Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jamaican man finds a calling in wheelchair repair after his own disability

From The Gleaner in Jamaica:

Nearly 15 years after becoming disabled in a shooting incident, Patrick Rhoden (pictured) is still determined not to live under the cloud of invalidity.

Instead, he has set about repairing and even donating wheelchairs to other physically disabled persons and has continued to be an inspiration to many since being injured.

Rhoden's home in Gutters, St Catherine, is the centre of his labour of love. The wheelchair-maker said he sustained his disability when he was shot in his back on January 18, 1995.

Rhoden, who is paralysed from his waist down, said his will to survive has inspired him to channel his energy positively.

"When I started to fix the wheelchairs, it (business) was very slow. Then persons heard about it and now this is the result,'' the 39-year-old said, pointing to numerous wheelchairs under repair.

He told The Gleaner that his efforts have given hope to many persons who often feel like giving up because of physical disability. He has even counselled individuals who have expressed hopelessness, anger and fear.

"Persons who suffer disabilities will get weak sometimes and will feel like giving up. However, if they get support and know someone cares, it will give them hope.

"They can be productive individuals and that inspires me to continue preparing what makes them independently mobile,'' remarked Rhoden.

Rhoden even retrofitted his GMC truck to move his motorised wheelchair independently. Though he is subsisting from his talent, he thanks the charity Food For the Poor for helping him to source the parts as it would have been difficult without their assistance.

"Yes, he is a very hard worker and him even take photograph at functions," said Ceresse, a resident of Gutters who declined to disclose her surname. "That is why him able to manage so well. Jamaica needs more people like him.''