This is a sponsored article written by: Sharon Henriques, Regional Ambassador of North America & the Caribbean, One Love International
Are you about to abandon your dream? Well, don’t! There is hope. Discover what makes the difference between those who surrender and those who cross the finish line.
Former head boy of Kingston College, Krishna Brown, born and bred in Greenwich Farm with five siblings, has always had stars in his eyes since his youth. At age 13, his Christian faith revolutionised his mindset, vision and future and soon discovered he was created and destined for global impact.
In January 2001, Brown relocated to Madrid, Spain after securing an academic scholarship on his second attempt for postgraduate studies in Spanish Philology courtesy of the Spanish Government.
His dream finally became a reality despite enduring many hardships and tragedies while growing up such as being a victim of bullying, physical assaults, coupled with the limitations of delicate health issues like chronic asthma and the untimely death of his beloved mother, Naomi Brown, to cancer when he was a teenager.
Brown has always endeavoured to live with the vision of an eagle, thus creating history on the European continent at the academic, artistic and cultural levels.
For example, in recognition of his artistic and linguistic contribution to Spain, he was chosen among 70 distinguished individuals by the Ministry of Tourism and Immigration in 2009 for the publication “Nuevos Rostros de Madrid” – New Faces of Madrid.
However, at the onset of seemingly ‘midlife crisis’ in 2019, Brown expressed having three heart-wrenching regrets and unrealised dreams at the time.
“I felt saddened and disappointed that I hadn’t yet travelled to and helped people in all the European countries, Australia and New Zealand. Also, for not having finished my doctoral studies and, finally, not having published my first book,” he said.
Albeit being an unrelenting dream chaser, there were those that eluded his grasp, but his attitude of a lion should prevail.
Travel & Humanitarian Dream
Brown was determined to accomplish his travel ambition. He used what he calls “the coffee principle” to help fund his trips. Brown explains: “In Spain, most Spaniards spend about one euro for a coffee daily. I choose to save that amount for my yearly travel budget.”
In August 2019, he decided to finally venture to Australia and New Zealand. In spite of insufficient funds saved in his coffee pot over seven years, he took out a loan from the bank to help offset travel costs. “It was now or never, so I just did it,” he exclaimed.
Notwithstanding, Brown had to face his Goliath of acrophobia and claustrophobia to fly over 70,000 kilometres on his Asian and Oceanian missions. Not only did he survive, but he apparently thrived.
Shortly after his feat, he started planning his last European quest to Russia, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. Not as easy as it sounds, as his visa applications were initially rejected by the latter two countries.
“It was a tardy, costly and stressful process. I almost gave up, but I didn’t,” he emphasized.
Curiously, having Spanish citizenship would have eliminated visa issues over the years, but Brown refuses to relinquish his Jamaican citizenship, given his patriotic love. His attitude is indeed remarkable and rare.
On January 2, 2020, at the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown landed in Kyiv, Ukraine, finally fulfilling his dream of visiting all the European countries and a total of 97 countries on six continents.
Under Brown’s leadership, his Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) – One Love International (OLI), since its inception in 2013 to date, has positively impacted the lives of more than 12,500 individuals in 249 cities/towns in 81 countries on six continents.
Yoelvis Romero Pérez, OLI Board member, articulates: “Krishna Brown is the best Jamaican cultural ambassador. His mission to help and empower others globally is inspiring. His leadership is impressive, his altruism boundless. During hard times, he never gives up, he just keeps going.”
Little did Brown know that, after such exploits, he would be gasping for air from impending tidal waves around the corner.
Rebirth Of An Academic Dream
In 2003, Brown started a PhD programme in Geography at a university in Madrid, but had to abandon his dream half-way due to limited funding for his research project about Sustainable Tourism in Jamaica.
He wanted to expand and update his pioneering undergraduate research thesis, which was published in a book called “Tourism in the Caribbean” in 2000. Unfortunately, all attempts at securing funds failed.
Nevertheless, in September 2007 after visiting Jamaica, Brown registered for a Doctorate of Ministry in leadership at an academic institution in the USA, via distance learning. Surprisingly, more than a decade expired and not much progress was made.
What was robbing his focus over time?
“Life happens! My priorities shifted from my own goals. I felt it was incumbent on me to invest more time, effort and resources in teaching, coaching, mentoring and helping others to achieve their first important dream or goal like getting a first degree, a scholarship or a job,” reasoned Brown. “But sincerely, let’s call a spade a spade; I was downright indolent as I could have managed my time more efficiently.”
But a turning point was on the horizon.
On August 31, 2020 sudden catastrophe struck the Brown family. His dad, Aston Brown, suffered a heart attack during dialysis just the day after his 73rd birthday in Jacksonville, Florida and was in a coma for a week before being pronounced dead.
Brown was devastated since he was not able to be by his father’s side due to the imposition of COVID-19 international flight restrictions.
Brown describes his dad with profound love, admiration and respect. “My father has been my best friend, travel companion and role model. He was a true gentleman possessing PhDs in integrity, generosity and humility in the school of life,” he said in a teary nostalgic tone.
