‘Help Leroy’

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LEROY Barton desperately wants to get to Kingston. His life depends on it.

The 61-year-old St Mary man has been afflicted with a large facial tumour and urgently needs medical attention. However, he has no money; he has no family and he has no friend.

His story was brought to the attention of the Jamaica Observer North & East by Briton Susan Sherrat, who was on her 14th visit to the island when she observed Barton’s condition.

Sherrat, in an e-mail to Observer North & East last week, said Barton has spent most of his days hungry and stressed that his condition could worsen if he does not get the help he needs.

“I would like to bring Leroy to your attention and your readers, but the sad fact is many of your readers will know already yet choose not to see. He lives on the side of the road at Tower Isle, St Mary. He takes shelter in [bushes]. He has a growth that’s growing constantly on his face.

“He could have this attended to, but he has zero funds and so he is not able to travel to a Kingston hospital. Many days he goes without food, yet hotel staff, taxi drivers, drug dealers and others pass him by all the time. As a visitor to your island, I ask, where is your one love? This is your brother. Whilst I appreciate [some] are on low incomes and have little to share, how do you, passersby, sleep at night knowing that this man is open to all elements with usually an empty belly?” Sherrat questioned.

She explained that she has been providing Barton with much-needed food and clothing, but lamented his medical condition which, she said, she could not properly arrange help for before leaving the island last Wednesday.

Observer North & East visited the area and spoke with Barton who explained that he sought medical attention for his condition in St Ann, but was told by a doctor that he would have to “deal with it” in Kingston.

Barton said he first noticed a bump on his face in the 1980s. He said he ignored it, thinking that it was a regular bump. Over time, he said he realised that the bump began to grow until it reached the size it is today.

“I went to see the doctor. He wrote me a letter and said I’m to take it to KPH (Kingston Public Hospital). I could not afford to go and so I didn’t go. I don’t know the place and I don’t have any money to get there,” Barton said.

“Anything that the country can do for me I would appreciate [it]. I don’t know how long I will have with it (tumour),” he added.

Barton told Observer North & East that he was not always homeless or living well below the county’s poverty line. He once worked for his family as a carver but the business died when his uncle did.

With the growing tumour on the left side of his face, he said that he found it difficult to get a job, as people would shun him upon seeing the growth.

The bills started piling up and soon, he had to seek refuge on the street. Family, he said, grew weary of his condition and began avoiding him. He doesn’t have children.

“Life goes on. Mi affi find it on my own more time. You see me? Me is a hustler so mi might pick some jelly and sell it. If mi get a buyer, mi happy. Sometimes mi pick ackee and sell and then mi make sure seh mi buy food so mi can eat. Other time I am down so I do what it takes. I have to eat food so I boil up some bush and eat,” said Barton.

“This growth is what keep me back. Many times I go anywhere people just looking like it’s the first man they see with something this big. It’s like I affi keep by myself. That’s the problem I have. A lot of times I will walk out and see if I get a lot of work but a person see all this, him seh ‘yuh sick’. Even when you tell him you can work him still feel yuh sick. So it’s a hard road but I know I have to travel.

“Listen mi, I’m a good guy. I don’t bother people. I don’t bother children, adult, old people or anybody. I don’t raid people place like some people do. So they (residents) will help me with food or give me a $200. They know I don’t have it, but I just want some help. I want to get to Kingston,” the man added.

He also shared that some residents have promised to accompany him to the hospital, but to date, no one has followed through.

Sherrat, in the meantime, is urging residents to assist Barton in getting to KPH.

“If I were here I would take a couple of days and go to Kingston with him. Has no one got a heart? My husband and I came here on vacation two weeks ago. We went for a walk because we like to meet and talk to the local people. We bring football kits for the children that are given to us by the football clubs — Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal. We go to schools and give them out. One day we were walking down the street and we saw Leroy. He was really down on his luck.

“The next time we passed I stopped to talk to him and I got a bit of his story and I realised that he has his wits about him. I just couldn’t understand some of his patois. So we just went to the store and we bought him some stuff. He’s got no luxuries but he was grateful. I think he’d like to feel a bit of kindness and warmth and I think he’d like to feel Jamaica’s one love. He needs help. I love the people here; I love the country. I love the beauty of the island. I’ve also been to Egypt and their country is not as pretty as yours. We love the people, but this has saddened me. Leroy’s situation has saddened me. I know he’s not the only one, but I must say in all my visits he is the saddest case I’ve seen. How can anyone go home and live with themselves seeing him like this?” said Sherrat.

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