Ransford Whyte, a 67-year disabled farmer from the Mafoota community in South St. James, has received a new lease on life, with the presentation of prosthetics legs by the United States-based Jamaica Relief Ministries (JRM) at a cost of US$15,000.
Mr. Whyte, who was once employed as an engineer at the University of the West Indies (then University College) lost both legs to Berger’s Disease, which is a kidney ailment that can cause accumulation of fluid in the legs.
Despite his disability, Mr. Whyte engaged himself in small farming, making a steady livelihood to support his six-member family.
His valiant efforts were noticed by Inspector of the Poor, Jeremiah Dehaney, who sought assistance from Jamaica Relief Ministries to acquire the prosthetic legs.
At the presentation ceremony held recently at the Mafoota community centre, Mr. Donaldson informed that the prosthetic devices were the second pair to be presented to Mr. Whyte by Jamaica Relief Ministries, noting that the first pair was presented some 17 years ago, along with a wheelchair.
However, as Mr. Dehaney informed, the legs deteriorated over time, hence the presentation of a second pair, in addition to financial assistance for the refurbishing of his home.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Noel Donaldson, lauded the representatives of the Jamaica Relief Ministries for the “tremendous gesture of goodwill” to someone in need.
“We recognize the sacrifice you have made to be giving of your time and resources . in providing the means through which my good friend is going to be able to walk again. Please let us continue to build the bonds of friendship which have been established over the years,” Mayor Donaldson said.
Mr. Whyte expressed his appreciation to the St. James Parish Council, the Poor Relief Department and the Jamaica Relief Ministries for the gift, after which Mayor Donaldson and Jackie Blackburn, the leader of the charitable organization, helped him to fit the prosthetic legs.
With his new legs, Mr. Whyte was finally on equal “footing” with those around them and everyone applauded as he took his first steps.
Jamaica Relief Ministries was established shortly after the passage of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 to offer assistance to victims. The organization, has among other things, helped in the construction of about 32 houses and the refurbishing of several others.