Andrene Lewis-Longwe has been declared Beacon Of The Year 2020, and will be awarded for being the person who best reflected The Beacon’s brand in stories published last year.
The Beacon is a big promoter of courage, perseverance, success and benevolence.
The full list of 15 winners for the year 2020 is as follows:
BEACON OF THE YEAR (Youth)
- Isaac Dunkley. His perfect record in 19 CXC subjects won him public support in pushing the University of the West Indies (Mona) to change its initial stance. The university initially rejected Dunkley’s application to study at its Faculty of Medical Sciences, citing a shortage of space. Dunkley scored a big win, and is now at the university pursuing his dream of becoming a medical doctor.
- Sadiqa Innerarity, a student of Jonathan Grant High School, has two children, but mustered the courage to face ridicule and attain a whopping 14 CXC subjects… and counting.
- Jermaine Black became a poster boy for agriculture in 2020. When The Beacon first featured him, he had just lost 10 goats to theft. In response to that story, philanthropist Dr. Rupert Green, in collaboration with Linval Taylor and his wife Menervah, donated just over $100,000 to the young farmer. Black used the donation wisely, purchasing pigs and a much-needed 800-gallon water tank for his farm. Despite the odds, the young farmer remains hard-working and purpose-driven.
BEACON OF THE YEAR (Community Service)
- Tanesha Hall was raped at age 15. She continues to face poverty and rejection, but still makes time to voluntarily care for her two bedridden neighbours in Clarendon.
- Kevin Morrison, a young nurse, voluntarily did a public education campaign about COVID-19 when society was pouring contempt on healthcare workers and people even suspected of having the virus. He, along with his colleague in St. Ann, also achieved Jamaica’s first full recovery from COVID-19.
- Pastor Dean Reid led the rescue of 15 residents from a flooded nursing home in his community of Ewarton, St. Catherine. He also relocated the victims to his church, where they spent weeks until the nursing home recovered from the flooding that was caused by Tropical Storm Zeta.
- Delrose Barnes was attacked and chopped four times with a machete while heading out of her district to feed street people in Linstead, St. Catherine. Despite that, she continues to volunteer especially through the Linstead Community Development Committee. She also became a practical nurse in 2020.
- Graciann Walker-Powell, who sold bag juice in the streets as a child, religiously feeds more than 200 needy people each week in the streets of St. Catherine. She founded a feeding programme and showed up for the homeless even at a time of widespread panic and fear resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Claudia Dozovado took a virtually homeless pregnant teen into her home, but the teen eventually ran away leaving her twin daughters at a school. Not daunted by the teen mom’s action, Dozovado went on to care for the two abandoned daughters who are now teenagers doing well in high school.
BEACON OF THE YEAR (Gallantry)
- Merissa Marshall, at four years old, was at home with her sleeping mother when she realized that her house was on fire on July 4 last year. She woke up her mother who, in turn, grabbed her and narrowly escaped the inferno without injury and without personal belongings.
- Dale Martin was driving his taxi when he saw a strange woman and her daughter, who were injured after their car crashed. He took them to Spanish Town Hospital and waited hours until they were treated and released. Martin also eventually transported the strangers to their home in the dead of night.
- Three young men displayed enormous courage when they tried to rescue a woman whose car plunged into the waters of the Rio Cobre on September 1, 2020. They are Delgado Smith, Dane Gray, and Romario Wright. Although the driver of the ill-fated car died, the selfless effort of the three men has not gone un-noticed.
BEACON OF THE YEAR (General)
Andrene Lewis-Longwe is a hard-working and sharp-witted businesswoman, patriot and philanthropist.
She is also a survivor of child sexual abuse, racism, abject poverty, and homelessness.
Andrene is originally from Christian Pen in Gregory Park, St. Catherine.
She recalled being sexually abused on numerous occasions when she was a child.
By age 16, she became a mother – a reality that intensified her troubles.
But she fought back.
Andrene enrolled at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, and later at Kingston High School, and at Stony Hill HEART Academy.
She eventually found employment at the Ministry of Labour here in Jamaica.
But her breakthrough really came in 2002 when she was almost 30 years old. That’s when she left Jamaica for England.
Andrene had a rocky start in a strange land with strange people.
She, at one point, ended up being homeless.
But she fought back.
One way of fighting back was to gain employment – juggling three jobs, including one at a cafe where she scrubbed pots and pans.
Andrene also recognized the importance of boosting her credentials. That’s why she amassed vocational qualifications up to Level 5.
She subsequently found meaningful employment with an agency that offers health and social care services.
When she eventually left that job, Andrene remained in the industry, starting her own company in 2009, when businesses were still reeling from the global economic recession.
Her company, named BREAK BARRIERS, went on to indeed break many barriers.
Today, it employs more than 80 people in the city of Nottingham. It also attained the highest of the three industry ranks in England.
That’s nothing short of excellence personified by a Jamaican native and a black woman, who recalled having to wage a battle against racism.
Andrene was not done yet.
She made another massive move in 2020 – a year when many businesses were closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She brought a branch of her company to Jamaica, naming it Break Barriers Caring Hands Jamaica Limited.
The company was launched in Kingston on December 10, 2020 during a ceremony attended by various people, including Government ministers.
Andrene’s type of business is virtually unheard of in Jamaica.
It is similar to a nursing home caring for senior citizens, differently-abled people, and others.
The big difference is that Andrene’s company cares for its clients in the comfort of those clients’ homes.
The sheer brilliance that Andrene displayed throughout 2020 spilled over into this year.
She, in January, moved into her company’s current home in Kingston.
She continues to provide employment opportunities for people, starting with residents of her native Gregory Park in St. Catherine.
While doing business, Andrene also makes time for philanthropy. For example, in November 2020, she donated a whopping $100,000 to gunshot victim Kevin Robinson.
From all indications, Andrene, who wedded Malawian native Nelson Longwe in 2010, is much more than a trailblazer and a rich source of inspiration and national pride. She is our BEACON OF THE YEAR 2020.
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