I was recently telling someone that if you are going to go to a therapist, you need to make sure that person is an immigrant or of Caribbean background, because they will never understand the responsibilities we take upon ourselves, it because they wouldn’t. So for lack of a better word, I’ll give this example. If you are of Caribbean heritage, caring for a parent or grandparent and this is a natural responsibility that we have, you know, someone who is of a culture that says, All right, your parents sick, you put them in a home will never be able to understand the issues that you are struggling with. Not so much caring for them, but seeing them in a state that you didn’t grow up seeing them. So I think, you know, the number one thing about therapy in the Caribbean is understanding that we need to find people who identify but the problem with that is and the very person said, well, no one nobody know my business. And I’m like, you know that the therapist not supposed to tell no body your business by law; they’re not supposed to tell nobody your business. So they intentionally were looking for a non-Caribbean non-immigrant therapists. And I’m like, you’re doing that to your own detriment. Because you already are setting yourself up for failure in that session, because that person is not going to understand anything. And if you know, going through therapy, you know, your life. You know, I love that my therapist helped me through grief because she was able to unless she wasn’t, she would she didn’t judge me so well. Why? Well, at least you have your mother even though your grandmother passed; she understood the relationship between grandparents and kids, especially if you grew up in the same house. So I think what Meschida has said is critical, absolutely critical for anyone listening, who’s thinking of therapy, whether or not you’re a barrel child or not, if you have Caribbean background, and you’re thinking therapy might be something important, it is super important to find someone of Caribbean background and it’s HIPAA violation if then tell your business, they’re not supposed to tell a business I repeat that, because that’s a no, that’s, that’s, that’s something people are very, very concerned about. 

Kerry-Ann  [38:12]: Because even for me, you know, I lost my grandmother and Lisa, you spoke about it, you know, you have nuclear family, I grew up in a house where my mother, my grandmother, my uncle’s that was my family. And that was normal, right? My family in the house or my grandmother passed away, I knew that I was going to have issues with grieving, you know, I, you know, I was the big one. And I took care of everyone else. But when it was time, when my grief started to consume me, I was intentional about finding a therapist of Caribbean heritage, because not all therapists would understand the relationship or the connection I had to my grandmother. And it wasn’t like my mother felt less. But I needed a therapist of Caribbean heritage. And I also needed one who had like a spiritual Christian background. So understand, like, just put those into perspective. And I was recently telling someone that if you are going to go to a therapist, you need to make sure that person is an immigrant or of Caribbean background, because they will never understand the responsibilities we take upon ourselves, it because they wouldn’t. So for lack of a better word, I’ll give this example. If you are of Caribbean heritage, caring for a parent or grandparent and this is a natural responsibility that we have, you know, someone who is of a culture that says, All right, your parents sick, you put them in a home will never be able to understand the issues that you are struggling with. Not so much caring for them, but seeing them in a state that you didn’t grow up seeing them. So I think, you know, the number one thing about therapy in the Caribbean is understanding that we need to find people who identify but the problem with that is and the very person said, well, no one nobody know my business. And I’m like, you know that the therapist not supposed to tell no body your business by law, they’re not supposed to tell nobody your business. So they intentionally were looking for a non-Caribbean non-immigrant therapists. And I’m like, you’re doing that to your own detriment. Because you already are setting yourself up for failure in that session, because that person is not going to understand anything. And if you know, going through therapy, you know, your life. You know, I love that my therapist helped me through grief because she was able to unless she wasn’t, she would she didn’t judge me so well. Why? Well, at least you have your mother even though your grandmother passed; she understood the relationship between grandparents and kids, especially if you grew up in the same house. So I think what Meschida has said is critical, absolutely critical for anyone listening, who’s thinking of therapy, whether or not you’re a barrel child or not, if you have Caribbean background, and you’re thinking therapy might be something important, it is super important to find someone of Caribbean background and it’s HIPAA violation if then tell your business, they’re not supposed to tell a business I repeat that, because that’s a no, that’s, that’s, that’s something people are very, very concerned about. 

