Humble heroes honoured
Community activists awarded by Sagicor for selflessness
Camille Foster held back her tears as she walked to the platform to collect her award and that of her now-deceased husband, Garnet Foster.
The couple, who hail from Bullet Tree in Petersfield, Westmoreland, had opened their home last September to more than 25 children daily and provided them with Internet access for online classes.
As students attended their individual classes, the couple recognised that some were underperforming and they assisted them with reading and writing.
“My husband, who the kids called ‘principal’, is an accountant by profession, but since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he lost his job and has been forced to stay at home,” the housewife and mother of four had told THE STAR in a November 2020 interview.
When her husband was killed in July this year, classes came to an abrupt end.
“I could not continue with it. It was an emotional situation,” she said, as her eyes welled up with tears.
The couple was among 50 Jamaicans who received the inaugural Sagicor Community Heroes Award in a ceremony held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Tuesday.
“At first, I didn’t want to come because he’s not here and I thought about how I’d manage but then I said this is what Garnet would want me to do,” Foster said, thanking God for the honour.
Still eager to meet the academic needs of students, Foster told The Gleaner that she launched a foundation in her husband’s honour two weeks ago.
“It has been amazing so far. I have a lot of sponsors on board and our focus is to provide financial assistance to students who are in need,” she said.
Nineteen-year-old Tashwaine Davis was recognised for his advocacy in the area of drug abuse, a source of concern in his school and community.
“I’ve always seen organisations like the National Council on Drug Abuse coming in and speaking to young people but we’ve never seen young people talking to young people about these issues,” said Davis, founder of The Eradication of Drug Abuse Club.
On average, 10 persons attend the sessions, which are held once per month, and he facilitates talks with community members who approach him outside of that scheduled time.
He said many people are now living their lives free from addictions.
As a volunteer at his community centre in Spring Bank, Portland, Davis began providing computing lessons, as residents often visited to get letters or résumés typed but were not computer literate.
“I am elated to receive this award. The word hero means a lot and to know that it’s a part of the title is just mind-blowing,” Davis said with a wide smile.
President and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, said all awardees were deserving of the recognition and described them as “truly extraordinary Jamaicans”.
“You represent what is good about our beloved country and there is a lot of good in our country. You represent hope, resilience, courage and overall patriotism and that despite the many challenges we may face as a people, you are not deterred by difficulties, but instead you see opportunities,” Zacca said.
The award was launched last year as part of Sagicor’s 50th anniversary and was open to Jamaicans 10 years and older.
More than nominations were received, with some people tapped multiple times.