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Rose Hill, Manchester:
Young, free, and feral on a field playing cricket and enjoying youthful exuberance was the former reality for the now slightly immobile 67-year-old Gladsford Anderson, who has been stuck in a wheelchair for several years.
Anderson, who was born with a slight bone deformation of the legs, was never really hampered by this malady in his former years. Rather, he went to school and later worked like any normal person at carving out a better life for himself.
"I went to the Rose Hill Primary School and I did very well. I passed all 13 subjects that you were required to do in the Jamaica Local Experience Examination. I got first, second, and third awards, too," said Anderson
After struggling for a while, Anderson decided to do private courses with the British School of Careers.
"After completing my courses, I signed up with the Southern Employment Programme, and through them, I got a job as a PAYE and NIS returns clerk periodically. When I first went there, I was a time keeper, but when they saw my competence, I was moved up into the office, and I worked there for four years," said an eloquent Anderson.
The ever-persistent Anderson later moved on to working with a dairy industry at the Prospect Milk Farm but would soon find that the problem from birth would hinder his progress.
"I did hard work on the farm. I worked in all areas, from milking to sealing to delivering. I was also in charge of bookwork, where I had to weigh cows and ensure the quality of their well-being. It was challenging, but I had to deal with it.
"I worked hard for four years at the farm, and after a hard day's work, I would feel pains in my joints, but I wouldn't follow it up as I couldn't really maintain clinical follow-ups," Anderson told Rural Xpress.
"One day, when I was by the community centre and I slipped and fell, the pain ran through my body and I couldn't move. I was helped up and brought to the hospital, I had a rough time there."
An X-ray done to assess the extent of Anderson's damaged leg had doctors somewhat appalled and hesitant. He was then sent to the University Hospital of the West Indies where head of the Orthopaedics Department, Dr John Golding, told him his condition was as a result of a vitamin D deficiency, which caused what was termed pathological fractures.
"I did a surgery and had seven inches of nail placed in my thigh. I lived with it and used crutches to move around."
Anderson, who at times shakes uncontrollably due to a nerve problem, found farming, a means of survival and had no alternative but to continue. He worked his ground on his crutches, and as a result, the crutches became worn out.
"I was at a nearby shop one day sitting on a stool. When I came off, I got on my crutch, because the point had worn down, it slipped and I fell. I heard and felt the bones literally shattering. A friend who helps me out even 'til today took me to the hospital and I had another 14 inches of nail placed in my thigh."
He continued: "My current wheelchair is falling apart. The wheels are done and the part that should be elevated is touching the ground. I have to be using other old wheelchair parts from an auto shop nearby to weld on to this one. I have welded this chair twice already."
With no real means of receiving an income but the small NIS stipend, Anderson, who continues to farm sections of his land even at the hands of thieves, is in dire need of a wheelchair and other assistance.
"I plant my thyme, scallion, tomatoes, sweet pepper, and even used to burn coal, and so, but because I'm not so mobile with this chair, I'm having a great setback. My house is in need of repairs. I really want to finish up my house that was severely damaged in a storm and live comfortably, but I need help.
"I got a wheelchair the other day, but it doesn't work because it needs two batteries which cost about $40,000. So if I get help with a new chair or the batteries for this one, I would be grateful because I could continue me little gardening and try finish me house and buy me necessities."
- T. B.
Photos by Tamara Bailey