Melissa Noel  [41:09]: And I wanted to mention a father and a son, Errol Ray, senior and Errol Ray Jr. That were, you know, featured in part of part two of my NBC News series, I focused on them a lot, because one I didn’t, you know, a lot of the stories that, you know, I had, you know, told and was working on had been focused on women, but I also wanted to, like look at how it affects young men or just men in general. And so this father’s son pair, what they did was, you know, so Errol Ray senior left his son when he was just a few days old. But he did that, because that’s when his visa had come through. And he wanted to take the opportunity to come to the states and work and support his son. And he took he said he made that sacrifice, but he regrets the fact that he missed so many crucial parts of his son’s life. So his son came to the states when he was 16. And they had a very rocky relationship, because, you know, they spoke every day, or they spoke where they spoke every week, but speaking to somebody and living with somebody are two different things. And they sought out help from their pastor, you know, who is a Jamaican pastor who they could trust, who is a is a licensed therapist, but could culturally connect to the issues that were taking place in their home. And they felt that level of comfort, because what I was able to what my reporting showed me was that there are no federal programs that address that provide therapy, or that provide this kind of support to families, once they are reunited, what you have are these programs where people who let’s say, your family comes here and you are seeking asylum status, or refugee status, there is that type of programming but for people who are separated due to parental migration, parents came here to work, that kind of thing We found no programs. So as a community, people are a lot of people have been reaching out to their churches, or to someone that recommended them, you know, through someone else that they trust. And that is what have that cultural competency and connection. And could understand, like why, you know, your dad is telling you, you know, you’re in America, now you must do XYZ, and he’s just like, Well, you can’t tell me what to do. So that was very, very crucial. And I found that some of the families that were able to have that connection to a therapist who had that same understanding, it helped them tremendously. And whereas for others, it’s still trying to figure out a way to have that conversation to get that help to even talk about it. 

Lisa Harewood  [43:39]: I mean, it’s…Sorry, I’d like to put in a little plug here for Dr. Crawford Brown in Jamaica, because she’s written some guides. And she’s also her particular Institute in Jamaica, trains social workers in Jamaica. And I think, you know, there may be people who are not trained to recognize what the fallout is of parental separation due to migration, but they can certain there’s certain Now, now a few more resources that can help them to understand I remember when that same screening that I think Melissa came to somebody in the audience who was, I think a white New Yorker said, you know, ask the question about how these parents can abandon their children. And if you heard the collective steupes from the audience, right? Because people from outside the culture who don’t, who are privileged enough to be able to earn money and find opportunities where they are born and where they live, do not understand the choices that these parents have made. And it is absolutely not, in most cases, absolutely not abandonment. Lots of times, these parents are not going to reap the rewards of the hard work it is for the next generation that’s really going to reap it through education and to increase opportunity. And so when you sit down in front of a mental health professional who immediately passes that kind of judgment, it can it closes is everything down. And I think we also have to expand the definition of what therapeutic can look like, when I think about the spaces in which Caribbean people have the kind of most wide ranging most comfortable conversations is usually in the salon and the barbershop chair. You know, there are places and spaces where people have conversations and unburden themselves, that are not formal spaces of therapy. And while there are people who do have some deep traumas, a lot of people don’t have, say, the level of trauma that requires them to go and see a therapist or they simply won’t do it. But a conversation with other people who’ve been through the same thing, a conversation with a cousin or a friend says yeah, man, thank you. I feel that same way. Like that’s exactly what happened to me. You know, that helps so much a lot of the people who ever recorded for borrow stories, when I you know, sometimes I get up and I think, gosh, you know, am I doing anything, you know, really helpful here, I just came in, and you know, you just dug up all this stuff. And I’m going to go and that’s it, like you’re left with these feelings. And more than one person said to me just being able to be heard. And to know that what I’m saying is valid has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. And we shouldn’t underestimate the power of a simple conversation. Even with somebody who’s completely untrained. Don’t underestimate the power of simply listening to that friend, or that family member or that loved one who wants to tell you about these complex feelings and simply saying to them, that’s okay that you feel that way.

