CIG reneged on promise to young college student

| 26/08/2011

(CNS): Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam and the Premier McKeeva Bush’s Young Nation Builders Programme have provided financial assistance in part to Japheth Ebanks, an American teenager with Caymanian parents who was accepted into the Florida Atlantic University (FAU)at age 13. According to Japheth’s mother, Marvel Ebanks, after the boy was accepted by FAU they were contacted by Adam, who said that the Cayman Islands Government would be there to support his educational expenses. However, she claims that the government has stopped paying their expenses and Japheth is now at risk of having to leave the university.

According to Marvel Ebanks, she and Japheth were living in Washington at the time he was accepted into FAU and was contacted by Adam, who said that the government would be there to support Japheth’s educational expenses. At the minister's request, government officials made flight arrangements for Ebanks and her son to get to Miami and assured them that they would be flown back to collect their remaining belongings.

“The Cayman Islands Government’s assistance at that point was the only reason that Japheth was able to start college at 13-years-old,” said Ebanks. “The child's momentum and enthusiasm was in high gear as he eagerly entered into a very demanding and challenging course load.”

Ebanks claims that when Japheth started college, they had no transportation or accommodation close to the campus and he was not eligible to live in the campus dormitories due to his age, so they were forced to walk miles to catch a bus or train to the university, and as a result they often experienced delays in getting there. When classes finished in the afternoon, the whole process of getting there was repeated again in reverse, and he often collapsed at night from exhaustion, she said.

Later on, he was offered a scholarship from the premier’s Young Nation Builders Programme. However, due to the fact that Ebanks was Caymanian and Japheth was American, they requested his birth certificate. “The premier emailed me a letter that government would pay for his educational and living expenses through his doctoral level,” said Ebanks. However, the application has yet to be approved, and they have also not been provided with the promised trip back to Washington to pick up their belongings, which they are now in danger of losing.

“It is unfortunate at this time that a way was provided and not sustained because of lack of follow-through and answers by the Cayman Islands Government,” she said.

Government also paid for motel accommodation that was six minutes away from the university and government officials even visited the university, met the owners of the motel, got billing information and amounts, and reassured them that they would cover the expenses. However, the accommodation was mouldy and this made Japheth so sick that he had to see his paediatrician.

“The paediatrician, who was gravely concerned about the motel causing the child to become sick, wrote the Cayman Islands Government to inform them that accommodations were desperately needing to be changed since our current placement was causing the child to become sick and be prevented from remaining in school, being so sick,” said the boy's mother.

Ebanks and her son had to eventually leave the motel with over US$5,000 still owing and were forced to live with Ebanks’ mother, who lived in a different city. She then accompanied her son once more on a two hour trip each way by public transport.

“The lack of these basic necessities of food, accommodation and school supplies caused him to suffer, as well as his grades, from a 4.0 GPA the first semester college classes in his first year to failing some of his classes at the completion of his second year last month, which has caused him to be placed on academic probation with the university and could possibly exit him from theuniversity if not rectified immediately”, said Ebanks

“I, as a Caymanian, am prayfully hoping that with the recent announcement that the Cayman Islands Government is seeking to increase the population, that they will now urgently re-visit this issue and grant my 15-year old son his Caymanian Status, so that he can continue to thrive, because he was on track to make history at Florida Atlantic University as being 17-years old with his Bachelors Degree,” said Ebanks.

“The delay of not getting paperwork done, as well as no answers being given to basic questions, is causing this amazing opportunity to be placed in jeopardy," she said.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I sense that the government realized that this was wrong.  The parents are from Kenya and the child is all-American.  That money should be spent on a Caymanian child.  This child has lived in the US all of his life but the parents expect to sponge off of Cayman.  Make Uncle Sam pony up the money. They have loads of scholarships.

  2. Someone woke up! says:

    It looks like someone woke up and realised that this child should not have been benefitting from the Cayman Islands Govt. 

    A genius like this child can apply for scholarships from all over.  So why didn't this kid apply from other avenues?  He could have done like the rest of the Caymanians and got a scholarship from Cayman and applied for other scholarships from other places.  Even the universities themselves have scholarships. 


    Something doesn't sound right and this kid should NOT get anymore govt money for university.

    How about working like everyone else did?   A genius would have firgured out other ways to make it through.


