Damian Weekes, at his Beetham Estate home says he is now
headed for a career in international relations. Although
he has lived in the ghetto practically all his life, hes
determined to be a success.
Just south along this street where Damian grew up, is the
Beetham landfillthe place everybody calls the
dump. Even today, Weekes says the people from the
area continue to be ostracised simply because some people
think they come from a wasteland.
Photos: Kerry Peters
Damian Weekes grew up hearing: Whey yuh doing outside?
Get inside, pick up a book and read read something.
The source of the instruction was his father.
Weekes, 26, was born in John John, Laventille and raised
in Beetham Gardens, the place he calls home to this day.
The fifth child of seven, he has lived there with three
brothers, three sisters and both parents for most of his
It was while growing up in the Beetham, Weekes said, he
was propelled, at a very young age, to reject the mental
slavery of life in the ghetto.
From the time he was a student at Laventille Boys
RC his father had been putting his philosophy of life into
was able to bring us up in a way to keep us out of the ghetto
here, Weekes said, pointing to his head.
right in front of us, right to the side of us, would not
send their children to school and not because they
did not have the money to.
Weekes said these parents didnt seem to care about
their childrens education. The elder Weekes himself
would attest to the fact.
thing I was determined on was that my children get an education,
Victor Weekes said in a telephone interview.
He added that as far as he was concerned it was the mind
that made the man.
Weekes said his father stood out and was sometimes rebuked
because he was different. He would put on his best dress
clothes to find work. Sometimes the big pay-off was collecting
bottles, wherever he could find them, in the hope that the
pittance he made from sales would send all the children
So heavy was the financial burden of taking care of such
a large family, Weekes recalls days when he used lime instead
of deodorant in order to go to school smelling right. Food
He spoke of times his brothers were ostracised simply because
of where they lived.
But two of them are now studying petroleum engineering.
want to appeal to businesses and HR people, not to look
at the address... once the resume is good, give the person
a chance, he said.
Weekes described an arena of rabid verbal and physical violence
at least on his block in which every man,
woman and child around him seemed to give and get their
fair share of abuse.
was always some cuss-out, he said.
How did he escape its clutches?
The story behind the great escape was initially his fathers
insistence on keeping his childrens minds uncontaminated
by the negative things and people among which they lived.
The next chapter of that story was Weekes respect
for his fathers wishes. He said he simply decided
against falling into the trap of violence, verbal or otherwise.
He said he maintained this focus in order to pass the Common
Entrance exam. He dreamed of going to QRC, which hed
chosen because he had heard that all these great men
like Williams, Capildeo, Cipriani, James and Naipaul went
Once enrolled there, he quickly stood out among his peers:
he wore the proper uniform and his shoes, although cheap,
were always polished.
He said of QRC: It built up an internal fire and drive
towards going on to greater and greater things. I felt it.
He credits all his teachers with helping him get the five
Grade Ones and three Grade Twos he earned in the 1994 CXC
By the time he got to Sixth Form, his self-discipline earned
him the promotion of a lifetime. Not only was he selected
as head boy of the school, but he got three A-Level passes
in French, General Paper and Spanish.
But nothing in his wildest imagination spelt C-U-B-A.
Weekes said he got an opportunity to study Spanish in Cuba,
though not through his academic performance.
sang at QRC Scout show and someone enquired about me, thats
how Cuba came into the picture, he said.
Once he got there, he said Cuba, like everything else, had
its challenges. He added that when he looks back on those
days he knows now it was Gods grace that saw him through.
Weekes spent six years in Cuba, where he did a Licentiate
of Arts programme, majoring in Spanish. He explained that
the Licenciado was slightly higher than a Bachelors
His said his plan now was to pursue a career in international
relations, which would allow him to use his Spanish.
His father, meanwhile, said he was very pleased with Damians
success. Weekes himself said he was glad he came through
but was now looking to what the future held for him.
Asked how he overcame the obstacles that faced him, he had
this to say: The depression really comes from your
mind, and once everybody adopts that mentality, that is
when you really have a depressed area. Its because
of the people, not because of the houses or the trees or