St Thomas native Augustus Morgan has been participating in the farm work programme for 55 years.
Morgan, who first travelled on the programme in 1965 as an 18-year-old, is now 73, is one of the eldest participants, and he claims to be “fit and ready to go and give it another 10 years.”
In an interview with JIS News, Morgan spoke of his several trips from the coastal town of Yallahs, from which he hails, to the cool climate of North America.
“Like everyone else, I went in search of greener pastures and maybe a little of that American dream that everyone was talking about,” Morgan said.
“I went to a farm by the name of Fruit Hill in Winchester, Virginia, and have been going back for the past 55 years. I have had the same employer, Diane Burger, who is now like family. She keeps calling me back every year and I am expecting to get a call very soon,” he said.
Morgan said that he has been engaged in cutting sugarcane and picking apples and oranges over the years. He says he has also mentored younger workers “showing them the ropes and advising them as what to do and what not to do to where they too have made something out of their lives.”
A father of five, Morgan, who recently lost his wife, said his motivation over the years was to provide a good life for himself and his family.
“It has never crossed my mind to run off or to do anything stupid that would hurt or embarrass my family,” he said. “I’m not saying that it has always been an easy road but I simply dedicated my mind to working hard and to exercise a level of integrity that would make people want to believe in me and to trust me. That has been my secret to success and I have no regrets.”
Morgan and 42 of his colleagues were presented with long service awards for their participation in the overseas agricultural programme at a function held recently at Melia Braco in Rio Bueno, Trelawny. The veteran farm worker said that he is proud to be recognised. He says that farm workers make a significant contribution to Jamaica, not only in remittances, noting that “we have been playing our part as true patriots and ambassadors.”
Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson, describes Morgan as ‘a poster boy’ for the programme, hailing his hard work and longevity. She says he is a role model for younger workers.