(JAMAICA GLEANER) — Walking into Andrew Nelson’s yard in Simon, Clarendon, the first sight to pull in wandering eyes is a wheelchair hoisted in a tree. It belongs to the 42-year-old who, although born without legs, climbs trees, does some farming and landscaping, and readily tackles other tasks many able-bodied persons might think twice about.
In a chat with The Gleaner, Nelson said that growing up with a disability wasn’t easy and took a lot of mental strength to cope with. He doesn’t welcome pity from people as he doesn’t see himself as being any less than his peers.
For him, the disability presented an opportunity to show his determination and prove that he can rise above any hurdles in his way.
Despite the positive mindset, however, even his steadfast optimism cannot channel him through his newest test.
“Look around you at the land. It is dry,” Nelson bemoaned, casting his eyes at the parched landscape. “Added to that, the water system is not good enough.”
The dry conditions have significantly affected his farm and dealt a severe blow adding to the crushing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. He bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t even eligible for a compassionate grant of $10,000 under the State’s COVID-19 relief programme.
“Dem say you have to have TRN and NIS to get the $10,000 to do some shopping. I never get any because I trying to sort out my documents,” he said, wondering how many other persons in a similar position were also left in the cold.
Turning back to the drought challenges, Nelson said that Simon was desperately in need of a proper water system to make life easier for residents.
“There is no water. The little parish council (municipal corporation) tank that is here, if you look inside of it now, your stomach sick because the little water that is there, muck!” he said in disgust. “Water finish now, so people have to drink it. This cannot work. And people talking about wash your hands because of the COVID?”
Farming, Nelson said, has been his passion since he began “sticking things into the ground” at five years old.
“Yes! I have been farming since I was five!” he said again after seeing the reaction of the Gleaner team.
“Mi always a do something. No matter how little bit it is, mi always a put it in the ground. I grow up and just continue doing it,” he stated.
Nelson added that while he wasn’t formally taught landscaping and furniture-making, he honed his skills by observing other persons practising their craft.
The man who describes himself as “a little bit of everything” admits that his inner strength comes from friends, who constantly support and encourage him.
His word for “two-legged folks”?
“There are chances in life that can make you successful. Think about things carefully before you give up. There are a lot of things you can do to make two ends meet,” said the man who should know.