About the Project

The mission of the Barrel Stories Project is to record and share the stories of Caribbean families affected when parents migrate without their children, leaving them in the care of others, with the intention of reuniting at a later date.

In 2013, we released the fictional short film Auntie, which looked at one aspect of this scenario – the separation of a loving caregiver from a child to whom she has grown close. The film resonated with viewers around the world who contacted us to share their diverse experiences. We launched the Barrel Stories Project in 2014 to provide a platform for these stories.

This is just the first phase of a project that will develop into a creative, engaging and thought-provoking experience both online and out in the world.

Join the conversation on our Facebook page and look out for opportunities to tell your story in the future.

Why Barrel Stories?

Shipping barrels filled with goods are often sent back to the Caribbean, along with money, as a means of support for those left behind, including the children of migrant parents. The carefully selected contents of the barrel can also become a way to show love and care, whether through smart clothes or favourite foods.

In the Caribbean, children who are parented in this way are sometimes referred to as “barrel children”, a term first used by Jamaican clinical social worker, Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown, who has been studying this issue for over 30 years.

The situation is a complex one. Is the child being well looked after by their temporary caregiver? Can a parent create and maintain a bond with a child they are separated from for years, sometimes long after they have grown up? When the chance at a reunion comes, how will child and caregiver deal with the separation? And how do these experiences affect everyone involved?

We’re looking for the answers to these questions in the first-hand accounts of our contributors, but you can also learn more about the Caribbean’s barrel children on the Resources page, where we are creating links between artists, academics, journalists, social workers and others.