Blind computer repairman has vision to uplift his family
Disabled but not deterred is the phrase that best describes the character of Dean Anthony Whyte, a blind man who lives in Longsville Park, Clarendon.
Despite his disability, Whyte does electrical and construction work , makes and repairs computers, and even claims to be a more than useful tailor. He developed his sewing skills under a HEART/NSTA Trust programme, where he made sandals and honed the skills of manoeuvring a sewing machine.
He said, however, that he has no formal training in the computer or technology-related field. When working on computers, Whyte gets assistance from his 14-year-old son, Dean, who reads codes or letters on various USB cables before he fits them on to the machine. In an interview with THE WEEKEND STAR, Whyte described a heartbreaking journey which began in 1999 when he was diagnosed with glaucoma as a 23-year-old security guard. Glaucoma is a condition that damages the eye's optic nerve.
Whyte said, "When I realised I had an issue with my sight it was devastating. Growing up and finding out you not gonna have your sight, it's gonna be a lot of challenge because I don't used to depend on people. I normally do everything for myself and depend on myself so it was really difficult."
"When I found out I was blind was one day something bite me in my back and when I [looked] over the left side I [was] not seeing anything over there, but when me [look] over the right side me kinda glimpse over that side and when me realise that me start panic," he said. Whyte visited an ophthalmologist the next day.
"The doctor was like, 'Yuh nuh see yuh totally blind, man? Within two years' time yuh nah go able fe see nutten,'" Whyte shared.
He told THE WEEKEND STAR that his disability has dwindled his family's earnings, sending him into a tailspin as he ponders the well-being of his wife and four sons, ages 20, 18, 14 and 11. He said his family is often sustained by the generosity of relatives overseas who sometimes send funds to offset expenses.
Whyte lamented that while he is capable of doing several tasks, people deny him job opportunities because he is blind. Known as 'CD King' throughout the parish, he explained that the advancement of technology has caused a slump in his business, as sales of CDs and DVDs have dwindled over the years. Whyte added that he dreams of getting a job to cater to his family's needs, especially the academic pursuits of his children.
"Where school is concerned, I can't afford it right now. They get some assistance from PATH but that is not enough because they get a $250 ticket when lunch is $600 and $500, but me a fe try me best," he said. But amid the setbacks, Whyte maintains that his blindness is no deterrent, citing his relentlessness to provide a stable life for his family. He shared that his children are his greatest purpose and all he does is for them.
"Me have issues from all different angle but me still a try...nah make nutten stop me, nah mek nutten set me back. Me a go try me best fe make sure me achieve supm in a life. [In 1999] the doctor did say me must blind in two years and when him tell me that me say me know him a nuh God, suh him cyaa tell me anything," Whyte said.
He said that a comment from a former employer also propelled him to rise above his circumstances.
"I said to her that I wanted her to assist me by selling me a piece of her property and she said, 'As long as you live you will never be able fe own a piece of land.' I felt disrespected. I felt that she was limiting my abilities,'' he said.
Whyte urged people to show more respect to the blind and admits he encounters disparaging remarks from members of the public, adding that being called 'Bliney', was one of his worst experiences.
"There are blind people who feel disrespected and nuff a the people them who are approaching them is the reason why them nuh leave out a them house. Not because a person is blind you should deal with them in a derogatory way. You have to be tactful," he said. "Some of them tend to think because you have a disability, you must not do anything. Hear them 'Weh yaah do pan the road man? Yuh fe mek somebody come do that man. Stay home.' Not because I'm blind I can't do anything...I am not dead."
His wife Nadine described him as caring and hard-working with a knack for independence. "I can't find a better husband than Dean," she said proudly. She admitted that she was disheartened when he lost his sight, but he assured her that all would be well. Whyte remains optimistic and says he has a purpose he is yet to fulfil.
"I would one day like to write a book about my life and be a motivational speaker for disabled persons who feel as if they are not a part of society," he said.
Persons wishing to provide Whyte with a job or any other assistance may contact him at 876-828-2915.