Island Life - Living with Limb Difference in Barbados
We came across the case of Gregory Pollard - a fitysomething man living with a limb difference on the island of Barbados. His disabilities may or may not be caused by thalidomide. His story will appear in Rosemary Parkinson's forthcoming book Barbados Bu'n-Bu'n
While far more stringent tests are now taken before stamping approval on a pharmaceutical drug, I would hope that we as people have learned a very important lesson - research before swallowing with impunity. From Gregory's life I hope we learn another very valuable message - (a) a disability of any kind is not the person's fault however they received it, (b) disabled people can lead as normal a life as possible with the right attitude, not only within themselves, but most importantly, from society at large - the only requirement from the latter is respect as they go about their daily lives facing their problems with a strength that is extraordinary as Gregory and his story, told in his own words, proves:
As a child growing up, I loved gardening. I used to shy away from people, run and hide. Some people want to see me just to laugh. As a little boy a teacher at school said I had to drink milk. I vomited for 2½ days, the teacher get vex and tell me I had to leave St. Julian's. I still doan be good when someone tell me anyting I doan like - used to curse real bad when people call me names but, now I am a Christian, so dat is in my past.
My grandmother gave me two sheep, so at ten I leff school, became a farmer. I grew up to 100 lambs. I love to share with people, if I got the last I will give it up but now I pull up a bit 'cause some I know was using me. One man bought pigs, never paid, so you have to discern. I also had 20 pigs ups and down. My father raised pigs so, when he done with it, he give me de pens but when I got dat going real good, he wanted the pens back.
So I leff him and went by my Mum. Build my own pens but some tings come in my way I had was to do. Mum said I could not keep up, did not even let me try. So I went by my sister, she said I could stay with her, 'cause my brother also did not get along wid me. I prayed every night and day...Lord, when the time come let me be on my own.
I used to walk the street from here to Martin's Bay up to Church View, sold t-shirts and flower arrangements I made, vegetables, all since I was 16 years old. As I saved, I invested in my own house, put it on a piece of land, move in, start my ornamental garden. Got ducks for pets, two dogs - Sandy & Specky - some chickens, layers.
A friend o' mine tell me I does cook sweet. I like making soup, cook up macaroni with luncheon meat. My best dish is 'Pop Pork'. Piece o' leg, like a slice, put in a pot with ingreasements, all de seasonings you know...water half way up, turning it over. Add in some barbecue sauce and ketchup. Keep on boiling out de water. When it dry out and you hear Pop! Pop! Pop! it done 'cause dat is when it really want to burn out. Take it off, serve with rice and peas.
My mother live 'cross de road, I got to keep an eye on her 'cause she had a stroke. My sister helps too. My mother could have discarded me but she did not, so I am grateful.
When I was growing up my 'gran' wanted me to go an' beg but not me. I will not beg for anything. No one is to pity me. Don't care how poor you are, you can keep your head over the water - there's always something you can do. I still do crafts, framing, flower arranging with artificial flowers, even had a little shop but it get damage, now I got to save to repair it.
I attend Mount Ebel Pentecostal Church every Sunday. I help my good neighbours as much as I can, and just want to be fully happy. My total happiness would be to have a real nice wife.
And with this last sentence, Gregory blushes, smiles a broad smile and giggles a little to himself.
Tags: Barbados Thalidomide Article