    So congratulations Cayman Islands govt for cutting these moochers off!  Now just get to cutting off everyone else that doesn't deserve it and maybe the govt wouldn't be in a financial mess.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just because your last name is Ebanks, doesn't make you Caymanian!

  4. Truth Police says:

    Well, guess this young man got the new alphabet lesson from the CIG.

    It started with an F-A-U…but since the government bowed out of their end of the bargain ("A" for 'As usual'), this kid's experience will likely end up as just one big F-U from government.  Par for the course…and sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      One more in a long line of unfulfilled promises to people outside the kool-aid ring. Now Mike, what is more noble than helping this young man? This is so sad.


      UDP are so quick to plan and arrange public meetings and press briefings but can't follow up on this man's education? Also, why didn't he qualify for a regular scholarship again?

      • Anonymous says:

        To 13:42, now why should Mike Adams help this young man, when he wasn't even born here, never went to school here, never lived here….why??? there are many young caymanians who live here, were born here and go to school here that need a scholarship to go away to school.  If this boy is a genius he doesn't need the CI Government to fund his way…..

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree with everything you have said, but the question that needs to be answered is why did Mike Adam contact the family and OFFER to help him?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm wondering where the boy got his smarts. It doesn't look like he got them from his mother. The story is bizarre and not credible.

  6. Anonnymous says:

    I agree that there is likely more to this story than meets the eye.  Apart from my personal opinion that a 13 year old, albeit he may be extraordinarily bright, is not mature enough for college/university life.  Also seems very funny that he was living in Washington (don't know if it was the state of Washington or Washington, D.C.) and was accepted at a Florida university!? There are many, many, colleges between (any of the two) Washington and Florida.  Also, since he is an American, there are many grants, and other financial assistance programs available in the USA, particularly for gifted children.  Gosh, seems he would've been able to get a full scholarsip!  Something is definitely wrong with this story. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Did the CNS reporter contact Mr. Adam and Mr. Bush to get their side of this story?


    CNS: He contacted the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender & Housing and the Young Nation Builders Programme. However, they declined to offer any information.

    • Anonymous says:

      This time I have to support the CI Government.  Why would the government agree on giving a scholarship to someone who wasn't born here, doesn't live here.  Even though his parents are Caymanian they moved away to the states.  Technically he can apply in the states for a scholarship if he is that gifted to start college at 13 years of age.  How can she think the CI Government should pay for his education.  Sorry I don't get it!!!

    • Y U T E says:

      Sad! Another young "Caymanian" will suffer because of the selfishness of our elected leaders. They can find money to travel all over the world first class; to pay a "professional" boxer; for churches; bodyguards; security systems; new cars; drivers; personal projects; Xmas lights; cook & housekeeper; friends; etc etc but they cannot find money to help with a youth's education. This is sad.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are obviously missing the fact he is NOT Caymanian. The last thing Government should be doing is paying for his education.

        • Y U T E says:

          The reason why he is Caymanian is because his mother cannot afford to "buy" Cayman status for him. It is sad that the UDP can give strangers, thieves, & people who did not even live on the island but they cannot give it to the child of a Caymanian. Is that something to be proud of?

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry this isn't another young Caymanian.  He pay have Caymanian parents BUT he wasn't born in Cayman, he was born in the States, went to school in the states and raised in the states.  What I would like to know is on on earth did he even get approved for a scholarship.  If this child is only 13 and a "genius" from his mother's statements any university in the US would give him scholarship justto say they have a 13 year old attending their school!!!! Something is very fishy here.  You can't blame the politicians for this one!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I was reading a separate article about this kid and its actually the grand parents who are Caymanian. The father is actually American

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks 9:05 – Let US educate this young man.  We got enough on our plates – I hope she stop expecting the blood out of stoon and get out andwork for him like the rest of us Caymanians are doing.

    • Marvel Ebanks says:

      This is indeed unfortunate for Government not to respond, because this "lack of information" is what we are seeking.  Apart from the repeated emails from them, Government has just been emailing that they are working on the contract, that they are processing his Status paperwork WHICH IS WHY THEY ARE HANGING ON TO OUR BIRTH CERTIFICATES AND NOT RETURNING THEM TO US, that this is taking longer because of the uniqueness of Japheth's situation, that this one is not in office so it will be forwarded on to this next one, but that now this next one is off island until such and such a time, and this everlasting circle keeps on going on for the past 2 years.  But if Status is the issue, if I had $250,000 I could buy his Status from Government.  Has there been any other Status grants that were approved by someone in authority for humanitarian or other reasons? 

