77-y-o worries about survival now that welfare benefit ceased
BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
THE loss of both his legs close to 20 years ago did not kill Lloyd Noicley's spirit.
But the 77-year-old, who was recently struck from the list of beneficiaries under Government's social welfare system, the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), now fears that the quality of life he has enjoyed and the independence he has cultivated over the years will soon be eroded.
Noicley, who has done everything for himself since his legs were amputated said he has been making ends meet with the $2,800 he receives as pension from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) each fortnight and the $3,000 from PATH every two months. He is now at a loss as to how he will manage without the latter.
"Is the first from mi foot cut off that mi fret so from me hear 'bout the PATH money because mi nuh know how mi going to manage," Noicley said as his eyes welled up with tears.
"Mi still weed mi yaad and all the roadside, wash mi clothes and throw them over the line and pin them and mi clean up mi banana walk miself, fork mi place, burn it, and plant mi banana," said the St Thomas resident, as he demonstrated his ability to undertake the chores.
"Ah just mek up me mind and ask God to help me because mi nuh have nutten more to live off," he said.
According to Noicley, he was looking forward to collecting the PATH benefit to purchase groceries this month and was devastated when the postmistress in his Rowlandsfield community informed him that no cheque had arrived for him.
"Right now if ah want ah drink mi haffi trust it from the shop because mi caan buy it," said the former cane cutter.
The senior citizen said he sometimes receives food from a neighbour, Canaan Jones, and from his church, but Noicley said he does not like to beg and had relished the independence which his own money gave him. To make matters worse, Noicley said he recently had to give up his plot of small cultivation as a relative needed the space to build a chicken coop.
And if that were not worrying enough, the senior said his wheelchair is falling apart.
"A lady mother died and she give me this chair and it is me who buy the paint and spray it miself, but mi need one with a soft seat because this one burn me bottom and it is hard to manoeuvre on the road when me going to church and so on," he said.
"I would really like a chair that can go about so mi can go to mi church because when mi have to use the wheel to push miself with mi hand all dog filth sometimes mess me up," he explained.
As for the reason his legs were amputated, Noicley explained that it was still a mystery to him.
"I woke up one morning and put on my water boot to go to the field and when mi come back mi feel mi big toe a burn mi and then shortly after one foot just start turn black," he said. Weeks later he received the devastating news from his doctor that his toe would have to be amputated. Weeks after losing the toe Noicley was back in the hospital removing his leg, and a year later he began experiencing similar symptoms which led to the removal of the other leg.
He was 60 at the time and had to learn to care for himself as he had no immediate family support.
After the frist amputation Noicley said he was up and about on crutches within three days. Since then, he has made every effort to remain positive and not worry about anything.
"I sometimes think about losing my legs, but if I was fretting you wouldn't come see mi here," he said with an infectious grin. "Me just feel happy same way and mi nuh bother fret up miself," he said.
Meanwhile, Noicley's cousin Lindel Parkes said he is still amazed at the senior citizen's independence.
"Everything him do fi himself, even weed the yaad and rake it up," Parkes said.
"Mi know nuff people without foot who sit down and fret and pass off, but not him," he added.
Neighbour Orville Hendricks also lauded Noicley for being so active despite his disability.
"He is such an active man that maybe him woulda all waan fi climb tree too because if him come and see mi ah do something him want to help," he said, adding that the senior citizen helps to maintain the grounds of the nearby community centre.
"Him all help to cut the playfield and rake it up all the time," Hendricks added.
Lloyd Noicley demonstrates how he weeds his yard despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Lloyd Noicley said the independence he has developed over the years since having lost his legs is now being threatened by the decision to remove him from the PATH programme.
Noicley gets ready to alight from his chair.
(PHOTOS: KARL MCLARTY)