Sun | Dec 4, 2016

The death of a dream ... Marlon King

Published:Sunday | February 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

'Jamaica has lost an excellent craftsman' - JCPD

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

A stray bullet when he was just three or four years old restricted the movement of his body, but nothing could restrict the movement of the mind of Marlon King, until his life was snuffed out by the wheels of a Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus in a tragic accident last week.

King was introduced to Jamaica in a 2013 interview on the Television Jamaica programme, 'The Innovators'.

At that time, he revealed that while he was still a toddler he was in bed at home sleeping and woke up in the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the following morning, with a bullet lodged in his side.

This left him crippled and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. A life which ended last Thursday while travelling along Golden Avenue, close to the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Wanted independence

The then 39-year-old jewellery manufacturer had told the interview panel that he wanted to be independent, but it was a struggle for him to get around in a country not designed to facilitate the disabled.

"Sometimes, when I look at some of the things I want to do for myself rather than call on somebody for help, I would be a more independent, because it is all about independence," said King.

"Some of the struggles I face to sell jewellery, mobility is one of them; not being able to move around. When you look at the transportation system here in Jamaica, it is not as equipped as in other countries. It could be accessible where a wheelchair man could even just go and take any bus.

"A lot of times we face discrimination, but I mean life is not easy, because disabled persons in Jamaica have been stigmatised. When I go to other countries I don't see that, people always show you a different love from Jamaicans, and I wonder why? I want to fly, be free. I don't want to depend on anybody; I want to be independent."

King, who lived in Cheshire Village - a tiny community located in Mona for the physically challenged - was in tears during his appearance on the show, which seeks to transformation the lives of struggling entrepreneurs or professionals, as he lamented that there were not many persons in his corner.

"The only support that I do get is, like, from strangers," King had said. "The Good Book tells you that the time is going to come when even your family is going to forsake you. And when your family is going to turn their back on you it is really horrible. I don't know any family. I have my parents, yes, and I really respect them, and my father is there for me. But even you (interviewer) would be more family to me than they are."

King, who used to ply his wares on the university campuses and at Shopper's Fair, had dreams of his products being available in the "four corners of the world.

"I believe that once we create work we create employment, so I would love to see where we could build a factory where we could employ couple people well and say, 'Hey! This is what we build in Jamaica'."

And it appears he was making strides in the right direction, as when The Innovators had contacted him to see how his business was progressing, he declared: "It has been very great for me. I can sleep in my bed now, comfortable. I can wake up in the morning and have a very nice breakfast. I am making money, so I am proud; I am glad."

Promising entrepreneur

In the aftermath of his death, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security - through the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) noted that King was a vocal member of the community of persons with disabilities and one of its valued clients for many years.

"He will be missed for his business acumen and his fearlessness in speaking out on issues. A promising entrepreneur, Mr King was recently the recipient of an Economic Empowerment Grant and even embarked on entrepreneurial training in December 2014 to expand his business. Jamaica has lost an excellent craftsman," said the JCPD.

"The council has continually called for accessible roadways to ensure the mobility of persons with disabilities. The newly passed Disabilities Act (soon to take effect) will help to underscore the importance of accessibility and adequate facilities," added the JCPD.

According to the council, it is aware of plans by the National Works Agency to make Papine a disability-friendly space and it hopes that, with this tragedy, work will soon be undertaken.

"The council takes this opportunity to encourage members of the community of persons with disabilities to traverse the roadways with care. The JCPD also appeals to motorists to be mindful of all road users, especially persons with disabilities.

"The JCPD extends sincere condolences to the family of Mr Marlon King and the wider community of persons with disabilities, and trusts that this tragedy will be used as a tool for change."