Kerry Vaughan was driven to tears on Old Years Day, when 20-year-old Cameron Edwards returned her money, which he found at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
Vaughan could not stop the tears from streaming down her cheeks on Monday morning, when she visited Edwards’ Boscobelle, St Peter, home, to congratulate his mother, Reverend Kate Forde, for raising an honest son.
Vaughan and Reverend Forde cried tears of joy as they both admitted that the young man could have easily decided not to return the money to its owner.
Vaughan said after being unable to access the funds she requested at the ATM machine at Massy Supermarket, Sunset Crest, Holetown, St James, she made her way through the aisles of the supermarket keeping in mind that she would use money she already had in her possession. Vaughan said she was unaware that the transaction was successfully completed.
“As a mother of a young boy that moved me. I know that in Barbados we have honest young men. I want other young people to emulate this young man. I stood in the supermarket and I actually cried.”
It was the right thing to do
But a humbled Edwards who was raised in the church told Barbados TODAY that returning the money was his only option, because it was the right thing to do.
“My mother is a pastor. My stepfather is a pastor. I am not a saint. But I know right from wrong. The reality is I got a lot of responsibilities even though I am young, but she [Vaughan] might have her struggles and she has a son and I don’t know what she is going through, so the right thing to do was to give her back that money,” he said.
The former Frederick Smith Secondary student said it was minutes to 3 p.m. on December 31 when he saw Edwards at the ATM as he waited to use the machine to withdraw enough money for bus fare to get home.
The chef, who had just left work, said he had also planned to go into the supermarket to search for an item, which he intended to purchase at a later date.
“I saw the lady at the ATM and it was giving her a bit of trouble because she had me waiting a little while. Then she said something along the lines, if she has money she will go into the supermarket. And when I went to push in my card I kept hearing beep, beep, beep and I was wondering why because I didn’t want the ATM to swallow my card and then have to stick up in Massy the whole evening.
“So, when I looked down I saw her money came out from the ATM and I looked around to see if I saw her to see if she could come and take it out because I didn’t want anybody to think that I would steal it,” he recalled.
‘I went through every aisle looking’ for her
After failing to place his eyes on Vaughan and her child who was accompanying her at the time, Edwards said he quickly removed the money and the receipt.
“I went through every aisle looking to see if I found her and I started to give up hope but I continued looking because you never know what somebody is going through in terms of needing the money. “And I told myself that I would feel bad if I had to carry along the money. So, I walked around and then I say to myself that the only place left to check now was by the fruits and when I checked she was right there,” Edwards said.
He continued: “When I gave her the money, she was asking ‘why are you giving me this?’ And I told her this is your money and she asked me if I was serious. She was shocked,” Edwards said.
As she recounted her side of the story, Vaughan said that not only was she shocked that a stranger was handing her money, but she also thought “it was a prank”.
In fact, Vaughan said even though a few days have passed since the incident took place, she was still in disbelief that the young man who “did not have any bus fare, brought back my money”.
“I saw this gentleman come up to me and he gave me some money. And I asked him ‘why are you giving me this money, is this a prank?’ And he said ‘No ma’am, the money came out of the machine when you went to the ATM’. And I said ‘Oh my goodness, the money came out’ and he said he had to find the lady with the child to give her back the money,” Vaughan said.
She added: “This is a young boy and this is an honest boy who had no bus fare and took it upon himself to look through the supermarket to find me to give me back every cent that would have come out of the ATM with the receipt”.
A token of appreciation
Noting that Edwards had no idea how much money he handed her, Vaughan said she gave him a token of appreciation, some of which Edwards said he used as bus fare and added that he was also able to purchase the item he wanted from the supermarket.
Reverend Forde said that while she was not surprised by her son’s honest deed, she was shocked that Vaughan returned to say thank you and to meet the young man’s family.
“What surprised me is that you ma’am, came back looking for him. Because in today’s society a lot of people don’t even come back to say thank you. So, I am so happy that you came back to let him know to keep up what he has been taught and what he is doing. I am so happy right now to be his mother. He is the last of three and I know how I raised my kids,” Forde said.
Giving her son hugs and kisses, which he welcomed, Reverend Forde said she was proud that her son did what she has been teaching him throughout his life, to always make honest and right decisions.
Reverend Forde, who also failed to hold back the tears, commended Edwards for the role he played in taking care of his grandmother who died two years ago, as she battled cancer.
“He was still a teenager going to school. When we couldn’t lift her, he was the one lifting her morning, noon and night. He was the one when we couldn’t get to her and would get up and wash her and change her in the bed.
“I am so grateful for Cameron, that is the truth. During the COVID-19 lockdown he would stay with her and I would ask him if he was not tired. And he would say, ‘Yes, I am tired, but my grandmother took care of me and I will take care of her”,” Reverend Forde said.