He has no fingers, and only one leg; but it does not stop Anthony Grazette from using one of his many talents: wrapping gifts –– and with them the attention and hearts of many Barbadians who admire him.
As Barbadians go about their Christmas shopping in Sheraton Mall, Christ Church, they stop at Grazette’s gift wrapping booth, if not to gaze in amazement at his skill, to make go use of his Christmas service of wrapping gifts.
From early December, he gets going at his operation called Anthony’s Gift Wrapping.
With only the assistance of his thumbs, the 32-year-old, who was born with the deformity, wraps daily scores of Christmas gifts neatly and firmly, adding that special bow or ribbon for the perfect finishing touch.
Many stop and stare. Some pass and look back until he is out of their sight. Others offer words of encouragement. Those who use his service express their gratitude and admiration.
“Sometimes people would stop and stare at me wrapping because they are surprised to see that somebody without fingers can wrap gifts. It is very easy for me to do this. It comes very normal for me because I come up with different styles and fashions to wrap them. I try not to wrap everybody’s gift the same way.
“I just want to satisfy my customers. I feel special when I do a job and my customer is happy that someone did an incredible job. For this season all I have been hearing from persons is that ‘he is very talented’,” he told Barbados TODAY earlier this morning, as he wrapped a gift for a customer.
Grazette grew up in a children’s home and he experienced the usual challenges any child who is not disabled would, and also had to cope with learning how to brush his teeth, eat, shower and dress among other things –– without fingers and one leg missing.
But that did not stop him. Though he felt sorry for himself at times, he did not let it stifle or drown his will to survive.
“As a child it was kind of difficult because I went through a lot of stress with other people who were normal and they tried to fret me and tease me; but I had to get along with my life.
“Some people try telling me to ignore what people say about me. When I see other people with their parents I feel bad, but people tell me things just to calm me down.
“I overcame what I went through by trying to live a normal life like anybody else. I born like this but I try to become normal like everyone else. If I had born normal and lost my parts, then it would have been difficult for me to adapt. But I was born like this,” said the former St George Primary and St James Secondary student, who also studied at the Barbados O’Level Institute and the Barbados Community College Hospitality Institute.
Those familiar with Grazette’s inspiring story know that he has been blessed with many talents he discovered and developed on his own.
“I was never trained to do. I play the keyboard, I sing, I am good at working with the computer and I am good at technical stuff. Most of the things that I can do I taught myself to do”.
But as impressed as people are with Grazette, and as proud as he is about overcoming many obstacles, he said one of his Christmas wishes, which has been the same every year for many years, is for able-bodied people in society to erase the belief that people with disabilities are incompetent.
“I do what I do to put in persons’ heads that people with disabilities can do things. I send in applications different places, but I never get a response. Some places where I go to work, I get problems and wherever I get problems in the workplaces, I leave the work,” he indicated.
He explained: “I decide to do this every year to try to make my own money for myself because working with people is quite difficult as a disabled person because they try to discourage and pull you down.”
Seeing himself as an example for many to follow, especially at this time when the country’s economy is challenged, Grazzette encouraged people with disabilities to continue doing what they want to do and to never even invite the thought of giving up on life because all things are possible through Christ.
“The Lord will never give up on you, I can tell you that,” he said.