Former drug addict and prostitute graduates from  UWI
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January 20, 2015
Former drug addict and prostitute graduates from UWI

“I was a junkie; I did cocaine, I drank rum without water for many years, I smoked marijuana, I actually lived on the street, my bed was the sidewalk.”

Not words you would expect to hear from a graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), but that’s exactly who they came from.

Those are the words of Lineth Cupid{{more}}-Jackson, also known as Girlie, who last Friday, January 16, was one of 45 persons who received certificates during the 2015 University of the West Indies Open Campus recognition of graduates ceremony, which was held at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown.

Cupid-Jackson is now the holder of a Certificate in Advanced Counselling, with specified training in working with adolescents.

Currently unemployed, Cupid-Jackson said that she is seeking an outlet where she can use her skills as a counsellor and her past experiences to help persons who may be going down the wrong path.

Emotional during the interview, Cupid-Jackson said that she is originally from Kingstown, but now lives in Layou with her husband, after making a complete 180 degree turnaround in her life.

“I was a drug addict for almost 22 years, a vagrant living on the streets, but glory be to God, my life did not end there. God has a purpose for each one and here I am today. I am here today because of God’s goodness and his mercy and his grace.”

Cupid-Jackson said that her change came six years ago, “and this (graduating) is the fruit of what has happened to me. Thank God for his goodness, because it is his grace and his mercy that has me here.”

Recalling her former life, Cupid-Jackson described herself as a lawbreaker, who would do anything to support her drug habit.

“I would steal to support my drug habit because I didn’t have a job and I had to support my habit, so because of this, I was in prison a lot of times,” she said, adding, “remember I told you, it was 22 years I was on the streets. This is not 22 weeks or 22 days; that is 22 long years. Thank God I am alive today and that I haven’t gone under by AIDS or anything else. I saw so many people go under by AIDS, but thank God for Jesus I am still here today.”

Cupid-Jackson said that her life on the streets also involved prostitution and persons would at times use phrases like “living dead” in reference to her.

“I could remember my life. People would look at me as a living dead. Most of those people have gone under the cold mould today, but I am still alive.”

Responding to the question, “What made you change?” Cupid-Jackson replied, “It was the love of God, coming into contact with God. Being in prison you often heard stories, because people would come to tell you about Jesus, but it was not until one day I was on top a rooftop with my common law husband at that time and there was a crusade below and the man was preaching about the woman with the issue of blood and it was coming like I heard it for the very first time, because when he spoke about the woman with the issue of blood, she had lost all she had and that opened up my eyes that there was hope for me.”

Cupid-Jackson said that night in Layou on the rooftop, she decided then and there to make a change in her life.

“I said, the next night when they come back, I am going to give my life to Christ. The next night the man spoke about Simeon the leper and it was just like if the man was speaking to me and I had a picture inside my head asking, suppose I have AIDS for true? Because being on the street and being a prostitute and going around with different people, anything could happen. I never used to go to the doctor, so I didn’t know. I just opened myself to God and placed myself as the woman with the issue of blood and as Simeon the leper and I just went to Jesus Christ just as I am and I gave myself to him wholeheartedly, so that he could make me a new person and change my life and have me to do whatever he wants me to do and it is his will why I am here today.”

Cupid-Jackson said that when she gave herself to Christ that night six years ago, she did not know what would happen to her.

“This is nothing that I had known would have happened to me, but it’s just the will of God that I am here today. He has made me into this person, he has made me a better person. He has opened my eyes to the danger I had lived and to make me a stepping stone for others that I can stop them from going across that same place that I used to be and I give my life and I will live my life so that I can do anything within my power and within my reach, with my voice that I can stop people from going down the road which I went,” stressed Cupid-Jackson with tears in her eyes.

She revealed that her plan is to search “with all my heart so that I can get a job counselling persons.” She said that she is looking at Marion House and other places that have programmes that involve counselling.

“Wherever I can use my skills, school to school, in churches, because my desire and will is to help people and teach them about the dangers of drugs, to show them the life of a prostitute, what could be your danger. To show them life on your own, life on the street, what it is to be a drunkard who would drink strong rum without water.

“It is the mercy of God why I have my throat today, because I would drink rum without water for many years and God has blessed me so I can sing ‘Amazing Grace’ and that I can be a voice to anybody.”

Cupid-Jackson added that although she has many physical scars about her body and face as a result from living on the streets of Kingstown, “the best scar of all is what I have in my hand today (certificate). I took the blows. I don’t look at the scars on my skin and my face. The scar that I would like to erase is to stop somebody from going through what I went through.”

She revealed also that because of her former lifestyle, her five children were taken away from her at an early age. She said that talking about this usually made her emotional and at that point, proved this, as tears welled up in her eyes once again. She said that one day she would like to be reunited with her children.

“Without my children I am still alone, whether I know where they are, I’m still alone, but God has given me strength. Every day I pray for God to give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change and this is something that I cannot change. I am glad that I have children, because look at the tragedy (Rock Gutter incident) that many mothers lost their children and would not see them again, but my hope is one day I would be able to stand with my children,” said Cupid-Jackson.

Cupid-Jackson at the time of her interview was with her niece Alencia Edwards, who said that she was elated at what her aunt had achieved.

“I am happy that she has made this step. This is a joyous occasion and we are glad that she has made this change,” said Edwards.