He is perhaps one of the oldest entrepreneurs on the island. And although he is unable to get around like he used to up to two years ago, 80-year-old Albert Griffith is not allowing his disability to stop him from doing something he loves while earning an income.
The Thorne’s Gap, Barbarees Hill, St Michael man who once worked as a forklift driver at the Bridgetown Port, retired from that job some 15 years ago and shortly after he started building and selling dog houses.
A year later, Griffith’s left leg was amputated just below the knee due to a worsening condition as a result of diabetes. He also had four toes removed from his right foot.
Barbados TODAY recently spotted the man in his wheelchair just outside his house where he works, painting one of the eye-catching dog houses. Griffith was happy to speak with our news team as he applied the yellow paint to the huge kennel.
“When I left the Bridgetown Port, I picked up this. I started from age 65 until now,” he quipped, as he asked us to guess his age.
“I am 80-years-old. On June 7, I was 80-years-old, and I sat down and built a dog house that day too,” he said, as he pointed to one of the kennels a few feet away.
He said while his monthly benefit from the National Insurance Scheme was “a lot” of help, he simply could not give up his venture. An upbeat Griffith said business has been great over the years, but the coronavirus had put a dent in his trade over the past several months.
“But now it is coming back up because as I put one out, it is sold. And this one I am painting now, about four people asked me about it,” he said.
Griffith admitted that after his surgery last year to remove the leg, he was feeling a little down, thinking about how he would get around again.
“When I left the hospital, the doctor told me, ‘Mr Griffith, if you are accustomed to making one dog house when you go home, make four,” he recalled.
Stating that he has always been a very active man, the retiree said that advice gave him enough encouragement to continue his trade. He gets help from two other men to build the kennels.
While Griffith remains positive about business, he has one concern – he wants to get around again by walking. It was for that reason that his daughter, who resides in the US, bought him a prosthetic leg. However, the measurements were off and the area that attaches to the knee is too wide.
Griffith told Barbados TODAY that while he was able to locate a doctor at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital who would be able to make one for him, he was very concerned about the cost.
“When I went to therapy, I took the leg to the hospital and the man said, ‘you don’t send legs for anybody. You have to get it measured and made, but I will take off the top and make a top to fit the bottom, but you have to give me $3, 800. My hat nearly fell off. He told me that I have to pay $3, 800 and I said ‘skipper why? My daughter only buy this for US$300,” he said.
Griffith said while he would prefer to get it done locally, he was at a point now where he would prefer to go overseas and get a new leg.
“I tell my daughter, ‘look, why don’t you send a ticket for me and let me come and you can carry me and get it sorted and send me back home’. But I can’t travel now. So she told me just hang in there,” said Griffith.
He currently packs the empty space in the ill-fitted prosthetic leg with socks just so he could still practice walking from time to time. But because it can be so uncomfortable, Griffith, who is also known as Ant Man, said: “I don’t go nowhere.”
He said he was hoping that very soon he would be able to do some of the things he once enjoyed including hanging out with friends.
“One time I used to go and play some dominoes down there by the fish sellers [Baxter’s Road]. I done with that because if you down there and you hear Pax! Pax! What are you gonna do? You understand?” he said.
“If I had the foot, I would go anywhere,” said Griffith. [email protected]