Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 11th 2014 Contents KHARA PERSAD
Welcoming the team
from the T&T
Guardian into her
Diego Martin home,
when asked where
she would like to have the interview,
Kerensa Joshua laughed without hes-
itation and replied: "Anywhere. It
doesn t matter, I come with my own
It doesn t matter to Joshua because
she needs a manual wheelchair to get
The cheerful 40-year-old was paral-
ysed from the chest down since 2007,
and has to use the wheelchair to move.
She doesn t beat around the bush
when it comes to her disability. Joshua
says simply "I own it."
A bright yellow sticker with bold,
black writing on the left side of her
wheelchair says: "Does this wheelchair
make my butt look big?"
It s one of many telling signs that
Joshua is not ashamed of her disability,
does not want people to be uncom-
fortable around her, and has accepted
what happened six years ago.
She was the designated driver on
the night of her car accident on Sep-
tember 30, 2007, when a vehicle
slammed into the back of her Toyota
Corolla near the Caroni Bird Sanctuary
and sped off.
Her friend Narissa, who sat in the
passenger seat, suffered a broken col-
larbone, while Joshua, in addition to
a broken collarbone, broke her neck,
spine and ribs.
Her life changed in a way that made
independence impossible for a long
time. Previously a human resource
manager she became a T4 paraplegic
(spinal injury from chest level), and
could not bathe herself, or control her
These drastic changes meant hiring
a full-time nurse and adult diapers
became a necessity.
"I have to get up every five hours to
change them," she said matter-of-fact-
ly, sitting in her living room. Joshua,
who has about 13 tattoos, including a
colourful image of Lord Ganesha on
her left upper arm, shared these per-
sonal details willingly, openly,
After the accident, she received a
$200,000 claim cheque from her Acci-
dental Death and Disability insurance
policy, but sure enough that money
plus her savings eventually ran out,
and the $900 a week nurse had to go.
And that was when Joshua took con-
trol of her life and taught herself to
live again, as an independent woman.
She now bathes herself, changes her
own adult briefs, cooks her meals, and
But even though Joshua has bach-
elors and masters degree in human
resources, as well as more than 15 years
of working experience, she cannot find
"I just need someone to stop letting
the chair be a obstacle to the contri-
bution I can make to their workforce,"
she explained, adding that the disabled
population was a viable workforce and
society needed to recognise that.
But a person who cannot find full-
time employment, needs money from
someone or somewhere to get by.
When she first got out of the hos-
pital, she applied for help from the
National Insurance Board of T&T (NIB)
requesting an invalidity benefit. After
her approval from the board, she
received about $1,078 a month which
increased to $1,372 in 2013.
Because of this income, the Ministry
of the People and Social Development
has denied Joshua a disability assistance
grant. Joshua said staff at the ministry
told her because the money she
received from NIB exceeded $1,000,
she was not eligible for their grant.
"How am I, and people like me sup-
posed to live?" she asked.
Saying she would never hire another
nurse, the money was simply to live
Adult diapers alone cost up to $800
a month, she explained.
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
The chief cameraman
on Oscar-winning film
Gravity has won an award
for his work at a cere-
mony in Los Angeles.
Peter Taylor was named
camera operator of the year
ahead of a field of nominees
including cameramen who
worked on American Hustle
and Saving Mr Banks.
The Society of Camera
Operators (SOC) also paid
tribute to Sarah Jones, who
was killed by a train in the US
while working on the film
Midnight Rider. The 27-
year-old s parents accepted
an honorary membership on
Her father Richard said: "I
know she is looking down
with a smile. Her enthusiasm
is contagious and I hope it
The crew of the film had
laid down a bed on a railway
line in Georgia before the
collision, which injured sev-
eral other members of the
crew. The SOC s David
Fredrick urged the 500 peo-
ple attending the awards to
sign a pledge calling for
greater safety on film sets.
In accepting the award for
Gravity, Peter Taylor dedi-
cated it to the film s camera
and grip crew. (BBC)
Continues on Page A28
Gravity cameraman collects Hollywood honour
DISABILITY NO OBSTACLE
Even though Joshua has bachelors and masters degree in
human resources, as well as more than 15 years of working
experience, she cannot find full-time employment. "I just
need someone to stop letting the chair be an obstacle to
the contribution I can make to their workforce."
Kerensa Joshua took
control of her life and
taught herself to live
again as an
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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