      Unfortunately, emails I have received from Government and this (lack of) information that I copy and forward onto the university to update them on their questions of me of the status of Japheth's scholarship and why we are still in the position that we were in has everyone on campus shaking their heads in disbelief.  I have given Government everything they have requested.

      There is not one suggestion that has been recommended here on this forum or not one stone that I haven't already pursued, but this cascading error phenomenon needs someone in authority to make the decision no matter what it is, because where one relianceor mistake leads into another mistake, which leads into a third, it just gets really bad.

      It is even more disheartening because even with my limited and declining health, I have applied for every imagineable job that I can find here in Florida, but with the economy the way it is and millions of other people out of work as well, even a cleaning job has thousands of people lined up for it, including people that hold degrees!  A friend of mine the other day told me she couldn't believe what was coming across her desk, from attorneys and magistrates and the overqualifications on temporary jobs that companies are getting more selective over, so yes, I know it is bad everywhere.  Government also emailed that since I was Caymanian, they would look into hiring me on in their Miami office if I would be willing to do a one hour commute, to which I didn't hesitate and said ABSOLUTELY YES, and I even emailed my interest in signing up for a job a the recent Jobs Rally, but again, nothing and no contact.

      • Anonymous says:

        To Marvel, let me ask you a few questions .  1. Why  is it that the US not schooling your child? 

        2. Why are you living in the US when you are a Caymanian?

        3. What is your status in the US?

        4. Are you living  in the US illegally?

        5. Are you a cuban refregee who has migrated to the US after being granted caymanian status?

        When publishing your case on any media for assistance, we need to know these things.

      • Anonymous says:

        Marvel, could you kindly respond to some question I raised in my earlier comment ( Is Japheth indeed attending the FAU High School and is his tuition still fully covered as noted in the 2009 news reports? Could you confirm that it is only living expenses that are being sought from Government and what steps you have taken in approaching US social services? I read with sympathy your problems with a job search but I cannot help but still be concerned XXXXX

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would you have to buy status?

      • Anonymous says:

        I'm sorry, but, with all I've read on this subject,  I really don't think that this child's scholarship should come from the Cayman Islands Government.  US universities/colleges welcome gifted children and give them full scholarships.

        And now I read that it is not the parents who are Caymanian, but  the grandparents and that the father is an American? Something is not right – this child would have many avenues open to him in the United States.

  8. Like it is says:

    Would he not be better waiting until he is older and going to a decent college? I know lots of people who went to college very early – they all wished they had not done it.

    • Anonymous says:

      sad to think you have to judge this young man by the failures of all of your friends

      • Like It Is says:

        Who said they were failures?  I simply referred to their consistent negative experiences.  And since when has experience been so easily discounted?  Isn't the evidence from the story that the child is struggling in his classes now?

    • Anonymous says:

      FAU is a second-tier institution. If the student has such potential, why isn't he attending of the better  universities?

  9. Priorities says:

    Oh sorry Japheth, we have money in the budget for body guards, personal chefs, drivers, and  worldly tours. But no money for education. Please check back when we have a government that actually cares about it's people.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There are many opportunities for Americans to get scholarships in United States.  This story is funny.  Why doesn't the child have Caymanian status?  US Govt should pay for this child's education not Cayman.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Anyone else remember when this made the news two years ago in a large write-up by Cayman Net News based on information provided solely by Japheth's mother Marvel? Unfortunately their archives seem to be down but the article is indexed here:|-gifted-children-082009.php and this link is very similar to what was done by CNN (it lists CNN as the source): If I recall correctly, and I don't mean to spread misinformation here, but based on the circumstances it seems correct, Japheth is actually enrolled at the FAU High School (, which is a dual enrolment public school that gives high school and university credits and which is FREE except for a $500 activity fee and living expenses. Cayman 27 still has a story up here: and confirms that tuition is fully covered.

