Four months ago, 16-year-old Daran Taylor was a fun-loving, avid football lover, who was well on his way to realizing his dream of becoming a professional barber.
But this all changed on September 1 last year when tragedy struck, placing Daran’s life in jeopardy and his future in limbo.
He was attending a promotion event near his home in Lodge Road, Christ Church when he was shot in his head by unknown assailants. His mother Maria said life for the teenager has not been the same since.
“He was hospitalized [and] when they checked there was no bullet. It went straight through. He had to undergo surgery to remove the fragments from his head,” she explained.
Young Daran spent nearly two months in hospital clinging on to life, before he was discharged on October 24.
However, his troubles were far from over as he suffered a major setback.
“He had a leak at the back of his head and I had to take him back to the doctor to see what was going on and he was admitted again. So he has to do surgery to rectify that,” his mother said.
Maria said her son was “basically back at square one” because he had to learn to do virtually everything all over again.
“After surgery he was unable to walk. They had to do a little therapy with him because he was unable to write and speak properly. Eventually he did start to walk a little. It has also affected his sight a bit, not being able to write or use a spoon or fork to eat properly,” she said.
Daran was developing into a talented artist and competent barber when he was shot, his mother said, adding that his inability to continue doing what he loved was particularly worrying.
“He was doing the A Ganar [youth workforce development] programme where he was cutting hair. He was assigned to the psychiatric hospital where he received pay. That was his main goal, to become a barber, so not being able to use his hand is a real setback now. He also loved playing football,” she added.
The 39-year-old unemployed mother of three said the road ahead would be a tough one.
“It’s a lot of work because we now have to start from scratch. A lot of therapy he has to get done and the hospital doesn’t have a speech therapist. And it’s $100 per hour to do it outside. I had to get an appointment done at the polyclinic but they’re all in 2017,” she told Barbados TODAY while pointing out that she had not been receiving much help and that she was not working at the moment.
“I was on sick leave at the time he was shot, and it’s a year I had sick leave. I need to get help. He has a lot to get through right now,” she said.
However, amidst it all, the former Princess Margaret Secondary School student remains in high spirits, and has started to utter a few words.
“He’s high in spirits. He’s not drawing up or anything like that. He’s calling some words but when he walks he drifts sometimes to the left.”
Daran has been receiving encouragement from another accident victim, Taurean Clarke, who lost his left leg in a vehicular accident on Whit Monday last year.
Clarke, 26, did not know Daran, but was drawn to the teenager because of their similar personal struggles.
Having suffered his own trauma, Clarke said he wanted to be an inspiration.
“I’m just there to lend the support. I made the promise to him and his mother that I would stick with them and I told him anything he’s going through I am going to go through it with him. Right now he’s like my little brother and I’m just hoping for the best . . . . I know it’s going to be a lot because I went through the same thing so I really need to stay there with him and I intend to do that.
“After my incident I realized life can be taken from anyone within a split second and just led me to change a part of my life and now I just want to motivate people, inspire them.
“My cousin told me about Daran because he was always down. I met him and from there I was by his side. I know it’s not easy. I’m still going through a lot. So it’s kind of like I support him, I support myself and we are in it together,” Clarke said.