Phillip Lynch, 31, stands just three feet tall because he was born without knees. As a result, he uses a wheelchair.
Guardian Media first interviewed him in December 2014 when he had to leave Aylward House, a transitional facility for older boys and socially displaced children operated by the Credo Foundation in Gonzales because he had come of age. Then Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC)) Jearlean John was contacted about Lynch’s situation and he was allocated a ground floor apartment at Charford Courts, Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain, in 2015.
Newly married and a father of a healthy baby boy, Lynch says of his new life: “I am doubly blessed.”
Accompanied by his wife, Joenell Blackwill-Lynch, 20, and their 10-month-old son, Yohan, he recently shared the inspiring story of how he met his bride, got married and the challenges they face as a family.
“I just wanted to settle down and have a wife and family. I prayed for that and God pulled through for me,” Lynch said. “He has blessed us with a healthy and beautiful son, Yohan. I remain humble and pray my wife gets something to do, not for me so much. When we are a little more financially better, we will have more children in the future.”
He said he first met his future bride many years ago when she was a pupil at St. Roses Girls’ RC. However, they lost touch for many years.
They had a chance encounter after Blackwill-Lynch argued with her then-boyfriend. They struck up a conversation and after that would meet regularly at the fast food outlet in Port-of-Spain where she worked. Lynch would wait at the taxi stand on Nelson Street for Blackwill-Lynch and escort her to and from work.
The first time she visited his apartment, they limed, played music, watched movies and then went to the Savannah.
The couple was married on April 15, the day before Lynch’s birthday, at the Faith Christian Fellowship Church in Petit Valley.
However, life has not been easy for newlyweds. The family’s biggest challenge is making do with Lynch’s modest disability grant, particularly as they have to provide for the baby. There is not enough money to cover more than the basics, so the couple cannot even indulge in the occasional leisure outing or even a visit with relatives in Moruga.
Lynch does occasional private jobs in television production and editing videos and hopes to start his own business, repairing computers, video editing, sound engineering, or electronics.
With limited finances, Lynch has not been able to do much-needed work to make his apartment more secure. He is concerned about recent attempts to break into his home. Besides, his wheelchair was showing wear, Lynch may soon need a motorised wheelchair as he was recently diagnosed with arthritis which doctors believe was caused by overuse of his upper body to compensate for his underdeveloped legs.
For her part, Blackwill-Lynch admitted that some of her relatives did not approve of her relationship with Lynch because of his disability. However, the couple got her father’s blessing. She gave up her job at a fast-food outlet when she got pregnant because she was concerned about the health of her baby. She said working in the heat with the boiling oil and heavy lifting became too strenuous.
She plans to look for work when Yohan is a little older since it has been difficult to go job hunting while taking care of the baby.
To make ends meet, the couple operates a mini-parlour and relatives have chipped in with baby items.
The couple is now looking to the future, planning for pre-school for their son, who is already a bundle of energy and looking forward to brighter days ahead.