Rural Express: Juice vendor returns to the street
Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
Buff Bay, Portland:With his livelihood under serious threat, following a motor vehicle accident which left him paralysed from the waist down for nearly four years, juice vendor Hopeton Duncan has miraculously recovered and is now back on the streets of Buff Bay doing what he does best.
Duncan, who was hit from behind by a car while riding a bicycle in 2009 - and his almost lifeless body rushed to Annotto Bay hospital before being airlifted to Kingston Public Hospital in a state of unconsciousness - was basically written off by doctors and residents.
He would spend approximately six months in hospital, where doctors gave him the painful news that it was very unlikely that he would walk again and that he could also lose his right arm - should his body fail to respond to treatment provided through therapy.
And while lying on his bed at home, Duncan said he made some reflections on his life, recounting that he had left the remote district of Chepstowe in the Buff Bay Valley at the age of 15 to reside in Buff Bay, in search of work and a better opportunity.
According to Duncan, with tears flowing down his cheeks, at first, life wasn't all that easy and success took a long time in coming, as he was forced to spend seven years begging on the streets - a lifestyle that is quite popular among unemployed teenage males in that town.
"I was not comfortable with that kind of lifestyle", commented Duncan.
He added: "A group of us would take to the streets everyday begging for our meals and sometimes we would assist bus operators in getting passengers aboard. But I wanted something more rewarding and productive, and shortly after, I started making fruit juices. I was shocked at the response from residents, who supported me at the out-set, which also triggered me into starting a small fruit and vegetable farm."
The 38-year-old fruit-juice vendor boasted that his livelihood was at its peak and his earnings, back then, could easily take care of family members, including his ailing sister, a common-law wife, a child, and a father - while making monthly bill payments.
His road to success was, however, halted by the near-tragic accident which basically shattered his dream.
The accident was a hard pill to swallow and Duncan also recounted that there were many nights that he laid in bed and cried, while praying to God for healing, but admitting that he, too, had doubts of recovering.
The juice vendor continued, "God intervened, and today I am alive and well. In 2012, I made a grand return to the street, and my juices, including soursop, carrot, plum, mango, orange, cherry, and peanut, continue to quench the thirst of students, teachers, tourists, the police, and other civil servants. I am now considering getting a vehicle to replace this trolley as business is booming. I have since drawn closer to the Almighty. Only He could have performed such a miracle."