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Inspirational story of Croydon mum who overcame child poverty and neglect


A CROYDON-based businesswoman who has overcome child poverty and neglect has released her autobiography in time for Black History Month.

Ava Brown, 38, had a tough time growing up in Jamaica, which she detailed in diaries over many years.

Ava's autobiography, Bamboo and Fern, was released earlier this month and tells her story of growing up in a poor area of Jamaica as one of nine children .

The mother-of-two moved to the UK 12 years ago, initially to work as a teacher, then as a business development manager, but now she is now proud to call herself an author.

"I think it's such an amazing time for my book to be out," said Ava.

"I'm in no way Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King but what I think is really profound and great about my book being out now is that it has got a message that tells people to continue."

Ava started to keep a diary from a young age because she felt that she couldn't talk about everything that had happened to her.

"It was a case of living in a society where kids are seen and not heard so I quickly learned never to open my mouth.

"But I felt like I could talk to my diary, I could tell it everything I wanted to, that I could ask it questions and it would not retaliate.

"As time passed I felt that other experiences also needed to be put down on paper so the diary ended up becoming a very big thing, containing all of my thoughts, experiences and disappointments."

As a child Ava would sell mangoes that she had picked from trees to help provide some money for her family.

As well as living in poverty, when she was young Ava was abused by her stepfather and as an adult she was robbed at gunpoint.

Ava said that being able to write about her experiences felt cathartic and she has found an inner strength.

"Looking back I see how persevering I was," said Ava.

"As I look back I understand. I think: that's why I'm so pushy, that's why I'm so resilient and that's why I don't take no for an answer."

Ava was determined to get an education and eventually she was able to receive funding which helped her train as a teacher.

She moved to the UK with her young daughter in 2002 at the encouragement of her aunt but Ava soon found that her Jamaican qualifications were not enough to allow her to continue teaching in this country.

Instead she found an online learning programme that would let her to study for an MBA remotely, allowing her to achieve a different dream of becoming a businesswoman.

She graduated from the University of Wales with an MBA this year.

Though Ava did not set out to become an author, she began to believe that she could use her story to inspire others.

"By the time I was an adult I had so many experiences that I thought could help other people and I thought that I would publish the diary one day."

Since she started to tell her story in public Ava has found that her openness about her past allows other people to come forward and speak about their own experiences.

"I would like people to read my book and see my struggles, but that's not what should resonate," said Ava.

"Life is difficult. Your problem may not be poverty, as mine was, it may be something else. It could be your religion, your parents, your academic abilities or your job.

Ava is now CEO of her own company Chakai Consultants Ltd and is already working on her second book.

Ava will perform readings from her book at Thornton Heath Library tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am - 11am and at Croydon Main Library from 2pm - 4pm. 

Inspirational story of Croydon mum who overcame child poverty and neglect

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