    When this story came out two years ago it did not sit well with me, and that feeling has not changed. Japheth seems a gifted student (though I must say the profile linked above is over the top in the gushing parental bragging department) and I do feel sorry for him that he cannot have a stress free experience of attending the FAU High School without worrying about mouldy hotel rooms, long commutes and where he might have to live next and where he will be getting food and clothing. His mother on the other hand… the begging continues. Before it was a personal plea for people to send her money for her son, now that government has stopped the flow of money she's hoping to shame them into continuing to throw money at her son (and I do feel the need to point out here that he is not a Caymanian and should have access to US social services) outside of any channels of accountability. For her, I can't feel much sympathy. If she is too ill to work there are disability and unemployment benefits in the US and other avenues to pursue for her son to be able to attend school and live a normal life.

    In my opinion the situation has been portrayed from Marvel's point of view from the very beginning and perhaps she shouldn't be given these media outlets to only give her side of the story. Maybe some more in-depth reporting was justified before draping up the Government. They surely do enough terrible things, but is this one of those things?

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is Cayman.  Your dealing with the Cayman Government.  Are you living under a rock?  Its what they do to everyone on island that cannot or will not vote for them.  Get used to it you devil worshiper.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am just curious how many more of these broken promises/commitments are out there. Lord help us !!!  Folks remember these are written commitments and whilst this one has no commited dollar figure, potentially there could be others that do note a dollar value.

    • Anonymous says:

      If both parents are Caymanians,then why is this boy considered to be American? Would he not be Caymanian?

      • Anonymous says:

        Simple answer. He was born in the USA and got all the rights of an American. If he was, for example, born in Jamaica of Caymanian parents it would not have mattered, he would have the same rights as any Jamaican to education. Just ask us the older ones who were born there. My son was born in the USA and he is an American all the way, never any different.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The first lesson in life… one owes you anything.

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. Anonymous says:

    Why does this mother expect our government to be in the business of financing  a furriner's education?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman was not good enough for this mother to have her child or to raise him here to the age he is SO  WHY should she think the Cayman Islands government should be responsible for his education

      LOTS of young people that are born here and stay here and go through our school system cannot get this help so WHY should he

      • Anonymous says:

        Amen.  why shouldn't he have to suffer through Cayman's school system?!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why did your government promise to help and then renege on the promise?


  17. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so was this contract the Premier spoke of ever signed?  What was this family's back up plan for this young man?  There has to be more to this story !!! Why has she waited this long to bring this to light ?

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is what really disgust me with this so called circus politictricks.  We have so much  negative comments to share about the young caymanian men but senceless issues like this is uncalled for.  The cayman Islands nation needs a wake up call when it comes to our children.  I left as a status-holder never to return because I don't want my children to fall into that hopeless promise that the Govenment never holds up thier side of the bargain. This young boy and his mother are being prevented from living out their dreams, they are wasting precious time being feed B/S when they know that they didn't have money for the long- haul of this boys education, Bush & Adams you should be ashamed of yourself's. MR. Adam & Bush you made d*m sure that your children got the best private education there was to offer. Like the Bible says.

    When a wicked man rules over a nation the people shall mourn!!!  



    • anonymous says:

      Yes Mike did and he had to sacrifice many long hours and missed family functtions to ensure his kids could get a good education, just like many other Caymanians. 

      Maybe you all should look into what Government has already done for this child and his mother, and consider the reasons they have stopped.  Maybe it's because they have failed to produce the proper paperwork, maybe the mother is using her son the finance her own lifestyle?  So much has already been done for this family, but she should also start doing something for her son!

      • Anonymous says:

        You seem to personally know Mike, but you apparently don't know the mother and the incredible work ethic that she has, this family was flown from Washington by Mike. 


        As a single mother, Marvel has given more than 110% in her work and raising her children in a Christian home alone than anyone I know.


        Instead of speculating on trying to figure out maybe they stopped because of this or maybe that, time has long since passed for Government to provide a decision to them at this very late stage.


        Japheth, you continue to hang in there, young man.  Your educators have said it all already with their confidence in your God given talents to recommend you the way they have.  Remember that pressurized coal is a diamond in the rough, so be strong and you will be back on your own terms, and you never know…with God on your side, your contacts in Washington and with the sky being the limit for you, these same people might be back knocking on YOUR door!  Our prayers are with you all.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is where the churches who received their nation building money should step in . Help this boy to keep him from losing such a valuable education .                                                   Another historical addition to a brilliant and exceptional Caymanian child. Someone who could become a role model to his peers. Hope for the future.! 

