- Tyrone Guthrie thinking beyond handouts
Rosalee D. Wood (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The community of Truro in Westmoreland, came into existence when a hurricane displaced the residents of neighbouring community, Hunter’s Wood. What were once farm lands were divided into residential lots and sold to residents of that community to form what is now known as Truro. From this small community many great people have risen. One such is Tyrone Dave Guthrie.
At the tender age of 13, Tyrone dropped out of school due to financial reasons and started barbering, a skill he found himself a natural at. He rode around his community, as well as neighbouring communities trimming hair. A born hustler and a progressive chap is how residents view him.
At the age of 15, he got a job at the Frome Sugar Factory, the largest sugar factory on the island, a regular path for most young men living in the communities surrounding the factory. While working at the sugar factory and still doing his barbering, he decided to send himself back to school, as he strongly believed in the importance of education. He enrolled at the Little London High School, where he was placed in Grade 9 C, the third brightest class, after doing a test to get in. He was now a student, a worker at the Sugar Factory and still a Barber.
At the age of 16 before graduating school, he was offered a job to work at a Barber Shop in Negril. By this time, he had resigned from his job at the factory and got, what he called,“a nice sum of money,” which he then used to open his own Barber shop in his community of Truro. He worked his barber shop on Sundays and went to work at the barber shop in Negril on the other days. But it was his experience in Negril that piqued his interest in travelling.
He was okay with the money he was making until he realized he needed more. One day he saw a watch displayed in a store for $125. At that time, $125 JMD was a lot of money, but he was making $700 JMD a week. Easy buy for him, or so he thought. He wanted the watch. He got a rude awakening when he went to the store and proudly brandished his $125 JMD, only to be told that the watch was valued $125 USD. His immediate thought was he needed to start earning some US Dollars.
He jumped at the first opportunity to travel overseas. In June 1999, he took his first trip to the Bahamas with only $600 USD to his name. After basically being swindled out of all of it, he was left with $150 USD and an uncomfortable accommodation. He kept his focus and his drive to earn US dollars. There he continued his barbering, and in 2008, he was able to lease a building on which he opened his very own barber shop in the Bahamas.
With his barber shop, Tyrone has been able to assist other Jamaicans who have migrated to the Bahamas by providing jobs for them in his shop. Now he is seeking to give back to his community that he refers to as his foundation. “This is where it all began” Tyrone shared. He further stated that there is so much development needed as it relates to the simple infrastructure of the community and in education.
Schools are back in session and although he had a back-to-school treat in the community, he has seen where more can be done. He is currently working on establishing a Homework Centre in the community for students. The centre will be equipped with WiFi, and he already has a few volunteers who have committed to assisting children each evening with their assignments. He says that not everybody can afford to have internet at home and children who need to research topics for assignments will benefit greatly from this centre.
In addition, Tyrone’s focus is also on creating steady revenue flow for his community and its environs. Tourism is Jamaica’s biggest revenue generator and he wants to be able attract tourists to that community. “Inland tourism” is becoming a big thing as tourists leave the seaside to explore more of the country. Mayfield Falls is the most popular tourist attraction that side of the island, but Tyrone insists that other developments can take place that will not only provide jobs for residents, but also assist in the development of the community and the parish on a whole.
With a solid foundation in education and stable revenue for families, Tyrone believes that the community can be used as a blueprint for other communities to follow.