Kerry-Ann [46:33]: You know, and I’m going to get to you Meschida. So a few episodes ago, I interviewed Marlon Hill, who was very active in the Caribbean community, he’s based out in Florida, and we were talking about or immigration stories, right? And how, he said something, which I truly believe is an opportunity for social entrepreneurship, where it’s almost like, you know, we were saying, Yeah, you have Carnival concierge, where everybody help you plan? Is there an organization that can be of a support where people turn to? To say, Well, I’m bringing my kids over here? What should I be looking forward to? Because in addition, you know, I, as a parent, I can now sympathize with certain things that my mom went through, what kind of schools Are they going to get into? How do I, you know, create time to build relationship with my children? Are there any resources already available? You’re saying that there’s not really any, but do you think there’s an opportunity for a such an organization to exist to help immigrants, you know, whether even whether it’s situations like my mom, where she bring all herself and all our kids at one time, or four children who barrel children or non barrel children in that process, because there is a lot to adjust to coming to America period? You know? So is, is, is there really an opportunity for such an organization? And if and then what are some of the resources Meschida for you specifically, would something like that have helped you, you know, maybe even for you to adjust in school, or for maybe your mom,

Meschida Philip  [48:09]: I think something like that, I remember speaking to friends and colleagues, and you talked about that, because we do not have a place to turn to, we really and truly don’t have a place to turn to. My story there was a level of alienation also, because not only did we migrate to the US, but we migrated to a predominantly white community that was far away in about an hour, hour and a half away from any kind of Caribbean connection that we had. That was another dynamics that we had to cope with. And you did not really have resources, you just have to figure it out you know, when…Yeah, we just have to figure it out. And I think by having those resources, it can really help. Because even now, with social media with virtual reality, as Lisa, spoke about earlier, the dynamics of communication is so different. Yeah. But the bond, the broken bond is still there, because there’s still that human connection that, you know you needed. And we still need to address that, because there is still an underlining tone. How do we repair those broken bonds? Because now I think is even worse. Back then we had airmail that I would wait for a response from my mom if I had an issue. And then if I didn’t, you would you deal with it right? But now is instant. Now the portrayal of that family of a parent living in a foreign country, that kid is seeing that instant replay of what is perceived as their new life here in America, you know, so there’s a lot of underlining human questions that still exists. And I think you still need that.

Kerry-Ann  [50:14]: So you’re saying that because that was a question that I wanted to ask Lisa, of all of you, if that came up. So you know, when I came to America, you know, it was Air Mail, and then you got phone cards? And then know we have, you know, WhatsApp and FaceTime and all of this. And I would, you know, I was thinking, whether the improvements in technology made it easier to have more face time or connect with the other parent, as opposed to you know, back in the day when all you had was letters and you know, if you got a phone call, it was come put everybody on the phone quickly. You know, cuz I remember those situations. So I, so you don’t think the technology has improved? Yes, human touch is important. But, you know, I was thinking maybe having more conversations, or maybe seeing the face would have helped a little bit. But you’re saying it’s not? It’s… 

Meschida Philip  [51:07]: No, no. I showed my film in George’s University in Grenada, I took a scan across the classroom. And I remember seeing one of the young ladies like her whole body position changed. And after the film was finished, I had a conversation with her. And for her, she asked me very same question, because now she’s sitting in Grenada, yes, she has that direct, constant contact with her mom on WhatsApp and all the new technology. But the life that she is seeing that her mom is living is something that she say, she left me and then she living the good life, So she’s interpreting it now, as something completely different. You know. And that is another layer that used to be addressed, because we still need to rectify this, what is being portrayed a social media, what is being portrayed, when you see when you have that opportunity to see that person’s life in real time, how are we being interpreted to the kids or to the family being left behind, you know, I am not experienced in that way, but that is something to really start considering, Lisa did the piece, the research on the virtual reality, maybe she can answer what or say a little bit more.