Subsequently, Brown remembered promising his dad – former Global Ambassador of OLI – that he would finish his doctorate in the near future. It seemed opportune for the rebirth of a dream.
“I knew I had to restart and finish my doctorate for three reasons – as the stakes were high. First, I had to keep my promise to my dad and I wanted to honour him. Second, I knew I needed to finish something I had already started to have credibility, and finally I wanted to complete it for my own personal and professional academic realization,” he revealed.
Given his academic proclivity and prowess, Brown often felt disheartened and guilty about procrastinating and not completing his doctorate. Regardless, his determination testifies that, with a combination of baby steps and bigger ones, anyone can achieve their goals.
“At first I started studying for an hour, then two, then three until I reached peak form of 15 hours daily. I got easily distracted at times but forced myself to refocus until I finally accomplished my goal,” he said. Hence, he now smiles bigger and brighter.
“We can learn a lot from toddlers. I’ve never seen one while learning to walk, falls and stays down permanently. They always get up and try again until they walk proficiently,” he added.
Brown was not out of the woods during the toiling process. He unexpectedly lost his longest lasting jobs as a TEFL instructor at two universities in October and November. Thus, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Consequently, he spiralled into intense grief induced depression and therefore sought professional help.
Brown is highly respected and admired by his colleagues at university and he has registered perfect attendance even when sick over eight years.
Ms. Asenet Martin, TEFL instructor, states: “Krishna is the teacher everyone needs. Enthusiastic, versatile, committed to his students… and a pleasure to work with! I constantly receive positive comments from Krishna’s former students.”
His students hold him in high esteem and value his dynamic teaching style, unwavering professionalism, and charismatic Jamaican personality.
Dr. Juan Diego Paredes, Economics Lecturer, is truly thankful to his coach. He declares: “I’ve learned so much from Krishna as he’s a polyvalent teacher with an impeccable track record of student success. His methodology is innovative, dynamic, and student-centered. Besides, he instills confidence in his students, and empowers us to inculcate positive learning habits so we can learn more, better and faster. Spain is so lucky to have Krishna!”
Not only did it rain at the beginning of 2021, but it also poured throughout the year.
In January, Brown suddenly lost his close paternal uncle living in Florida, USA to Covid-19. In February, his paternal grand aunt in Jamaica gave up the ghost too.
Despite many setbacks, Brown soldiered on until successful completion of his doctorate with distinction after 13 years.
He certainly exemplifies his alma mater’s motto: “Fortis, cadere cedere non potest” – the brave may fall but never yield.
Furthermore, Brown lost 70 per cent mobility in his shoulders over an eight-month period. He also fell victim to Covid-19 while cheering on his fellow Jamaicans from afar during the summer Olympics and recovered only after a month. Shortly after, 60 per cent of his lush black hair fell out. After all, his eyes continue to sparkle with optimism and zeal.
Chasing Future Dreams
Brown is on track to fulfill yet another dream before his birthday in June, completing a Master’s degree in Psychology, thus making it his eighth Master’s and becoming one of the most decorated Jamaicans, academically speaking; with over twenty postgraduate degrees and diplomas accrued over 25 years of blood, sweat and tears.
Additionally, he continues to passionately spearhead OLI’s International Team to positively impact the lives of thousands of individuals and he would love to visit 25 new countries in the next 5 years to enlarge the mission and impact of his NGO – giving hope, sharing love, inspiring growth.
Brown expresses sincere gratitude to his family, friends and church Amistad Cristiana, for their love and support, without whom he wouldn’t have safely navigated the stormy seas of life.
Suzette Lawther, former caregiver of their dad in Florida states: “My loving brother Krishna has always been an inspiration with his Christ-like attitude and actions. He has endured many hardships and has persevered through prayers, will, determination and the support his family, friends and church. We are so proud of him, especially seeing him finally complete his doctorate, surely our dad, Aston Brown looks from Heaven cheering. Krishna is always working towards helping and giving hope to the less fortunate through his NGO One Love International.”
Although Brown purposefully practices a healthy lifestyle (proper sleep, nutrition and exercise) he still struggles daily with physical challenges and limitations such as plantar fasciitis, allergy issues, deteriorating eyesight and groin pains. But, he elects not to be overcome by discomfort and discouragement.
“No pain, no gain…just keep pushing forward, success is imminent for the intrepid spirit,” he said in a jovial tone.
Brown highlights that his life foundation is built on the teachings of Jesus Christ, his Saviour, King and Lord. Therefore, his devotion to God and service to humanity remain his raison d’être.
Brown’s advice to others: “Never give up on yourself and others and especially not on your dreams! You are never too old and it’s never too late to start chasing your dreams. Put God first and believe that you can do it – make a plan, get support, and take that first baby step till the last. You will be happy you did.”
Finally, he is currently drafting his first book about life lessons which he would earnestly like to publish by the end of 2022. However, he struggles with his bête noire of procrastination daily. Unquestionably, he will succeed as he’s Krishna Brown, the incarnation of sheer resilience and tenacity.
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