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Paraplegic pleads for help to find a home

August 19th, 2018 | Tags:
Paraplegic pleads for help to find a home. Photo: T&T Guardian
T&T Guardian

It takes Stacy Ann Parris, a 39-year-old paraplegic, at least two to three minutes to make her way down a very short flight of stairs to open the front gate to the severely dilapidated, colonial- styled structure she has called home from birth.

At the corner of Roberts and Gatacre streets, Woodbrook, the Sunday Guardian is greeted with Parris’s wide and bright smile. A man in a delivery truck, apparently known to her, stops to say hello and to briefly “scope out d scene,” as we were strangers outside her gate.

He only leaves with the words from Parris: “I’m fine.”

She said it was the norm for her neighbours and those around to look out for her.

Once we entered the premises, Parris, who depends on crutches to walk, began to apologise for the condition of the house, which is extremely unfit for human dwelling, let alone a person with a disability.

Once inside we immediately notice a sink in the wooden floor, which is covered over by a worn out looking piece of linoleum.

Laundry

There is a dirty medium-sized mattress on the floor—situated left upon entrance. It’s covered in what looks like a pile of unwashed laundry.

Parris does not have a washing machine and even if she did, because of the electrical problem in the outdated shack, she cannot use any high voltage electrical appliance, as a fire can be easily sparked.

She struggles to wash with her hands—an almost impossible task.

She gets some ease at times from friends who would offer to do her laundry.

In her kitchen stands a makeshift wooden kitchen sink, an old refrigerator and stove, and a cluttered table bearing baking instruments from when she once baked bread for a living. She can no longer do so with financial constraints.

The most modern things in the room in which she sleeps are the Lasko standing fan and a variety of canned peas and beans lining a shelf protruding from the wall.

Her half brick, half wooden toilet and bath are situated outdoors to the back of the house, which poses a great challenge for Parris who has to climb down a flight of uneven stairs to get to them.

She said she has often soiled her clothing trying to get to the toilet.

The house has also been broken into twice with Parris inside.

A determined attitude

On a partially-broken down and littered space saver, two trophies are prominent, they are awards for Best Talent and Miss Photogenic, which Parris obtained in the country’s first staged differently- abled beauty pageant in 2012.

It’s not surprising though these accolades, as amid her struggle the former Bishop’s Centenary College student manages to continually smile and maintain a calm, cool, and collected disposition, not to mention her seemingly healthy appetite for life. Parris’s daily routine involves morning meditations followed by daily exercises and preparing for breakfast but not without a challenge.

Parris can only use the two front burners of her stove, as she is unable to reach the ones to the back.

She sits to prepare her meals as she said trying to stand makes her very tired quickly.

Prepping takes some time as multi-tasking is tough. But despite this, she does not let those challenges stop her from trying.

It’s this determined attitude that led to Parris living on her own.

After it was told to her mother, Ingrid Parris, that her daughter could not live without her, Parris took on the challenge and has been living alone ever since.

Asked why not live with her mother now, Parris said her mother also does not have her own home and is financially strapped.

She said she has never been a dependent person and never used her cerebral palsy related disability, sustained during a difficult birth, to dictate her dreams or even her mobility. But she does admit, there is only so much she could do.

Parris pays a rent of $200 per month but with no cash lately, she has missed payments amounting to $800.

Disability Grant

She survives monthly on a disability grant of $1,800 and a food grant of $410 from the Ministry of the Social Development and Family Service’s public assistance programme.

But lately, she has experienced a run-around with the latter, she claimed, after the Ministry incorrectly dated the food cheque, to which they have not yet rectified even after many complaints.

Parris said the money was divided in paying rent, electricity, buying toiletries, medical supplies, and food. The money, she said, is finished before the middle of each new month.

In the middle of the interview, radio personalities from a nearby radio station, who became aware of Parris’s dilemma, showed up with a box of groceries, which made her very happy.

Parris has written several letters to the HDC and pictures of the house were even taken into the housing institution but to no avail.

Spoken Word

“I got one interview on the second floor with someone and they told me I would be placed on the emergency list in 2016. It’s now 2018,” ‘Include us in decision making process’ It’s been ten years since Parris last worked. She job-hunted but gave up after never being hired for what she believes was as a result of her disability.

Parris, who is a spoken-word artist, has even performed for free hoping someone would see her and offer her a job.

“We are active people, we don’t sit home sulking and being sad because we are like this,” she says.

“Some of us cannot walk, some of us cannot even move, but we live our lives despite the situation.

I think it’s about time people take notice of what is happening to us.

The challenges are really disheartening.

The majority of us are disrespected and treated less than human.

Parris said differently-abled people aren’t really consulted in the planning and decision making process that involves them and it needs to stop.

Besides her long life dream to become a Paralympic competitive swimmer, Parris said for now all she wants is a house where she could recommence her baking and not worry about things falling on her head or the house collapsing on top of her.

To help Stacy Parris call 868-702-5684.

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