Lisa Harewood  [52:37]: I mean, I think one of the things we have to kind of get to is, even if the technology is there, if you as a parent don’t understand fundamentally, how to parent from a distance, no amount of technology is going to be helpful. So it comes down to people understanding how to use right, it’s a tool. But quite often, it’s still used in the same way that we used to use the phone, which is I just heard the last school report and these grades not looking good. And I’m up here killing myself for you and you not doing what you’re supposed to do right. It isn’t used as a tool for saying, How are you feeling about everything, let me tell you about why it’s taking so long. Parents have to understand that there needs to be some transparency, they need to explain to their children at every step of the way, what’s going on, they need to transmit, that they love them and that they miss them. And if you if you aren’t emotionally equipped to do that, it doesn’t matter if you have FaceTime, WhatsApp, you know, whatever you have, if all you’re using it to do is to sort of discipline or do these check ins that aren’t really giving the children any real information, kids are going to make up stories, in the absence of information. And those stories stay with them for their entire lives. And it’s only when sometimes people grow up and actually managed to have a honest conversation they go, you know, this entire time, I thought that you didn’t miss me that you were out there having a blast, I saw these pictures of you, you know, it, the technology is there. But we still have to give parents a certain amount of training. I mean, most parents don’t know how to parent successfully in person. It’s something that everybody kind of stumbles their way through. Imagine trying to do that, when you have this massive distance between you and all these potential pitfalls, that’s something that has to be people have to have some sort of level of training to do and whether or not we, you know, I’m beginning to work on doing a podcast series on this very thing. We’re talking about doing things like partnering with the same companies that ship the barrels, to include that whole booklet, so that when you go to ship, the barrel that says, you know, if you’re sending this little child, here are five things to remember about what might be useful to add to, you know, add to the barrel, some people have said to me, it was great to get all this brand, name stuff but my mother would make me something homemade, like some cookies, and getting that in the barrel meant more to me than the cookies that she bought from Costco, or wherever, right? So parents have to be taught these things. It’s not something that’s not it’s going to come naturally to most parents, and training people how to use the technology. And we also can’t assume that the technology is as accessible. As everybody thinks it is. I’ve met a lot of people who are, you know, not able to afford cell phones, smartphones, they have just very simple phones, phone credit is still out of the reach of a lot of people working minimum wage jobs. It isn’t as accessible, we have to think about people at all levels of the spectrum, they’re still amongst people in a lot of minimum wage jobs amongst our immigrant community. And we don’t want to talk about it, but there’s a level of illiteracy, as well. So simple things like sending text messages are not as easy for some people as you may think it is. So we’ve got to kind of get in there and have all sorts of different kinds of ways to reach people where they’re at, and give them the tools to be able to do this successfully. And it might not be possible for it to be a single organization. But it’s about finding where people are already interacting, whether it’s with I know that the country associations do a lot of work informally in this the various high commissions, there’s, there’s a lot of support that’s quite informal, and depends on the strength of the person who’s engaging with the community at the time, finding a way to formalize those things and coming to some sort of standard and agreement amongst all these different organizations that already doing this work about how we help these families is probably the best way to approach it. Go where people are already comfortable going.

Kerry-Ann  [56:52]: Going, you know, Melissa, and Meschida, you haven’t you may have seen this because there’s a campaign in New York where there’s these posters, and it’s showing you how to listen to someone who says they have a bad day or something. Have you seen those campaigns? Around mental health? Is there something available? Whereas I’m not a barrel child, but I may know someone who’s a barrel child tips on how to kind of listen to them more encouraged them? Because like you said, you know, they’re having conversations where they’re comfortable, whether, you know, as we SIT in church, or we in hairdresser or with somewhere? How to kind of really know how to let them have that conversation without me as a child telling my cousin she lucky because she have our mother in America? I mean, at the time, I wouldn’t know. And a lot of times adults don’t really know how to support another adult that way. So are there any resources to help people kind of support people who are going through that if they’re not at a point, and like you said, you know, they may not, they may not be able to go to therapy, they don’t have insurance to cover it, or whatever the reason is, but what can we do to support someone who has the barrel child experience and are still dealing with, you know, the repercussions? Or there’s the long lasting impacts of that experience?

