Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Christmas comes early for blind couple - Expatriate gifts new roof to lovebirds

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2020 | 12:21 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer -
Jermaine McKay (right) and Garfield Campbell volunteered their time and skill to install a new roof on the house of Dwayne Walker and his wife, Staniece, in Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, on Wednesday. The couple’s heart-tugging story of love and their ord
Jermaine McKay (right) and Garfield Campbell volunteered their time and skill to install a new roof on the house of Dwayne Walker and his wife, Staniece, in Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, on Wednesday. The couple’s heart-tugging story of love and their ordeal under a leaky roof sparked admiration and offers of charity after a Gleaner video went viral.
Dwayne Walker (left), seen here beside his wife, Staniece, says the sound of hammering on his new roof was an early Christmas gift.
Dwayne Walker (left), seen here beside his wife, Staniece, says the sound of hammering on his new roof was an early Christmas gift.
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The love story of a blind St Catherine couple living under a leaky roof tugged at the heart-strings of a Jamaican expatriate who has given them an early Christmas present.

The cacophony of banging hammers was paradoxically music to the ears of Staniece Taylor-Walker and her husband, Dwayne Walker, of Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, who have had eyes on each other for more than 20 years.

Robert Salmon, the good Samaritan, said that he was compelled to action when he saw a Gleaner video that went viral.

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“When I saw the film, I said, ‘If I can stretch a hand, I stretch a hand.’ Mi jump on it right away,” the 66-year-old retiree and former member of the Third Battalion Jamaica Regiment said on Wednesday.

“It was an absolute necessity. I feel their pain. I’m a part of what they are living. It prompted me. The Lord blessed me,” added Salmon on a call from New Jersey.

Community volunteers Garfield Campbell and Jermaine McKay were seen atop the Walkers’ two-room dwelling on Wednesday nailing sheets of zinc.

“I am very pleased to be able to assist with the roofing of the house, as I know that it is needed. I live inside this yard, and the donation is very meaningful to all,” McKay told The Gleaner.

The recipients were overjoyed at the charitable gesture.

“I am glad that we will be able to sleep well tonight and not worry whenever there is rain. I remember the recent rains, and the amount of water that wet me was shocking,” said Taylor-Walker, 31. “The exposure we have received resulted in a solid roof, finally.”

Staniece shares six-year-old daughter Alia with Dwayne, with whom she has been friends since they attended the Salvation Army School for the Blind in the late 1990s. She became visually impaired when she was three years old.

“We have been blessed with this child, but it has been challenging,” said the unemployed mother, who has certification in office procedures and is computer literate.

Meanwhile, Walker said that he feels like it was an early gift of untold riches.

“Looking at life earlier this year, we were living by faith, but this is like a very great dream. Looking on now, hearing the sounds of the hammers, it’s like Christmas come early fi me and di family,’’ the 34-year-old said.

Walker, who lost his sight when he was months old, entertains commuters on buses to eke out wages. He has also dabbled in other small jobs such as selling bag juice in Spanish Town.

Salmon migrated to the United States in 1989 and said that his humble former life in the gritty community of Waterhouse, St Andrew, endeared him to the Walkers’ plight.

The expatriate has one Christmas charge for his better-off fellowmen.

“It’s encouraging to give to the less fortunate, and I implore all Jamaicans, home and abroad, to make things better for people who have fallen along the way, especially the disabled, the elderly, and children,” he said.

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