If you’ve ever spotted a brown-skinned woman toting dreadlocks down to her ankles or wrapped up in a stylish turban near fishing ports in the South, chances are you’ve spotted Empress Dannie.
They say that inspiration comes in various forms, and today our inspiration comes in the form of her.
Originally from Augier, Dannie’s story is one of peaks and valleys. She worked alongside her husband until he died unexpectedly, ultimately leaving her with no financial support and six young children to tend to. From there she realised quickly that the opportunities were sparse, particularly for a Rastafarian woman, and she would have to find a way to support herself and her children.
Always believing in the principles of entrepreneurship, Dannie decided to go into a field she was all too familiar with — farming.
Waking up every morning by herself to tend to her farm, her little ones soon noticed their mother’s situation and the older children slowly started chipping in. This turned into a bonafide business — when farming became the primary source of income and every single family member was involved.
One of the things that impresses us with Dannie, is her way to spot new opportunities, and this came in the form of fishing. With savings from farming, she purchased a boat and started selling fish with her second son; in that way, her family of seven was able to gain income from both activities.
Things slowly began to pick up but something didn’t feel quite right. Every day she would see the number of troubled youth in the streets and she wanted to find a way to help them. In that regard, Dannie has “adopted” 40 children overall — 38 boys and 2 girls, fed and clothed them, as well as ensured that they received a proper education. She is currently raising 12 boys ranging from ages 6-10.
As she is quoted: “What has kept me going is taking a young boy or girl off the streets, feed him, clothe him and allow him a second chance to finish school and then later getting a phone call from abroad saying ‘Empress I love you’.”
As a testament to this, one of the boys she raised, Deve Barbour, was recently selected to be a part of the Virgin Islands national football team, and is preparing for an upcoming football season in the U.S.
Guided by the principles of the ‘Most High’, Dannie is an illustration that “the greatness of a person is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in their integrity and ability to affect those around him positively”.
– Keithlin Caroo, Helen’s Daughters
*This is the start of #HerStory series from Helen’s Daughters. Every month, #HerStory will feature women involved in agri or agri-tourism ventures. Helen’s Daughters is a St. Lucian non-profit with a special focus on rural women’s economic development through improved market access, adaptive agricultural techniques, and capacity-building. Helen’s daughters was formed in 2016 in a winning proposal for UN Women’s Empower Women Champions for Change Program.
To learn more about the initiative, you can visit:
Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/helensdaughters.slu/),
Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/helensdaughters.slu/)