Melissa Noel  [58:15]: I think, overall, as we’ve mentioned, so people are doing this work. Right. So you know, let’s go back to Dr. Claudette Crawford Brown in Jamaica, there are these like migration checklist that do exist there, there are family meetings that they have with parents and, you know, before a parent migrates how to how to have a conversation with your child, how to set a schedule, how to let them know who they’re staying with that kind of thing. And what that like, you know, what that would look like in the household setting that schedule? And then when it comes to, you know, reunification, there are social workers, you know, in the New York area, some I’ve connected with in the Toronto area that are doing this, people are doing it, it’s not I don’t, it’s not as widespread as you know, I think we all would hope it to be. But I think that through the community that is being built of people who have one gone through this experience, and to others who have, you know, worked in trying to understand or helping people to share their experiences through this, these mediums we’re getting there. However, I don’t know that there’s like, you know, there’s no resource that I can directly point to. And I think that was one of the biggest things that was the reason. And why Lisa Meschida and I connected on doing the beyond the barrel series where we brought, you know, several people together to not only discuss, but to figure out what kind of solutions can we come to as a community, right, not looking to other people to solve our problems, but how can we do it ourselves as a people? So I don’t think that we necessarily found that, you know, one solution, but I think that it has started in so many different places, but that to continue that, but there are some things that you know, just under understanding, I have taken the stories, this story series and through the Pulitzer Center, brought it to classrooms. And one of the things that stuck out to me about students, right, as young as 10 years old, when they understood why the why behind it like, oh, they’re doing this for their family. And you know, or they are they wanted to know, well, why is the separation so long and I said, Look, think about the immigration process to come to a country, particularly the United States. And what is happening right now with immigration, a process that’s already long, now being made even longer due to the backlogs and due to what’s taking place with this administration. So I think understanding is key, you know, not being judgmental, but listening to understand not listening to respond, but listening to understand, it helps you to be more empathetic to someone’s experiences. And then from there, like we said, we talked about seeking out those people that have you know, that Caribbean heritage or background, I just don’t think that there’s just one solution. But being able to understand that it’s complex, it’s not just a parent picked up and said, I’m going to go to America, their economic, you know, factors that play into it, there are immigration factors that play into the length of time that people are separated. And the average and I found was between five and eight years. And that’s a long time, particularly as we talked about when you if you’re thinking about at what age a child is left. So there’s so many different factors so that listening to understand and instead of to respond is a great place to start. And then I think the fact that films like Auntie, or scars of my mother’s dreams exist gives people I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me to say those films help them or those films allowed them to understand that they are not alone in this and that other people understand and that it’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling 20 years later. And you do not have to be ashamed of that. I think there’s something very powerful. And people being able to connect, I went to an event just last week where Lisa’s film, film was played. And there was a lady in the audience crying, and she said that was me. I think there’s something very powerful about us being able to see ourselves and our experiences, no matter if they’re good or bad, or in between, because they’re a variation of experiences. And one thing I really appreciated about the battle stories project is that it showed you that not all of the experiences were bad.

Kerry-Ann  [1:02:41]: Yeah. 

Melissa Noel  [1:02:42]: I think that’s important for people to know too. But there are different experiences. 

Kerry-Ann  [1:02:47]: And that brings me back to Feroza’s original question. And I want each of you to kind of give me a little summary. She was like, you know, the effects, whether negative or positive. So we’ve been spending a lot of time on somewhat the positive the negative impacts of what this experience is, what are some potential positive impacts from this whole the experience? Because they are? I mean, like you said, Melissa, not everyone has had a negative experience. So what are, you know, what was something positive Meschida, if anything that came from your experience?

Meschida Philip  [1:03:28]: Because the positives are, we have accomplished what my mom has set out to do. To provide us a better life, we do live a very good quality of life here in America; I was able to obtain my master’s degree first generation, within our family. So, within my family’s we have made our mom proud. All of us are basically college graduates, so we have achieved that accomplishment for her. And I must say another positive is in the time, we were reunited with our mom, there was never one day of separation in that sense, physical separation. We have always been consistently living with our mom. And she has always nurtured us in that sense. But that does not negate the emotional challenges that we have faced. And yeah, and that has been it’s a roller coaster. 

