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Feb 24, 2011

Details of Jamelia taken by relatives into bondage


We have been following the story of a young woman named Jamelia, a victim of human trafficking. She was born in Belize City but was sold off to an American national and ended up as forced labor in Fresno, California. Her father, who viewed the story on Monday, stepped forward on Wednesday. Earlier today there was another break in the story, when the woman who Jamelia was gifted to as a baby, dropped by our studios. The story was first featured by ABC News and News Five’s Delahnie Bain has the remarkable story of the Jamelia’s childhood years.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Jamelia’s biological mother, the woman who sold her into a life of domestic servitude twelve years ago, has still not surfaced. But today we learned that while in Belize, Jamelia was raised by Yvonne Estrada, who informally adopted her when she was ten months old.

Yvonne Estrada

Yvonne Estrada

“We were old colleague friends working together and they just told me one day let’s go with me I’ll show you something. And when I went to that yard, they put her in my hand with one lee black plastic bag and wah panty and wah dress and from there I took it on. I had to take her to the doctor because she was sick.  She wasn’t eating and she bring up everything and I stayed at the hospital with her until she felt better. Nobody was happier than me when I saw her running around and climbing on the table and taking the food and eating.”

Jamelia’s biological family didn’t come around until she was about six years old and Estrada says they took the child away when she was eleven.

Yvonne Estrada

“They came one day and they took her from me and said that her mom wants to see her and her mom is by Tow Tow. And they took her and never brought her back after that. I went around and I tried to find out what happened. They said Jamelia went to states with a family member. I gave them my phone numbers; I gave them my brother’s phone number, my mom’s phone number. I tell them give Jamelia my number so she can call me so we can still stay in touch.  Whenever I go around and ask about Jamelia—every time I ask anybody in the family about Jamelia it’s like they want to run away or something. They never give me a straight answer. “Tell her I said hello then”; that’s all I could say, “tell her I said hello and tell her I still love her”.”

It wasn’t until Jamelia’s story was on News Five that Estrada learned what really happened to her daughter and the suffering she endured.

Yvonne Estrada

“I keep sending the message and I noh get no response from then until Monday night when I saw the news and it’s like they ripped something out of me because I don’t know why they keep her from me for that reason. That is so selfish for her and for me. I didn’t born Jamelia but I love Jamelia. I am her godmother, I christened her. We were raised that way—all of us were baptized—so I baptized her, I became her godmother; my husband is her godfather. I put her through pre-school, she was in primary school and everything and they just turned my life upside down from one day to the next.”

According to Estrada, she would have kept the child away from her biological family, but she didn’t want Jamelia to resent her for it.

Yvonne Estrada

“I had a suspicion of something, I’m not gonna lie and I wanted to keep her away from them but for the same reason I let her associate with them because I didn’t want her to have that animosity towards me later in life and say well, why didn’t you tell me mom what’s going on. I tried raising her with that—you know share a little love over here and over there and they just took it for granted and now the pain is on us. The pain is on me and Jamelia.  I didn’t even adopt her like legal adoption and that’s what made me lose her too because when I went to Social Services, they told me that my mistake was not to legally adopt her so the biological mother still had rights over her.”

At this point, Estrada just wants her daughter to know that she was not forgotten.

Yvonne Estrada

“I just came for this to—if she sees it to know I’ve always loved her, always thought of her, I miss her. She will always be my daughter.  If she sees this and she hears, call me. My phone number is 602-2105 or 607-5424 or Aunty Ruby 630-7836. Everybody is sad about this in my family because she is a part of my family. My family, I have to say, is the only family she knew.  I’m praying hard for her right now, asking God to give my little girl strength where she is. Have strength babe and courage and never give up.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

From what we have been told Jamelia’s biological mother lives in Mango Creek. Of note, is that Belize has been placed on the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department for human trafficking. The 2010 report states that the government has shown considerable but incomplete efforts to apply law enforcement measures against trafficking offenders.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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20 Responses for “Details of Jamelia taken by relatives into bondage”

  1. Dr. John says:

    Find the mother and put her in prison, FAST! Make an example of her. No level of poverty or suffering should drive a mother to sell her child, NO MATTER WHAT. I hope she’s on the newscast by tomorrow night and just as this child will be branded for life the mother should suffer the consequences.

  2. Lindsay Howard says:

    Just get Jamalia and Mrs. Estrada back together again. Please.

  3. Sugar says:

    I wanda if Ms. Pennel has finished consulting with Belmopan?? or will she need another week??

