Everyday Heroes : Joyce Gray opens up her home to kids
Even though Joyce Gray has 11 children of her own, that hasn't stopped her from taking in other children who have been abused or whose parents have passed away.
The 64-year-old, known to many as Miss Joyce, said she has opened up her home to more than 20 children since 1970.
Miss Joyce, who now lives in Norris, St Thomas, said that as a child she experienced hardship as her mother migrated, and she never had a stable home.
TAKE CARE OF CHILDREN
"I told myself that for the rest of my life that was what I was going to do. No matter who the child is, or how the child is. I am going to take care of children," she told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Because of her experience as a child, she was drawn to taking in girls to her home at first as she empathised with them.
Starting out as a vendor, she said God would always provide money to take care of the children under her care. She related stories about having a space reserved on her handcart for children even as she attempted to sell her jelly coconut and cane in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Initially, when she started, Miss Joyce said her children were too young to understand what she was doing, and later on, some of her offsprings questioned why she brought 'street kids' into the home.
"I said shut up. It is my duty to cleanse these children," she said. "Some of them had lice in their heads until it spread to their eyelashes and some of them would have fungus that would spread all over their bodies, and when I see those children, I would ask them where yu living? And they would say nowhere, and I would carry them into Wellington Drive [Mona, St Andrew] where I was," Gray told THE WEEKEND STAR.
She said that she had taken in so many may children into her home that neighbours who felt that she was running a secret children's home made a report to police.
"When they really raid me and come and realise, they would say: Mama keep on doing what you are doing," she said. Miss Joyce said church was an integral part of the way that she raised the children.
"The children that come from my house alone always fill the Sunday school class and I feel proud of that," she told THE WEEKEND STAR.