News

Woman who gets around on her bottom appeals for wheelchair

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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IF you are a visitor to the town of Bog Walk in St Catherine, the sight of Vinnette Prince will leave you looking on in wonderment.

Prince, who does not know her age but appears to be in her 70s, is an upbeat and cheerful paraplegic who uses her hands and bottom to move around.

Last week Wednesday, the Jamaica Observer spotted the elderly woman making her way into the town from a taxi stand, by dragging her buttocks on the road beneath the punishing rays of the sun while using her hands, which were in a pair of tattered shoes, to support her upper body.

Prince, who lives alone in Troja, a nearby community, revealed that she is widowed with four children.

However, according to her, she has been abandoned by family members and is therefore forced to travel into the town, almost daily, to beg when she is not doing odd jobs such as cleaning people's homes.

“Only God knows [how mi manage]. Mi live near a church but dem nuh help. Only God help mi, that's why mi come out and mi hungry; from last night mi nuh eat, so that's why mi come out,” Prince said.

“A beg mi beg. Is a taxi give mi a ride and mi come up here, 'cause when mi come somebody can give me little food and mi can go home go cook or mi get a little money to buy things like chicken back, rice, flour, sugar, kerosene, matches, and soap,” she added.

The elderly woman said sometimes people will pay her $1,000 to clean floors and to sweep, but that this does not happen often enough.

“A good while mi nuh get none,” she said.

When asked about her disability, Prince told the Observer that due to poliomyelitis, she has never walked in her life. However, she was quick to point out that not being able to walk has never bothered her.

In fact, Prince shared that she has also travelled to Spanish Town, St Catherine and downtown Kingston, noting that she takes the bus and moves around on her bottom and that people are always kind to her.

She then pointed to a bag that hung from her neck, telling the Observer that a vendor had given it to her to put items in when she travelled.

“Mi just want money to buy some food and go home, 'cause mi have God with me and mi nuh give up. Mi always say mi prayer and go bed,” said Prince, who appeared to be quite popular and well loved in Bog Walk, as people stopped to greet her while she spoke to the Observer.

Besides food, the elderly woman said she would be grateful for a wheelchair.

“Mi did have one long ago but it mash up, so mi would like one more. It would a really mek mi life easier, mi nah tell no lie.

“It hard fi mi, and it hard fi get around when the sun hot on the road. It bun mi bottom and mi get sick, and it slow me up; yuh see how slow mi a come, me have pain in my hands dem,” she explained.

A woman who identified herself as a friend of Prince, but asked not to be named, said: “She is a nice lady weh have pickney — two sons and two daughters — but dem nuh take care of her. She did all have har husband, but him dead and so she on her own.”

According to the woman, it has been hard for Prince as she is left with no choice but to brave harsh elements, including rainfall.

“People assist her and I will give her a little money when I have it, and I always look out for her and help to cross the road, but a wheelchair would really be nice,” she added.


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