Indieanna Cleare, 42, has been paralyzed on the left side of her body for 29 years after contracting meningitis as a child.
She lives with her three children – two teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son, Joshua – in a small, dilapidated Bain Town home.
Cleare said she struggles with her self-image, having been looked down upon for so long.
“I don’t feel like how everyone else feels,” she said, her voice barely a whisper as a result of her condition.
“I feel like a whole different person. I think people look at me different. They don’t think of me as a functioning person like everyone else. They always think that I can’t do this, can’t do that. But truly I can do everything for myself, mostly everything.”
She added, “They treat me as this person who doesn’t look like everybody else, how I walk, how I talk. They always looking down at me. I just don’t feel comfortable anymore. I used to be looking for a job and stuff, but people never gave me a chance yet to prove myself.
“I just hope one day I get that chance. I still can do some things, but it can’t be any heavy work. But I could clean up house, and I could cook. I could do all kinds of things, but the chance just isn’t there for me.”
Cleare said she collects less than $300 in disability benefits from the National Insurance Board each month, but it’s nowhere near enough.
She said she makes weekly treks to food banks in her community to feed her family.
“These children, they is eat plenty,” she said.
“And I try not to let them waste it. I feed them two times [a day].
“I don’t really have to feed my daughters [anymore] because they can feed themselves. So, I just focus on [my son].”
Cleare said the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated an already difficult life for her.
With no computer, smartphone or internet at home, Joshua has not been able to attend virtual school lessons, and with the new school year quickly approaching, Cleare said she is trying to find the money for a tablet.
But with no substantial income, her money dries up quickly. She said Joshua has a skin condition that she has to purchase special soaps to treat, and she prioritizes that so that he won’t be ostracized like she is.
“I don’t have a tablet for him,” she said.
“I’m trying to get one now. But out of that money, I try to do everything. But…he has a skin condition.
“…I have to buy different soaps and things to try and get his skin better.
“And I know how he feels, because having skin like that, nobody wants to be around him. I try my best. The couple of dollars I get, I have to buy food out of that, buy things for his skin, buy toiletries and stuff. It only could go so far.”
Cleare pleaded for someone to give her a chance to make her own money.
“Just give me a chance,” she said.
“Let me prove myself.
“If you don’t think I’m doing a good job at what you employed me to do, then I can’t make you say that you will keep me on. But just give me that one chance to prove myself.”