Happy to be in Bim

Yancica and Enriqueta Osbourne Ochoa.

by Latoya Burnham

Enriqueta and Yancica Osbourne Ochoa are ecstatic and excited to be in Barbados.

In fact, their trip here for the Barbados Network Consultation now on at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre is more than a dream come through for the two Cubans, who grew up on cou cou and dumplings in their Caribbean nation.

Of Bajan and Jamaican descent, the two in somewhat stilted English, told of their Barbadian grandfather, Henry Osbourne who first left the island to work on the Panama Canal. He then married a Jamaican woman and settled in Cuba, where the Osbourne family has kept their Bajan heritage flying high.

“My father always speak of Barbados. It was a dream but he said go. At home we cook cou cou, dumplins, my father is completely Barbadian. We say he walks like a Barbadian,” laughed Enriqueta.

Her big smile now was interspersed with tears just yesterday when they heard Barbadians singing here in the homeland of their ancestors for the first time.

“I smile, I cry. It is very interesting. When the people of Barbados sing, I very happy. I stand up and dance, dance, dance because I am very happy for stay in Barbados. This is my dream for all time,” said Enriqueta, the more fluent of the two.

And this celebration to be on Barbadian soil is with good reason, because up to a few months ago, despite a burning desire to be here for this Diaspora conference, the family did not know if they would be able to send anyone.

From May, they started a fund-raising drive, so at lease these two sister could come represent the family here. Enriqueta said although their father would have loved to come, he insisted that they be the ones to have this experience, and with the help of local Charg? D’Affaires in Cuba, Donna Forde, they were able to start making headway with the necessary paper work.

“I did not have passport. It take long time, but in weeks, Donna help. We had documents and got the passport and everyone was just saying, ‘Go, go [to Barbados]’,” she said.

“We no have no money but dad put the money in our hands to come to Barbados. My family, my mother, my father, my family put a part of the money, the people in the church helped us. The pastor of my mother, everyone help. We visit and the persons say go.”

The Cuban contingent of eight persons, said Enriqueta, are mostly those with local connections who always wanted to travel to Barbados. For the two sisters, it is their first trip here, and in fact the first time they have left Cuba.

“It has been very exciting. It is the first time we visit Barbados. This is my dream of my life. I no want to visit another country, only Barbados because my grandfather born in Barbados and my father have a tradition in my house cooking [Barbadian] food.”

The sisters said their father was fluent in English, which had been kept alive at home by their grandfather before both he and their Jamaican grandmother passed away.

Both singers themselves, the two noted that their talent had been passed on from their grandfather, a singer and guitar player himself.

Asked about any family in Barbados, Enriqueta said the Cuban Osbourne Ochoa family believed their ancestors to have come from either St. Peter or St. Lucy, carrying the Osbourne and Allen/Alleyne names.

“My grandfather was a singer and played guitar. He was a carpenter and a person very, very happy. So happy; every time he smile and dancing.”

They will leave Barbados to return to Cuba on August 15, but in the meantime, the Osbourne Ochoas are determined to have as great a time at the Conference as they can.

So far, they said they were happy with everything to which they have been exposed, from services to craft on display at the LESC, as well as the various sessions in the main conference rooms.

For them, this experience is more than they expected. It is an impossible dream come true. latoyaburnham@barbadostoday.bb

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