Totlyn Hamilton had never considered adoption. It wasn’t until she was asked by her stepmother’s niece to adopt her newborn, once she had given birth, that she considered the option.
At the time, Hamilton was 24, and though she says she did not feel ready to take on the challenge, did so anyway to provide a better life for the little girl named Mikayla Jones who she had loved and cared for before she was even born.
“[She] brings joy to me, and to mommy. Trust me, she is one happy child. And to know that she was coming from a place where she was moving around left, right and centre, now she is here and happy. It’s just a joy,” Hamilton said.
It almost didn’t turn out this way. Mikayla’s aunt had taken her as a toddler, caring for her for two years and later placing her with her father.
At age four, she returned to what would be her forever home and Hamilton, who couldn’t bear the thought of losing her daughter once more started the process of making it legal.
The process took a few months and was finally completed in November 2018.
Now six years old, Hamilton’s baby girl recently started primary school but, like many parents, the process of distance learning has been difficult.
Plus, Mikayla is not the only one heading to school.
FURTHERING HER CAREER
Hamilton, a former student of The Manning’s School, is looking to enrol at the Montego Bay Community College, to further her career as a merchandiser. Though this presents an added challenge, she is ready and willing to put in the work, and has received an added back-to-school boost.
The Vansall, Westmoreland resident is one of 125 to benefit from the Malta Back-to-School promotion.
She had first entered the competition in 2019 and won a tablet. This year, she submitted multiple entries and has already been rewarded three times.
“They said I could enter more than once [and I did] and I won, and I won and I won,” shared Hamilton excitedly. “Mi enter every week from mi see it come out, every week.”
To date, she has won $10,000, a laptop and, most recently, $25,000.
Already, she has used some of the money to help Mikayla return to school, and plans to use the $25,000 to buy books and other items for her daughter. Stating that she did not have a laptop before, she is happy that her daughter will be able to use the device for distance learning.
“I didn’t have any laptop before, so she can do her Google Classroom on the laptop instead of on my phone. So it [definitely] helps,” said Hamilton.
For Malta, they’ve been doing the back-to-school promotion for the last four years, but with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacting families all across the island, there is added significance.
“Our major consumers are our caregivers, your mom, your aunty, your daddy, your uncle, people who do things for others around them, [and] purchase for others around them. [We saw] that need for assistance to our Jamaican people who are caregivers, in terms of providing back-to-school essentials for those that they love. Back to school is a pretty expensive time of year, that preparation that [can] cost a lot, Melissa-Kim Dunkley, brand manager Malta, said.
The promotion began July 15 and ended September 15. Winners were selected at random, and prizes included cash, laptops, tablets and two grand prizes of $500,000 for tertiary education expenses. One grand prize was awarded in August and the other will be chosen and awarded later this month.
“We have already [awarded the August grand prize]. The winner, her daughter is studying dentistry at UTech. Not a cheap course, so she has been able to put that $500,000 towards her daughter’s tuition for the next year,” said Dunkley.
In selecting the prizes for this year’s competition, Dunkley says they hoped to address one of the biggest concerns of caregivers today, that of e-learning.
“We’ve been able to reach a good cross section of people who’ve all been very excited to win these prizes that have been very useful to them, especially now with us transitioning to e-learning. Given the current circumstance, they’ve been very grateful for the electronic gifts,” she said.
One caregiver that’s certainly grateful is Totlyn Hamilton.
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