HELP US ... Blind, cancer-stricken elderly couple appeals for assistance
SEVENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD Linnetta Simms has been blind for more than 13 years as a result of glaucoma. She is also affected by hypertension, which has eventually led to her developing a heart condition.
Simms lives with her 83-year-old husband, who currently struggles with his own health conditions.
Jonathan Simms was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006, which further aggravates his already nagging arthritis pain, with which he has been trying to cope for longer than he can remember.
The treacherous trek to find the couple was rather challenging and was more than a mile's journey through a stone track lined with densely overgrown bushes that seemed to stifle trees that dared to flourish.
This elderly couple has been married for 45 years and has lived together in an unfinished shack, which they tried to build when they were much younger.
Mrs Simms said when Hurricane Gilbert affected Jamaica in 1988, it took off the roof of the unfinished three-bedroom house. "Mi used to raise animals and him burn coal and we try takka-takka it back after dat storm, but when Ivan came in 2004, it finish mash it up," she said.
The third room has no roof, and that is where Mrs Simms sets her containers to catch rainwater for domestic use. She uses this water for drinking, cooking, and washing. Yes! She does the washing, she says. Although she is blind, she knows her way around the yard and still carries out her daily domestic chores.
"All mi likkle table mash up. When rain fall, mi wet in yah," Mrs Simms said as she sat on the bed, pointing to the area in the roof from where it supposedly leaks when it rains. "Di room dem empty. Mi need a proper bed and a table and a chair. Even if mi get one Food For The Poor house, mi wi tek it. 'cause we old now and cyaa work fi build back nutn," she pleaded.
There is no electricity, and what seems to be the kitchen area is a rickety wooden structure attached to a section of the house with three stones, lots of ashes and wood for a fireside, as well as black pots and pans in which their meals are prepared.
The chikungunya epidemic late last year did not spare the elderly couple. Mrs Simms said her husband cried in agony for many days and she had to look after him. "Him feel pain night and day. Pure pain him feel, and memba him have cancer and arthritis."
Mr Simms said he feels a terrible pain whenever he passes urine and bleeds. Mrs Simms intervened, exclaiming that "sometimes him bawl how it burn him. Afta dat, di prostate wake up pan him, di two groin side swell, and it gi him wax and cannon," she said pointing to the areas. "Sometimes mi affi set up wid him a night di way him bawl fi pain. If you hear him groan, you sorry fi him. Di only time I don't hear my husband groan is when him a sleep."
Neighbour Jacqueline Edwards checks in on the couple and helps out regularly but says she is tired of seeing them living in these less-than-ideal conditions. "Mama and papa is sick and they need a convenient place to live. They don't have a bathroom or kitchen, and for two old people, this cannot continue much longer. They need help urgently. "Him have faith, you see! A dis ya man Jesus want inna Him Kingdom," she said, referring to his love for and his dedication to his wife.
The Simms are appealing for any assistance they can get towards bettering their living conditions.