Wishing for Wings by Debbie Jacob


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They were outcasts, the forgotten boys of Trinidad and Tobago imprisoned for violent crimes including armed robbery and murder. They had nothing left but a wish for a better life, the feeling that they would need an education to achieve their goals, and a desperate desire to find an English teacher.

In 2010 Debbie Jacob entered the gates of the Youth Training Centre (YTC), the remand centre for boys in the Caribbean island of Trinidad – it would be a move that would change her life and the lives of her young charges forever. Based on a true story, Wishing for Wings recounts Debbie’s challenging journey of preparing seven young men for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) English Language exam.

Heartbreaking but also encouraging, Debbie’s story and those of her students, offer an unprecedented look into the lives of troubled teens and boys in prison. The realities of the education and justice systems are brought into sharp focus as are issues such as teaching (formal) English in a Creole speaking environment.

It is a story of challenge and triumph; of rebellion and redemption; of loss and of learning, but most of all it is about the Power of Love. Debbie Jacob took a chance with her students, and they took a chance with her. In the end, both teacher and students would discover just how much they had come to need each other.

Impossible to put down, Wishing for Wings captures both the fear and the pleasure of one teacher in uncharted territory; and the hope and trust sustaining her students. The story of their journey together will make you cry and make you smile, but most of all, it will remind you of the enduring power of faith and love.

Debbie Jacob is the Head Librarian at the International School of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. She still teaches inmates at the Youth Training Centre.


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