King Bruce: paralysed but industrious
Confined to a wheelchair but not to his home
BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
HIS bright smile and larger than life personality could easily make one overlook the obvious: that Gauntlette Buchanan is in a wheelchair. Add to that his active church life and his electronics repair business and you might be tempted to forget his paralysis altogether.
The 52-year-old St Thomas resident gets around by whizzing up, down and around the hilly and winding terrain of his White Hall community on a mobility scooter, a gift from a friend who lives overseas.
"All sometimes me reach ah Morant Bay on this," Buchanan boasted to the Jamaica Observer North East, as he got ready to make a 10-minute trip from his house to a function which was being held in the community at the time.
"You go ahead and you will soon see me reach up there," he told the news team, and sure enough, he arrived in a 'jiffy'.
It is costly to maintain the scooter, given that some of its parts, such as the tyres, have to be sourced overseas, but Buchanan said life would not have been the same without it.
Prior to receiving it, Buchanan said he had to rely on friends and 'Good Samaritans' to take him around, which they did by pushing him in a contraption he had made, but it restricted how far he could go.
He explained that he was not born with the physical disability, but only became paralysed following an operation which went terribly wrong, causing him to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
But despite not having walked for most of his life, Buchanan, who is affectionately called King Bruce - a moniker coined from his pet name Brucey - is never idle as he spends his days repairing electronics such as cell phones and radios for a living.
"I first started fiddling with a Nokia phone and try a little thing with it until mi fix it and that is how mi start fixing phones for a living," he told the Observer North East.
When he is not fixing electronics or going around on his motorised scooter, Buchanan can be found worshipping at Soho Sanctified Church of God, where he has been a member for many years.
"I have been a Christian for the past 20 years and this is what has helped me to cope with my situation over the years," said Buchanan, smiling.
But he's not just an active member of the church; he's its lead musician, playing the guitar.
Buchanan said he had always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument and he got the opportunity when a friend, Lloyd Pinnock, decided to teach him.
"When my friend used to live here in St Thomas we always used to play music together at church," he reminisced.
Buchanan said it is his dream to be able to pursue music at the highest level.
"I want to take up the music deeply because that is my greatest love and that is what I always see myself doing," he told the Observer North East.
Unfortunately, Buchanan said he does not have the necessary resources to acquire musical instruments of his own or to get further training.
"But this is what I really, really want to do and that is the area that I would want help in," he said.
Buchanan has not fathered any children, but said he hardly ever gets the time to feel lonely as he has lots of friends both in White Hall and Soho, where he grew up.
"Some times I even go as far as Mona Rehab in Kingston to visit with people there," he said.