Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Disabled man gets help from Portmore Municipal Council

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Forty-one-year-old Robert Campbell had doubts as to whether he would ever get the help he needed to carry on his business of buying and selling bag juices and other pre-packaged snacks to support his wife and six children.

"Mi a di bread winner; mi haffi send four girls to school, dem depend on me," Campbell told Rural Xpress.

A former football player, Campbell has been confined to a wheelchair since 2003 after being shot 13 times in his lower body while playing for major league team Olympic Gardens against rival Waterhouse. One of the bullets clipped his spine and lodged in his chest, paralysing him from the waist down. He recounted how he scored a goal for his team, a situation that triggered a disturbance in which gunshots were fired. He said he was hit 13 times and was rushed to the Kingston Public Hospital, where he spent about two months undergoing treatment.

"Mi have mi car before mi get shot up, so mi have to fin' a way to drive mi self to sell the things to mek a living," he revealed. According to the physically-challenged man, he found a way by using a piece of stick to reach the controls of the car and, with constant practice, was able to develop a method to drive himself around to sell his goods. He was, however, faced with a major problem - that of the expiration of the licence on his car, and he did not have the money to rectify the problem. His determination to care for his family forced him to drive the car around without the proper documents. This resulted in the police confiscating the vehicle on many occasions.

made good on his promise

Defying the law was becoming problematic for Campbell, so he decided to seek help from the Portmore Municipal Council. First, he contacted Councillor Oral Gunning of the Gregory Park division to intervene on his behalf. He said he had doubts as to whether he would receive the assistance he sought, but nevertheless, he went to the municipal building to see the mayor, personally, and was assured by him that help was on the way.

Acting Mayor Leon Thomas made good on his promise by recently presenting Campbell with a wheelchair and a cheque for $21,000 to license his car. The presentation took place at the Portmore Branch of the National Commercial Bank. Branch Manager Karen Young, who took part in the presentation, opened an account for Campbell and offered help, which, she said, will be forthcoming as soon as she had discussions with the bank's operations manager.

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor Thomas told Rural Xpress that he was impressed by Campbell's persistency and was moved with compassion."He came to the office after Councillor Gunning informed me about his condition. I certainly did not like the idea of a disabled person taken here because the building is not disabled-friendly," Thomas disclosed, adding that he is prepared to visit the shomes of persons with diability instead of them visiting the council's building, He revealed that he has referred Campbell 's case to other agencies for him to get much-needed assistance. He said he will also be in constant contact with the children to determine their progress in school.

rural@gleanerjm.com