Blind and bedridden woman seeks help

Blind and bedrid­den, 62-year-old Salmat­tie Garib­s­ingh wish­es for the day when her home can be com­plet­ed so she would not get soaked on her bed when it rains.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia at her Freeport home on Mon­day, Garib­s­ingh said she has been blind for 21 years.

Her left leg was am­pu­tat­ed 13 years ago and her right leg was am­pu­tat­ed in 2016 due to com­pli­ca­tions from di­a­betes.

She lives with her hus­band Ma­hadeo Rag­bir, 58 and their 23-year-old son Mitchell, who they af­fec­tion­ate­ly call “Mitchie.”

Ma­hadeo has his own slew of health prob­lems, he suf­fers from an en­larged prostate and high blood pres­sure. His health wor­ries leave him un­able to work most days and when he does get odd jobs around the com­mu­ni­ty, he said he is paid be­tween $40 to $100.

Mitchell left pri­ma­ry school at age 10 when Garib­s­ingh’s left leg was am­pu­tat­ed. He has no for­mal ed­u­ca­tion or skills train­ing. Garib­s­ingh de­pends on Mitchell to care for her and give her the five types of med­ica­tion that she needs dai­ly.

“When they had on­ly cut off one foot, I could still use a stick and try to do my house­work and cook but now I can’t re­al­ly do any­thing for my­self, I have to de­pend on my son to car­ry to the toi­let, to car­ry me to bathe, to bring my food and med­ica­tion for me,” Garib­s­ingh said.

She has been try­ing to save some of the $1,800-dis­abil­i­ty-grant she re­ceives month­ly to­wards build­ing the house. How­ev­er, it has been slow go­ing for her as her med­ica­tion and gro­cery bills of­ten amount to more than $1,000 month­ly. She joined a sou-sou ear­li­er this year and was able to use the mon­ey she saved to be­gin con­struc­tion on the house.

So far, she has been able to pur­chase the red blocks and ce­ment need­ed to con­struct the house’s foun­da­tion and erect the walls of the house. But her mon­ey ran out be­fore she could buy ma­te­r­i­al for a new roof, plas­ter the walls or buy doors and win­dows.

When­ev­er it rains, the roof leaks and rain comes cas­cad­ing in­to the house from the back, where sev­er­al sheets of gal­vanise are miss­ing.

At nights, Ma­hadeo props old sheets of gal­vanise in the place of win­dows and doors to pre­vent any­one from com­ing in­to the house.

Garib­s­ingh said she is anx­ious­ly await­ing the $200 in­crease in her dis­abil­i­ty grant on Jan­u­ary 1, 2019 as promised by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert dur­ing his 2018/2019 bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion.

“I know it will be hard be­cause every­thing go­ing up in the gro­cery but I am still hap­py be­cause a lit­tle more is bet­ter than none,” she said.

The last wheel­chair Garib­s­ingh owned sits in a cor­ner of the un­fin­ished house.

“The wheel­chair can’t work again, so any­where I have to go, Mitchie has to car­ry me. If it wasn’t for my son, I don’t know what would hap­pen to me.”

She is hop­ing her fam­i­ly can qual­i­fy for a TT (food) card.

“If we could get a lit­tle help with the gro­ceries, I could try to make to save a lit­tle bit more to use to fix the house.”

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Cher­rie-Ann Crichlow-Cock­burn on Mon­day promised to have the min­istry’s staff con­tact the fam­i­ly and vis­it them.

Founder of the Glim­mer of Hope Foun­da­tion, Za­hir Ali, al­so promised to vis­it the fam­i­ly to try to help them. Any­one wish­ing to as­sist the fam­i­ly can con­tact them at 489-2294.

- by Sharlene Rampersad

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