For almost 10 years, Patrick Duncan lived in a rat-infested rusty shell of a motor car on 8th Street in the section of Arnett Gardens that residents call Mexico.
For all that time people living in the gritty community were not happy with the conditions under which Duncan, a deaf-mute, lived. But their own economic circumstances did not allow them to give the 59-year-old the kind of help he desperately needed.
Eventually, Duncan's plight was brought to the attention of philanthropist Shawn Prendergast, founder and president of the United States-based Rudolph Prendergast Foundation, who immediately pledged financial support to build a house with bathroom and other amenities for Duncan.
Prendergast then discussed the project with fellow benefactor Claude “Big Stone” Sinclair and the collaboration inspired Stream of Hope Foundation, which is also based in the United States, to join the effort, along with Powerhouse record label in Arnett Gardens.
“I saw the Patrick Duncan story after it was brought to my attention by Shawn Prendergast, who was touched,” Sinclair told the Jamaica Observer.
He said the Rudolph Prendergast Foundation was instrumental in buying Duncan $15,000 worth of groceries, and “Supreme Ventures came on-board and gave him close to $70,000 worth of food”.
According to Sinclair, he and his colleagues could not ignore the opportunity to help Duncan, especially given the dilapidated conditions in which he was living.
Last week, when the Observer went to the building site Duncan was smiling, in sharp contrast to the frown that normally distinguished his face as he walked about the community.
And, with his new board house near completion, plus the assistance he now receives, the running joke among some residents is that a number of women in the community are eyeing him as a potential spouse.
Duncan's friend, Errol George Saunders, was happy for him.
“He was living in the car, so I feel good for what I see happening. I feel very, very good and I know Patrick feels good, even though it nuh done yet. Mi respect and love unuh. I never know this would move so fast. I thought it would take another two years. I respect all who came on-board,” he said.