THE burdens of double amputee Carlton Nelson became much lighter on Friday when he wheeled himself into a brand new home in the quiet, rural district of Padmore in St Andrew.
The 69-year-old man welcomed a furnished one-bedroom unit, equipped with a kitchen and bathroom, courtesy of Food For the Poor (FFP) in partnership with the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Nelson lost his first leg to infestation seven years ago after an object pierced his sole. The second leg followed three years later on account of an injury caused by his crutch, which would not heal as a result of diabetes and poor circulation.
At the time of the injury, the disabled man went to live with his niece Sonia Stewart in Red Hills, but later returned to his district where he had been living in a leaky, cramped, ramshackle, wooden house which he shared with his nephew.
On Friday, Nelson, who still manages to cook for himself and bathes on his own, watched eagerly, the unmistakable look of joy on his face, as workers from the two organisations constructed his new house.
"It really mek I feel good right now that I am going into something more comfortable," he said with broad smiles.
When asked how he copes, Nelson replied "it is really a rough challenge", and that he was being kept by the "grace of God".
The elderly man told the Jamaica Observer that although his family and friends in the community assist him at times, it was still difficult as he is unable to work to finance himself.
"It's really rough. If anybody bring anything come give me to eat, I take it and when none no deh, I do without," he said.
"But I give God thanks because my biggest problem was to get somewhere comfortable to live," he added.
Further to that, Nelson, who was once a very active labourer, said he was eternally grateful to FFP for providing the house and the volunteers from both companies who spent the entire day working to complete the structure.
Stewart, Nelson's niece, who along with her son and his friends started work on the foundation, said she and the family were also very grateful for the charity group's intervention.
Stewart told the Observer that it was Nelson's sister — her aunt — who had asked her church to request the home for her uncle. The protracted wait that ensued, however, had her doubting whether the house would ever become a reality.
All doubts ended when they got a call confirming its approval.
"We're very grateful for him," she said. "It is better to accommodate him and when him go in there he will have more space to turn around in the bathroom and kitchen and even the bedroom."
"Right now I don't have words to talk about how thankful I am 'cause even when we apply for it and we never did a hear anything I was saying 'Lord, look like we nah bada get it', but I was at work cleaning some crystals on top of a cupboard when I got the call... I cannot even explain how I felt," she said.
Meanwhile, FFP Housing Co-ordinator Loranzo Stanton said that when the request was brought to his attention he visited Nelson to confirm that the need existed and was moved to assist.
"Today we are delivering a standard single unit along with bathroom and kitchen. We try to separate them as he was doing everything in the same place where he was living," he said.
In addition, Stanton said Nelson will receive a bed, a night table, a chest-of- drawers, a sofa, a television set, and a new wheelchair.
"For this year we assisted 50 persons on average with homes islandwide, and so we have already built about 500 hundred homes; and the numbers will increase because of the memorandum of understanding that we have signed with the Government to build low-income houses," Stanton said.
For her part, Dorasan Williams, SDC community development officer for the area, said she became aware of Nelson's situation after the agency was approached by a community stakeholder, Padmore Church of God. Subsequent to doing her investigations, she got in touch with FFP and the rest, as they say, is history.
Williams noted that although SDC did not have a financial input in the project, the agency brought the different resources together such as light and water which have not yet been finalised.
"For now, we too are glad for the house that FFP decided to give as well as the small bathroom and kitchen because it's something that they don't normally do apart from putting in the house, so we really appreciate it as he really needed the help and we will be working with other stakeholders to assist him," Williams said.