Good people can often face adversity and sometimes, they can find themselves doubting whether it really pays to do good or join the crowd looking on.
Barbados’ latest youth hero is not a scholarship winner; she does not hail from one of the vaunted older secondary schools, neither does she come from a well-to-do family with wealth and social standing.
However, she has qualities that Barbadians love and herald – a kind heart and care for others. She is 15-year-old Kerriesha Skeete, a student of the Frederick Smith Secondary School in St James.
The teenager, who has been characterised by teachers as a “model student” at her school, rushed to the aid of a man who experienced a seizure while travelling on a public service vehicle a week ago.
She utilised the first aid training she received in her cosmetology class to render lifesaving medical assistance.
The usual adolescent response to situations like these is to ignore or pull out a cellular phone and begin recording. Kerriesha’s instincts caused her to spring into action and get involved in what was an emergency situation. The driver of the minibus too should be credited for his role, coming to the sick man’s aid by transporting him to the Maurice Byer Polyclinic in St Peter.
Kerriesha’s actions occurred at an important time when citizens are grappling with a decline in standards, a movement away from traditional norms, and the emergence of a counterculture that has resulted in a growing section of our youth becoming disengaged.
Though some young women fall into this category, it is dominated by young men who display little regard for the lives of others and are prone to criminality.
The involvement of too many of our young men in anti-social behaviour is keeping our leaders up at night and leaving many citizens to question the future of this society.
Kerriesha, by her actions, has done much to restore our confidence that Barbados is not on its way to “hell in a hand-basket”, that there are many Kerrieshas on the island, who quietly stand up for what is good and what is right.
In a world where too many wrongdoers seem to thrive, this young student’s compassion deserves every award and reward bestowed on her.
Government’s decision to award her the Barbados Bravery Medal during the Independence Day Honours Ceremony at Kensington Oval and to receive that presentation from President The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, was the right move.
For her selfless actions, which garnered the public’s praise, she was made the country’s fifth Peace Ambassador, since the School Positive Behaviour Management Programme was introduced by the Ministry of Education.
Despite the adulation and honours, we learned this week from Kerriesha, that she was often the object of bullies because of her weight. As we noted earlier, bad things can happen to good people, and we are extremely proud that Kerriesha demonstrated her capacity to empathise with someone who is in distress and to leave the bullies to fall on their own swords.
She rises above the taunts of some students and continues to live her life doing good and not returning evil for evil.
“There is a lot of good in our schools and our young children, our students need to see positive examples so that they can emulate the behaviours that can conduce to well-being.”
Those were the comments of Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, and we concur.
The fact that the kind student paid a visit to the man she assisted, who is still hospitalised, says much about Kerrisha’s character.
She has already pledged to use her new role as Peace Ambassador to encourage her peers to treat others the way they would want to be treated and to promote non-violence and anti-bullying.
“I am grateful to be awarded the Peace Ambassador of 2022. I plan to stop bullying at this school because it happens a lot and I really do not like it. I even get bullied myself for being overweight and I would like it to stop not only at school but hopefully everywhere,” she outlined.
Something tells us, this is not going to be the last that Barbados hears of Kerriesha Skeete. We are convinced she has a bright future awaiting her.