Guyanese born, JUNE C. WOOD AGAMAH, MPH will on October 17 launcher new book: Caryl’s Closet at her childhood home in Friendship Village, East Coast Demerara.
Agamah told the Village Voice News that she is excited to launch the book which chronicles her journey from the East Coast village to where she is now resides in the United States. “Caryl’s Closet is my story. It begins when I was a young Guyanese-American immigrant, coming of age in a changing society. It is set amidst the backdrop of a new political system that threatened the Guyanese way of life. It unfolds as I grapple with the immigration system of Barbados in my search for prosperity. My life changes with the reality of a heart-stopping loss that propels me on my journey to America. My quest is fraught with stories of what happens to minorities who pay the cost of social assimilation and academic success. This focus and sacrifice robs my children of the knowledge of who I really am. I was unaware of my need to open my heart. Written treasures tucked away in my closet are unearthed and become the catalyst for Caryl’s Closet. This book highlights my rich heritage for my readers and generations to come,” Agamah told the Village Voice News.
Below is a review of the book by Clayton Quintin Bacchus, PhD
Once again, the good old village of Buxton is put on the world map. Thanks to the one and only June Caryl Wood Agamah! In her just-released book, Caryl’s Closet, this proud daughter of the soil promotes this tiny village in the most uplifting way on account of many big and bold actions as she carries out the will of God. The truth be told, Buxtonians always hold a special place in their hearts for their fellow Buxtonians who have weathered the storm and are successful in life. More than anything, they have high regards for the humble and honorable and disdain for the haughty and the hoity-toity. So, when we read, a simple country girl from Buxton has transformed into an international full-fledged humanitarian, there is a great deal of pride, and that pride invigorates the soul of every Buxtonian. On that score, an insightful and incredible revelation of her life story is now on full display in the archives of Buxton.
June’s delight in growing up in Buxton and the despair of leaving her beloved homeland can well be the central theme of Caryl’s Closet. At the same time, the magnitude of her overflowing love, infused with modesty, honesty, and generosity cannot be overlooked. Throughout her book, there are monumental accomplishments that can only come from someone like June who is devoted and spiritually disciplined, courageous, and has a sacred sense of caring. Time and time again, when confronted with a barrage of adversities, how she held onto her abiding faith to surmount those barriers is unbelievably miraculous. At every level, even when faced with demoralization and discrimination, with a purposeful heart, she would persevere and prevail. Caryl’s Closet spotlights a long and lasting journey – it starts in Guyana, moves to Barbados, settles in the USA, and has been spreading wings in Ghana for many years. These life-changing experiences, though at times, very distressing, are captured in words and deeds – devoid of being robbed of the truth – and are cleverly and carefully put together on every page for our pleasure.
Caryl’s Closet has all the literary ingredients of a good book that make a book worth reading. From start to end, every scene is suffused with emotional and spiritual energy. The description of every narrative is vivid and powerful. Like poetry in motion, June gracefully and beautifully constructs her true story with a title that is symbolic of her actual story. The use of “closet” in the title is so significant and fitting because it correctly exemplifies a period in her life when she was locked up and locked in. At last, that prison of silence has been revealed and released. Oddly enough, this book came about all because of an inadvertent act of an innocent child. It was June’s daughter, Aseye, whose curiosity about her own genealogy became the motivational force behind the making of this book. For me, Aseye is the real protagonist in all of this. June’s use of a whole range of images and a wealth of right words remind us of the past and give us optimism for the future. These moments in the book just add more flavors to an already delicious taste of nostalgia that when you start reading, you just can’t stop.
Our own, Pastor Norris Henry, did an exceptional job with the Foreword. He certainly gives confirmation to the high quality and spiritual standing of June’s many testaments as he sets the stage for good things to come. At the beginning of every chapter, there are captions of quotes from highly distinguished thinkers – giving credence to the content to follow. In the middle of the book, June pays homage with some eye-catching pictures of loved ones, friends, famous landmarks, and artifacts of Buxton, including the famous Buxton Government Secondary School, she attended. From these pictures, we are reminded of the famous saying: A picture is worth more than a thousand words. Those pictures really brought back sweet memories; it was truly a trip down memory lane. I can still see June’s mother, Ms. Walterine, walking around the village selling the tastiest pastries and black pudding.
In the end, one cannot help but notice how June wholeheartedly clings on to her Spiritual-Staying-Power and that Buxton-People-Stop-Train mindset to radically break loose from a repressive closet. Her deep understanding and appreciation for her roots and culture add candor to this most captivating chronicle of her journey. In so doing, June inspires hope and direction for all – eventually resulting in her sharing love, consequently bringing joy to the world. Her many trips with her husband, Dr. Edem Agamah, to Ghana – providing needed medical services to our brothers and sisters is just another illustration of one of those moments of giving back. These supportive actions should not be viewed merely as gracious gestures but memorializing to the ancestors. Let us not forget, the offspring of many Afro-Guyanese are the descendants of some of those same slaves from West Africa, Ghana. To this day, conscientious Afro-Guyanese celebrates Ghana Day.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Caryl’s Closet is an inspirational and instructive publication. The messages are momentous, both for their local appeal and their global impact. Caryl’s Closet comes at the right time when we are all closeted as a consequence of the misery of COVID 19. The biggest message could well be, like June, we can all break out of the shackles of our own closets. This book is not only about an immigration story, but it is a freedom story. It is a story of celebration and education. The lessons we can take away are undeniably enormous. Caryl’s Closet definitely gives us opportunities for self-reflection and redemption. Everyone should read it. Above all, I strongly recommend, every High School student, particularly the students of Buxton, read this most fascinating story of how to gain victories over possibilities. I know it will serve as another beneficial tool to reinforce the idea: It doesn’t matter where you come from, regardless of your background, with hard work bravely done, success will come.
About JUNE C. WOOD AGAMAH
Born in Guyana, South America, Mrs Agamah is currently Logistics Coordinator for International Health & Development Network (www. ihdn.org), a 501©3 nonprofit organization established to help poor villages in the developing world. June, an internationally recognized Public Health Leader, has coordinated thirty-seven mission trips to Ghana and raises annual support to help thousands get access to quality health care. June Co-Chairs the local Community Health Giving Circle in her home town, Springfield, Illinois. June holds a B.A from the University of New Orleans, and an M.P.H from the University of Illinois at Springfield, Illinois. She resides in Springfield, Illinois. June is married to Dr. Edem Agamah and three daughters, Sarah Agamah, Aseye Agamah and Miriam Agamah.