Jamaica, Land We Love: Lavern Deer

by Howard Campbell

[SOUTH FLORIDA] – As founder and president of Female Development World Organization, Lavern Deer tirelessly monitors human trafficking and child sexual abuse in the Southern Diaspora states as well as her native Jamaica.

According to Deer, “My position focuses on process improvement and problem solving.” Her line of work seems only natural given a childhood of challenges in Jamaica.

Deer overcame the rigors of teen motherhood to become a respected achiever. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Healthcare and Masters in Business. All while making her name as a community beacon in Broward County.

Lavern Deer

But it was not all roses for Lavern Grant (her birth name) who was born in Jones Town, a gritty working-class neighborhood in west Kingston. Her uncle was Bunny Grant, a boxer who won the British Commonwealth Lightweight title on August 4, 1962, two days before Jamaica gained independence from Britain.

Lavern Deer (R) and her sister Jennifer

“I am from very humble beginnings. My mom was residing at 8 Jellico Street, Jones Town when I was born according to my birth certificate. I remember the last place I resided prior to migrating from Jamaica was 30 Studly Park Road across from the Ministry of Health (in Kingston),” Deer recalled. “I attended Chetolah Park (Primary School), Ms. Lumsdell was my principal. I used to love sports day, the egg and spoon race was my favorite. While living on Studley Park Road, the person who lived in the front of the yard owned a bar and was always playing music,” she added. “I remember the joy of listening to my Dad and his friends talk about my uncle Bunny Grant, the boxer. I didn’t understand much of the conversation but I remember it consisted of a lot of shouting and laughter.”

Deer and her older sister Jennifer adapted to a different scenery when her mother began to travel abroad. They were sent to live with their maternal grandmother in rural Ipswich district, St. Elizabeth parish. It is about 100 miles south of Kingston.

Because of its fertile farmland, St. Elizabeth is considered Jamaica’s bread basket. Deer and her sibling learned to adapt to, and appreciate, the laid-back atmosphere of country life.

“I spent a few good years rolling in the red dirt and walking through the mango and pine fields. My favorite childhood years was the times spent in those hills; I learned how to pray and worship, there was something special about those hills, when the breeze blows it sounds like angels whispering,” she said.

“Also, during the summers, my mom would take us on the train to visit my grandmother. Oh man…my grandmother would bake these sweet treats, in banana leaves, her pudding was warm and mouthwatering, not to mention her rice and peas. The family would gather on the grassy field while the children ate, run up and down, sometimes swimming in the soft grass (would pay later during bath time) played and laughed non-stop.”

The Grants moved to Nassau, in The Bahamas when Lavern was nine years-old. Two years later, they migrated to Miami where she has lived ever since.

“I currently work for Broward County Government. I live in the beautiful city of Miami Gardens where I am now the primary caregiver for my mother. I love music, R&B, rap, country, reggae and gospel. I am very Intune with my spirituality and make time to meditate daily,” said Deer.

Lavern Deer with her Proclamation from the City of North Miami Beach
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