58-y-o deaf-mute lives in junk car in Arnett Gardens
Fifty-eight-year old deaf-mute Patrick Duncan lives in an abandoned car in a section of Arnett Gardens known as Mexico, a situation that residents are appealing for Jamaicans to open their hearts to and help change.
“I know this man for years. He has been suffering how long and him sleep in this old car here,” Errol George Saunders told The Gleaner. “Him in need of room and shelter. It nuh affi be mansion, but somewhere fi put him inna. He has been sleeping in this old car for years.”
Residents of the community have managed to learn a bit of sign language over time to communicate with Duncan and try to assist him by giving him odd jobs from time to time.
They are calling for the Government or Good Samaritans to step in to help improve his living conditions.
“From me know him, mi nuh see nothing good for him – just battering and sufferation,” Saunders said, adding that family squabbles might have caused Duncan to make the old car his home. “Before dem disrespect him, him prefer fi come sleep inna di car because when you go inna people house, dem disrespect you.”
Arthur Taylor, chairman of the Jamaica Combined Disabilities Association (JCDA), told The Gleaner that persons with disabilities often become sidelined by their own relatives who often see them as “fool-fool”.
Taylor, who became fully blind in his late teenage years, lamented that the attention and effort put into the overall development of an able-bodied person is not usually given to persons with disabilities in equal measure.
He expressed hope that there would be changes to the Disabilities Act to give the authorities more powers to hold family members accountable for the abandonment of disabled relatives.
Taylor recommended that persons in such situations contact the JCDA to at least have an established body lobby for their rights where necessary.
“Sometimes, disability comes with denial, rejection, and people just don’t want to be associated with you,” he told The Gleaner. “I was born with a disability. I was raised in west Kingston. I experienced both worlds, where I was treated well but still experienced the negative. If you are born a certain way or not behaving like them, they tend to say you are mad and leave you to roam on your own.”
Taylor said that persons with disabilities stand a greater chance of being neglected in inner-city communities.
“In the inner city, it is difficult. Benefits are scarce in terms of finances and everything. Therefore, the investment tends to go towards persons who would possibly learn easily and come out to be something in life,” he said. “It is a worldwide thing. It is not restricted to Jamaica, where the disabled person tends to get less. Even though society has been changing and more and more disabled persons have come to the fore with education, involvement in leadership and interaction with main stream society, but the change is very very slow.”
He added that his association would try to get some assistance for Duncan.