Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Royal pains for Prince - Disabled woman tires of abuse, grateful for stepson’s loyalty

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2020 | 12:13 AMJonielle Daley/Gleaner Intern

Sixty-year-old Vinnett Prince wears a pair of slippers on her hands to assist her to move around as a deformity causes her feet to be set almost in a lotus position, causing her to live a difficult life.

Though she has a wheelchair, the Sandy Gut, St Catherine, resident has been taking public transportation and moving about by creeping, which has caused a lifetime of blisters and bruises on her buttocks and legs.

Through the dark times, her stepson, Joel Whitelocke, has been a tower of strength.

“Mi batter, enuh. Dem lick me, dem cuss me, dem tell me bad word, and all dem way deh, and a him (Whitelocke) by mi side,” she said.

Whitelocke visits her for weeks at a time to assist her with chores, run errands, and help take care of her. It is a responsibility he has taken on since his father passed away three years ago.

“Is mi father did a look ‘bout her, so is that habit me come by taking up now doing the same thing [because] me no see she have no help at all,” he told The Gleaner. “She haffi drive all the way to Bog walk or Linstead to get anything. Sometimes she come in a night, nobody to cook nor nothing at all, and when she come in, [she sometimes] fall down in a di fire, and dem way deh, so me haffi come back.”

Joel explained that of the four children and three grandchildren that Prince has, no one has turned up to care for her.

Though they are adults – and two live close by – Prince said that apart from her youngest child, David, she cannot recall the last time she has seen her children, who she said she all gave birth to at home.

Prince lives in a one-bedroom house with a kitchen area.

She told The Gleaner that she is unable to creep to the bathroom because of its location.

“Mi use di pan and him carry it go down there and dash it weh,” she bemoaned. “When him (Whitelocke) nuh deh ya, mi use it and put it in a bag and dig hole and put it ‘cause mi cyaa go dung a di bathroom.”

Prince has grown weary of her life’s ordeal as added to her struggles, men from the community have broken into her house at least three times, attempting to rape her.

The 2020 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions showed a decrease in poverty across the island, falling by 6.7 percentage points year on year to 12.6 per cent in 2018, the latest year for which data has been released.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said this decline may be attributed to an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP), an increase in employment, an increase in the proportion of households in the lower quintiles that received remittances, as well as a slowing in the rate of inflation.

While decreases were seen across the island, rural areas still had the highest level of poverty (15 per cent) compared with the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area (9.2 per cent) and other urban centres (12 per cent).

Economists are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic could erase gains made as the economy contracts under the strain of a deadly coronavirus and measures being implemented to fight it.