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