  4. cg says:

    Good work Channel 5, keep digging and keep with this story. It’s important for all of us to know, maybe more kids can be saved like this poor girl.

  5. soldier says:

    This is what happen when a tiny country like belize with incompetent,parasites,criminals with a law degree in power,who are in power to gain riches,have hefty bank accounts in foreign countries,while belizeans strugle to find food to fee thier families.tiny belize is a jobless place,with incomptetent police,and soldiers who do the WILL of corrupted ministers,what have made belize a jobless country is the MONOPOLIZED of every buiness,starting with BTL,shame on those lawyers as ministers,hang them all!

  6. MyLegacyB4myPeople says:

    Human trafficking in Belize of course we in charge makes big bucks from this type of activity it all aids in our wealth building legacy scheme we have no plans on stopping it even if it makes the country look bad, as long as we can benefit from it, all about money man money, money, money, see we give the big bosses permits and they give us money to bring their slaves into this country and it is all legal even the court is with us on this and there is nothing anyone can do about it because we are in control here Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  7. Zoe says:

    How can a mother do that to her own child????bz really need to get more strick on laws….

  8. Angry PUP says:

    If this was an American child, she would have already be return to the USA with any Belizean having her at the time in prison waiting to be extradited. Get this child back to Belize to her MOTHER Estrada you do not need to born a child to be their parent,you have LOVE lady get your child back. Get those people that have her extradited to Belize for trial and make sure the child get council and medical help.

  9. Elgin Martinez says:

    Get out of the colonial mentality Belizeans?Why would this lady think that her daughter would have a better life with a stranger?Are you out of your mind?Do you even know if you sold your daughter to a Sex Predator idiot?Thank God this young lady wasn’t sold to the GRIM SLEEPER?Shame on you MS X or whatever your name is.

  10. Arrest and Charge says:

    I really hope that the authorities are tracking down her biological mother and preparing to charge her for her crimes.

  11. Belizean says:

    Buay!! how come rod no blame prime minister yet..weh happen rod u missing in action. haha!

  12. Earl Grey says:


  13. belizeanpride says:

    this mother is insane with no heart

  14. angry woman says:

    Everybody trust foreigners that come into the country.They are God to lot of belizean so they worship them.The mother needs to be punish she is senseless.Belize is not too poor like many other countries that u can’t raise your own child.Please law sucks too much people getting away!

  15. Shermz says:

    Fresno Police Department’s Human Trafficking Hotline:
    (559) 621-5950
    National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
    Try call somebody Mrs. Yvonne to get in touch with ur daughter!

  16. Reel says:

    just like how Beaureu of Standards was MIA, so is Ms Pennill and Social Services Dept.,Commision for Families and Children, all these people collecting fat government checks and sitting in workshop all day long. let them investigate and give press conference now. Kudos to the media for sticking to these stories.

  17. titibelmopan says:

    Human traffacking is not just a political issue it is a social issue, it has to do with the difference between the people who have and those that don’t. This problem has been pleaging Belize for years, administration after administration. I am tired of people in Belize blaming the politicians for everything that is wrong in Belize. When will we all start taking responsobility for what is the true cause, Us as citizens of this country always turning a blind eye, to corruption never following the rules. I hope and pray that Jamila will be reunited with her family back in Belize.

  18. windell says:

    o man that is also from belize i went to school with her in fresno….would never suspect that was happening.

  19. Belizean Intelligence says:

    This has been a tragic story as we watched everything unfold. In total dis-belief that this is happening daily right under or nose . How many other families may have done such a cruel and inhumane act just for money. It hurts to know this is what our society has come to because of poverty. It would be lovely to see a closure to this painful story whereby miss Estrada and Jamelia is reunited . What is happening to our country?

  20. BZNinCALI says:

    @ Angry PUP, this child is now an adult, she may not want to be returned to Belize or reconnected with any of these adults, all of them failed her. I remember giving birth, I am also a step parent & at no point have I ever referred to my children as “it”. Mrs Estrada’s emotions may be genuine but I have heard puppies described with more warmth than the package she described picking up & that could have made the difference in her decision to not legally adopt this child. Belize has had an adoption program in place for years, we have to stop choosing the cheap way out. Having traveled to other poor countries, I can assure you that Belize is not the only country with parents willing to give their children to Americans & contrary to what is stated here, many offer them do so at no charge because they assume that they will have more opportunities, no questions asked. The only people who make money are the officials who speed up & fudge paperwork.

    Windell made a comment about going to school with this child, who sends an indentured servant to school? We need a lot more light on this story.

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