Kerry-Ann  [1:04:38]: Yeah, yeah. Lisa, Melissa,

Lisa Harewood  [1:04:42]: I think in the best case scenarios, people will tell you that they feel like they had two three parents, right. In a situation where people were able to kind of find the right balance. And parents were able to communicate well, people had the love of a grandmother or the love of an aunt or the love of, you know, somebody from outside the family who looked after them. So they had several great maternal or paternal relationships in their lives. In terms of opportunity, you know, the Caribbean is a really vulnerable set of islands, right a hurricane can come through any year, and wipe out whole economies, we don’t, you know, we’re really reliant on tourism, lots of things make us quite vulnerable. So the opportunities unfortunately, are and continue to be outside until maybe we start to build up those, those economies ourselves a little bit more without migration, both the people who leave and take their children and those who are left behind, because it’s not just children who are left behind who benefit barrels don’t just go to children, they go to entire families, the remittances goes to entire families. And the reality is people are going to leave, they’re going to leave because that’s how our countries are able to function and continue to develop and to grow. The Question is only about when those people leave, how do we keep those family ties strong and prevent people from suffering and also prevent the people who have migrated from feeling, you know, like they’ve done something wrong, for feeling heavily overburdened with their responsibilities back home. I think when those things are in balance, we have a lot of success stories. And we have a lot to be proud of. We’re incredibly resilient people. And incredibly, you know, loyal to our families loyal to our communities, people who’ve migrated and have no more family ties till send barrels back to hospitals and schools and we’re incredible. And we should be patting ourselves on the back from what we do for each other and for our societies as a whole. We just need to look at the downsides of it. And make sure that we minimize those downsides while we continue to reap the benefits.

Kerry-Ann  [1:06:52]: Good point. Good point.

Melissa Noel  [1:06:55] Just to, Lisa really summarized everything I was thinking, which is awesome. Just one other thing I wanted to add was that I think that a positive is that we have, you know, through these experiences, and now being it being in a space where we are talking not only talking about it, but putting some action behind it and using our platforms in different ways to address it. We’ve created stronger, both regional and diaspora connections on migration issues that are going to help the next generation. This is not just for us, right. This is not just for now and people who are in being impacted. Now we are addressing it now. And working on ways to increase the ways we address this and put action behind it get resources, more resources to people because there are some out there. But we’re also trying to ensure that we mitigate this for the next generation. Because as we mentioned, people are not going to stop migrating, right? Just due to the economies of the Caribbean that is going to be in many other places around the world, that is going to be a fact of life. But how do we mitigate this emotional trauma or mitigate the impact it has on family ties, so that we can continue to develop strong children, strong leaders and continue to build our families who, who people who come we come here to create better lives, and many people do that. But you don’t want to break down the family bond at the process. So I think that we have been able to create stronger ties regionally and in the, and in the diaspora, which is, I think, crucial to, you know, because there’s both sides, you know, it’s the people who are left behind and the people who are here in then that reunification, I think it’s important for us to understand how we should and can work together in order to move us forward as a as a community as a people and not only look to within that sense, but then to also to grow from it. Because if we’re not talking about the good with the bad, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

Kerry-Ann  [1:08:58]: Absolutely. And, ladies, as we wrap up, please tell the community where they could find you. I’ll definitely speak to you a little bit after we end recording to get resources so I could put in the show notes, but just tell everyone where they could find you website social media handle Meschida, you go.

Meschida Philip  [1:09:18]: I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, under the handle the MeschidaPhilip. So the Facebook site for the movie is scars of a mother’s dreams I will send it to you if you would like to get access to the film, because it’s not available publicly. 

Kerry-Ann  [1:09:41]: Okay, got it. Lisa.

Lisa Harewood  [1:09:54]: Yes, for anybody who wants to either see Auntie which is the film AUNTIE, a 16 minute short film or to listen to some of the stories that I’ve collected over the past little while, you can go to And when you land on that front page, you’ll have a choice of either watching the film or listening to the stories. They’re currently eight, eight stories out there and there’s more coming. And in terms of social media, I’m on Facebook; I have one page for Auntie the short film and another page for Barrel stories. Feel free to join either one and join in the conversation.

Kerry-Ann  [1:10:31]: Okay, and Melissa.

Melissa Noel  [1:10:34]: So I’m pretty much Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Melissa Noel reports So I feel please feel free to email me or send me a message on my pages on Facebook or Instagram.

Kerry-Ann  [1:10:50]:  All right. Ladies, thank you so much for joining this really critical and important conversation. Thanks you for sharing your experiences your stories. Just really thank you. And thank you everyone for listening. And again, thank you Feroza for, you know, asking me to cover it because, you know, I’m aware that Melissa did the story but you know, more opportunities to have these discussions, diversify the platforms are having these discussions is so important. So, as I like to say at the end of the show, walk good


Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.