Beyond the Call of Beauty with Davina Bennett
English philosopher and author Francis Bacon once said: "The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express." Davina Bennett, who defied all odds in her pursuit of success, is a firm believer in this idea.
The last time we spoke to Bennett, she shared her big dreams of taking the high-fashion world by storm, and was well on her way to making that dream a reality. "I had put off school for a while, and had gone international to chase my dreams as a model. But, unfortunately, for the third time, I did not get signed," she told Outlook.
That disappointment was met with tragedy, as while away, she received the sad news of her grandmother's passing, which made the trip even more unbearable. Disillusioned, she returned home and settled into her studies for her marketing degree at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
Two months into her studies, the 21-year-old became very ill and was admitted to hospital. What she discovered soon after shook her to the very core. "After numerous tests, I was diagnosed with a ruptured ovarian cyst which caused excruciating pain and affected my eating habits. Surgery was my only option," she revealed.
Again, she had to defer her studies. "Now I am back in school and feeling healthier than ever," she told Outlook recently.
Overcoming her illness, she said, empowered her so much that she decided to celebrate by doing a photo shoot for her birthday, which was on March 5. However, on March 3, while on her way to the shoot, she had an experience that she will never forget. "I was on my way to Bull Bay with photographers and friends when I was held up at gunpoint, thrown to the ground and robbed of all my belongings - money, laptop, everything." She described the ordeal as the most traumatic and devastating experience she has ever had.
As a result, she became depressed. Stuck in a mental and emotional rut, she reflected on the happier moments of her life. This led her down a path of self-discovery which carried her full circle to her first love and true passion - modelling. "Throughout my life and experience as a model, I've gained a lot of knowledge that I would want to use to help other women who are aspiring to become models. With that in mind, I went on board with Sway Caribbean Model Agency to help train and groom future models for an international platform."
FOUNDATION FOR THE DEAF
She began working with a young model, Britney Barnes, who was deaf, and that gave birth to a foundation focused solely for the deaf. "I decided to name it The Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf, and I've made Britney the face of the foundation," she told Outlook. The foundation aims to transform how deaf persons are perceived and integrated into society.
She noted that persons who are deaf are often ostracised and labelled as handicaps who lack normal intelligence and cannot function independently. Consequently, the society sees these individuals as a burden, but The Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf believes in the equal rights of all citizens and wants to see persons who are deaf enjoy the same privileges as everyone else.
"Our overall objective is to change the general attitude of the public towards persons who are deaf and bring awareness to the society. The deaf community, and even their hearing counterparts, are very appreciative of the foundation. Our projects for this year will be to donate tablets and free Wi-Fi to a school for the deaf in Kingston, create a sign language app, and structure an inclusive 5K/1K walk/run, which includes persons who are deaf. I have now become a patron for the deaf community and a voice for the voiceless, overcoming adversities and making an impact."