Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
GLENGOFFE, St Catherine:
DORRETT HUNT was traumatised for days after her first and only child, Joshua Bryan, was born at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston on October 24, 2006.
Hunt, who hails from Ennis district, in Glengoffe, St Catherine, said she couldn't have imagined that her son would have been born with vacterl association, a group of birth defects that occur together and affect many parts of the body.
"He was born with a hole in his heart, but that healed by itself. His right foot is severely disabled. Right now, he only has one kidney, and he has done three surgeries so far," explained Hunt.
But the 42-year-old single mother said overwhelming family support has helped her during her periods of depression.
"He was admitted in (Bustamante) Children's Hospital and I was really depressed, but I got a lot of family support. If it wasn't for that, I would have gone crazy," she shared with The Gleaner.
Following his release and as the months went by, Hunt didn't let Joshua out of her sight, and they became inseparable.
"Because of his disabilities, I never left him alone. I never send him to school until he was four. I taught him at home and when he went to school, he was able to write his name and other things," she said.
Now, Joshua has become her bundle of joy. In fact, the energetic boy is not daunted by his disabilities and has won the admiration of many, including Shayne Dillon-Gray, who taught him at Ebenezer Basic School.
"There was no challenge that was too hard for Josh when he was at Ebenezer. He did everything like a normal child. If you didn't know he has one leg, you couldn't tell because of how he behaved, and seeing him run, you couldn't believe it. If it was to lift a chair, if we were going outside, he would lift his chair. He was very independent," explained Dillon-Gray.
An avid sports fan at Ebenezer, Joshua was on his house's football team and would kick off the ball when they had a match. He also represented his house in relays and participated in other activities.
But his versatility wasn't limited to sporting activities as the affable youngster also entered the Mr Ebenezer Basic School contest.
The soon-to-be six year-old has already made an impression on Sabrine Mattis, his grade one teacher at Grateful Hill Primary School.
"Joshua is very intelligent. Based on the grade one individual learning profile, he has mastered most of the areas. His penmanship is excellent. He participates in class, answers questions when he is asked, and he can relate to basically anything and anyone," Mattis shared with The Gleaner.
So for all of this, Hunt is thankful and is beaming with pride.
"I am very proud of him in spite of his disability, and I love him very much. He is a wonderful little boy," Hunt said smiling.
Regardless, she finds it quite challenging to care for Joshua the way she wants to.
"He still wears diapers and it's hard sometimes to buy them. I have to take him to Bustamante Hospital often to do various tests. I don't pay for the tests, but sometimes it is difficult to find the bus fare. He will also have to do a surgery to remove the leg that is disabled, and I understand that the prosthesis is very expensive. So it will be hard for me to buy that," she explained.
Being unemployed has even compounded the challenges; however, Hunt strives for independence and rears chickens to generate an income, but her profits have been depleted and she would welcome some assistance to restock her coop.
"Because I had to be up and down with him, I spend out all the money and wasn't able to put back any chickens in the coop. So I would welcome any help to buy back some more chickens, or if I get some and some feed, or any assistance to make sure that Josh can continue to go to school because he loves school," she said.
An eloquent and polite Joshua is adamant that he wants to become a soldier and a pilot and make his mom proud.
"I want to become a soldier, but I don't know why," he said laughing, "but I want to become a pilot because I want to fly the plane," Joshua told The Gleaner.
PHOTOS BY KAREN SUDU