    • Common Sense says:

      Some of you people have some very questionable logic.

      Can anyone prove whether this child is Caymanian?  How do you feel about your tax dollars going to pay for educating children of Caymanians who live in other countries who have never been to the Cayman Islands and have no obligation or committment to do so?

      Read between the lines.  This story is one in which a promise was made, people thought about the reprecussions and they pulled back.  For once give the govt credit for undoing a major wrong.  

      Stop trying to paste together connections between different stories.  This family has cut their ties with Cayman but still want our money.  CRAZY!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Awesome! Here come another lawsuit!

  21. Anonymous says:

    You won't receive anything now after this 'bureaucratic harassment'!

  22. No Suh says:

    Before we start bashing the Premier and the government I have some points to make and I hope Marvel reads this.  Your son is 13 and is clearly gifted if he is eligible to enroll in University.  HOwever, you son is AMERICAN and in the absence of any evidence he plans to live and work in Cayman I don't see why he got local assistance when so many young RESIDENT students would benefit from this financial support for their education which would in turn benefit the Islands because they would live and work here.  You son could apply for any number of scholarships and grants and student loans in the States and while I suspect this was not available to him due to his age perhaps you need to do what the rest of us in Cayman have to do and that is work it out.  Enroll him in a closer school, wait until he is old enough to apply for grants or loans in the US.  Your son is set to make history that is a great thing but I cannot side with you for expecting the Cayman government to foot the bill when so many local resident studentsneed help too.  Mike shouldnt have given you this financing in the first place its a slap in the face to all the resident students who need to pay for A-level, whose parents need to buy supplies, uniforms etc etc.  You have far more opportunities in the States than there are here.  This stinks to high heaven but i cant only blame the Government, this woman is actually pleading for help.  You better not think of appealing to the public here for financial assistance because unlike you I havent been getting a free ride from MAC, you shoud have thought about that when you made a deal with the devil YOU screwed up your sons chances YOU fix it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats beyond the point. You caymanians will always be so close minded until someday you will get some sence.  You have so much to say about America but look around and snap back to reality if it wasn't for America you wouldn't exist stop hating! Thier was an agreement end of story!!!!!!!!!

      • No Suh says:

        Anonymous 15:41 – it looks like YOU would have benefitted from a secret education donation from the Premier as well.  If you know to capitalize "America", you should have capitalized "Caymanian".  The correct spelling is "sense" not "sence" and you used the wrong "their", it should be "there". 

        Aside from the glaring evidence that you area numpty, you need to get hooked on phonics.  BYE!!

  23. Recently Enlightened says:

    Another example of CIG saying one thing and doing another.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is Bizzarre.  Its more to this story  than what we know. The pieces to the puzzle is missing.

    Mr. Adam what's your story on this????  It will be amazing to hear.  A 13 year old to go to college and on to university, obtain his Masters at age `17 – a genius indeed!!!!!.  

    And I must say I find it rather unsual that he an american child  living in Washington was so well acknowledged and offered a schollarship by Cayman Government and our children here with their parents who are suffering the blunt of the two government's recession can't even get a local schollarship.  Anglin has constantly run down our children , forgetting that both him and his wife were educated here, by what we had to offer here, and this parent who has decided to leave cayman "I assume it better over there" are allowed to get a schollarship for her son, when UNCLE SAM takes care of his children.  XXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      what are you talking about? the scholarship restrictions are so slack. stupid people get them. i know because they're my friends. and they're stupid.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree on the scholarship restrictions.  Scholarships are being given to children from influential families that can afford to pay for their education, where there are children that come from families that just can't afford it.  Status holders (non Caymanians) are given scholarships over Caymanian children. 

  25. Pending says:


    Good one Mac and Mike! Way to go!

    Handing out 4.1 million to churches, lossing 450k with the Cohen deal….lord knows what else we are going to hear and be subjected too.

    I might remind you both that one of the main reasons for the unemployment problem here is due to a lack of education.

    Awesome to see you both have your priorities straight!

  26. James says: