Ms Luci Maynard
I remember going to church as usual with my grandmother and then, as we reached the part of the road where we turned to go to my grandmother’s house, there was a load of cars waiting there and people. And my grandmother picked me up and handed me to this woman, who I didn’t know, and we were put in the cars, driven to the airport, flown to somewhere else and then put on a boat. I think we sailed for three weeks, or something like that I’m told. We came to England, landed at Southampton. I remember it being so cold that I went up inside my auntie’s skirt and was huddled inside there; and she told me to get out. We were put on a train and we came to Cardiff. And I remember the journey and looking and thinking that we was in some kind of hell or factory. England was all factories because it was the middle, or the 2nd November. It was dark. Um all that you saw was the smoke from the chimneys and the little lights coming out the windows and I thought they were all factories cos I come from, you know, somewhere where it was all light, greenery. It was you know, it was so different. We arrived in Cardiff Bay and walked into this house that was so dark and intimidating I found it scary, cos I wasn’t used to that kind of thing. Um, I met my mother for the first time because she left me when I was a baby, so I, far as I was concerned, I was surrounded by strangers. And that was my introduction to the UK.
I remember as a child in the Caribbean my grandmother, when planes would go over, my grandmother would always say to me, “Wave to the planes. Send your love to your mother”. But I didn’t understand what she was talking about because as far as I was concerned, she was my mother. My mother was at work when I arrived and when she came in, you know everybody said “Oh, this is your mother!” And I stood there and peed myself because I was so..it was like “Oh, what’s going on?”.
My bracelets, my mum when she left me as a baby, which she didn’t want to, but she was coming to this country, and she had her gold made into bracelets for me. So, um, put them on me obviously so that I had something and when I came here again. I went to St Marys uh school in the Docks. I went to school (laughs) I came home and my mother said there’s your bracelets. I hadn’t even realised they’d been taken. So when your mother passes on you have hers, your grandmother’s. Well, I didn’t even get my grandmother’s. She died in 2010. It was the only thing I wanted and I didn’t get them.
I think it was only after I had really my own children that me and my mother sort of ever started to get on, because, I don’t know, it was just too much for me..the change...and the lack of explanation. It took a long time for me to realise that my mother actually loved me. When I look back, my mother worked herself silly to give us, her children, everything she could possibly give. She was just trying to do best for you. The woman that I was handed to was actually my auntie, my mother’s sister. But I didn’t know this. I didn’t know any of this, so for me the unknown is a scary thing. I need to have information because I just don’t like the unknown. And yes, it all stems back to that time in the Caribbean. But I think it’s important for everybody that they need to know the process. Because I noticed a lot of the elderly people they get moved off to these places where it’s the elderly over there and the families there. In the Caribbean, you know, it’s there, Mum, grandmother, granddad..everybody and like a lot of other cultures. It’s only the Westernised system that I see people being segregated and I think there’s still a lot that old people have to give to the community. Like the Social Services and all..I think a lot of the times rather than take the children from the family, put an older woman in there who still, you know, got things going on to sort of guide that younger girl for sometimes they’ve not been given any skills you know to... survival skills, how to do things, how to make something out of nothing, how to even look after their children. We’re losing their skills that sustain generation after generation and rather than teaching each other we going out and buy it.
For me the most important thing is to show people the respect and that comes through communication. By telling people, giving people the facts. Whatever the reasons, difficult as it can be, give it to them, because then they can come to terms with it in their own way and make decisions or come to terms with what has got to be done for their selves. They’re in control not you. They’re in control. You cannot sit and make decisions about other people without asking those people what it is that they want.
I went back in 96 as well to bury my Grandfather and I can remember as the plane landed on the tarmac in the Caribbean it was like...I’m home, I’m home it was such a wonderful feeling to just step out that plane. And when we got to the road, the path up from the main road to my grandmother’s I got out the van and I didn’t even stop for my clothes, pick up anything, I just went! It was like I’m back..you know back there and that big on my way home to see Granny. When I left in 96 and 2001, I cannot bring myself to say goodbye to any body. I never said goodbye the first time. I couldn’t say goodbye any other time. But I would cry from the moment I hit the airport. I don’t want to go. It’s re-living that time all over again.