Calcutta Slums? No… Bridgetown, Barbados

UPDATE: December 13, 2008 October 24, 2009

Does Anyone Know What Happened To Stephen Grant?

Ten months ago, Twenty months ago, Barbados Underground, The Nation and Barbados Free Press covered the story of Stephen Grant – a young man with a curable disease called cellulitis. But Stephen was not being taken care of and was not receiving the drugs and treatment that could cure him.

Okay… it is now ten twenty months and two Health Ministers later. Has the Democratic Labour Party government looked after Stephen Grant any better than the BLP government (which did nothing for him).

Well? Does anyone know? Perhaps some of our DLP supporters can give us an accurate status report…

Original story…

A Barbados News Story Reminds Me Of The Saddest Place I’ve Ever Been

The approach to Runway 19 Left at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, India sometimes brings you over the Hooghly River. If you have the luxury of being a passenger or of sitting in the jump seat you can take the time to look down upon some of the most depressing slums in all the world including Howrah of “City Of Joy” fame.

A few years ago, Calcutta (the tenth largest city in the world) changed its name to “Kolkata” in a move of ethnic cultural supremacy that is still hotly debated in the city and throughout India. Only eight years ago I was stuck at the airport for two days waiting because the fuel bowser crew and the fuel depot crew (who were ethnic Bengalis) weren’t speaking to each other over the name change.

But whatever the ruling party decided and thought they achieved with the name change, the world still says “Calcutta” and probably will for the next hundred years.

In the minds of those who have been there, even for only a day or two, the word “Calcutta” often brings on a feeling of despair at how we fail to look after our brothers and sisters who suffer from diseases that could easily be cured for a few dollars worth of medicine. It doesn’t matter how many National Geographic documentaries you’ve seen, you have no idea of the extent of the suffering that exists in this world until you have seen the reality of Calcutta.

But that is Calcutta, not my Barbados.

So why when I visited Barbados Underground this morning and read about a young man named Stephen Grant, did I immediately have a flashback to the time I spent in Calcutta?


Go over to Barbados Underground, and then to the article at the Nation News. I know little about medicine, but from what I have been able to research online, Stephen Grant has Celluitis – apparently a perfectly curable disease with modern medicines and proper care.

Why, here in “modern” Barbados – the playground of those who own Gulfstream jets and polo ponies – do we see the terrible plight of a nice young man like Stephen Grant? Why is he not in the hospital being administered antibiotics intravenously? (What do I know… I’m not a doctor.) Why does our hospital look like this? How is it that our country is BILLIONS in debt, yet thousands of our citizens lack clean, reliable water supplies?

People must be held to account for the waste, neglect and abuses of the past decade, and we can’t do everything for everybody – but all that aside, surely as a society we can scrape together what it will take to save Stephen Grant.

Further Reading

Barbados Underground: Stephen Grant’s Plea: Help! Help! Help!

Nation News: Walking On Hard Times

Wikipedia: Cellulitis

US National Library Of Medicine: Cellulitis


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Health, Politics

51 responses to “Calcutta Slums? No… Bridgetown, Barbados

  1. rasta man

    What a disaster.
    Can the doctors at the QEH know about this condition?
    Every Bajan should be concerned as it could happen to them!!!!

  2. reality check

    The selfless and caring Mother Theresa’s of the world are few and far between.

    We are all hoping that our new batch of politicians will roll up their sleeves and tackle these problems
    day by day.

    The politicians who lost their seats should be down at the QEH or schools volunteering their time just to get a whiff of those they have sorely neglected.

  3. me

    always with hysterics … you BFP makes it seem so easy to solve EVERYONES problems!


    BFP says,

    I would imagine that Stephen Grant does not view our questions as “hysterics”.

    Look at his photo, then do the research yourself online. Mr. Grant’s condition appears to be curable with the correct drugs and a proper care routine.

    If your research shows anything different, please let us know.

  4. Trinbajan

    Oh good grief! Comparing Barbados with Calcutta because of one unfortunate case. Even several unfortunate cases in Barbados would be a stretch. The slums of India have millions of people living in abject poverty.

    My issue with this blog is always the same: you raise some good issues, report on things that the mainstream media do not, but you are prone to the most outrageous exaggerations and embellishments which undermine your credibility. You try to sensationalize some of your issues with the most ridiculous analogies. It’s no wonder you can’t get recognition from anyone but the most disenfranchised people who have an axe to grind.

    When I try to point to one of your better stories, someone points out something ridiculous you’ve posted (like this) and I must take a back seat. This rubbish undermines all credibility.


    BFP says,

    Well… if the slums of Calcutta have millions of people like Stephen Grant and we only have a few such people on Barbados, then please forgive us for even mentioning it.

    No comparison at all, obviously. Hardly worth bothering with. What is the preventable death of one man? Nothing to you, of course.

    We’ll just never mention Stephen Grant again and then you’ll be happy.

  5. born and bred

    Yes me,

    we can solve each other’s problems that is what we are put on this earth to do. What a selfish comment.

    Since BFP and BU have brought this terrible situation to our attention, how about BU and BFP setting up a fund at one of the banks that bloggers can make a donation for Stephen Grant.

    It is DEPLORABLE that such cases should exist when the ULTRA rich “play” not far away. There are so many in this island that have so much and CARE SO LITTLE. If the Government doesn’t care it’s up to ALL OF US. Are we not our brother’s keeper?

    Come on Barbados.

  6. Hants

    Trinbaje says…It’s no wonder you can’t get recognition from anyone but the most disenfranchised people who have an axe to grind. ”

    BFP?…. recognition? don’t think so.

    I will bet that a lot of people on this blog don’t read the Nation and Advocate so if the plight of this young man has reached people through BFP it would have been worth it.

    Here is an opportunity for the likes of William and Lynette to join in helping this unfortunate young man.

  7. Hants

    The goal of all Barbadians should be to eradicate poverty.

  8. Karia

    What is Trinibajan talking about. I doubt the smart bajans whether living in Barbados or abroad have ant axe to grind. At least our generation will be more sensitive to the social issues that plague our poor. We need the politicians to start a fight to eradicate poverty and promote supportive housing. This will result with marginalized citizens having a place to rest their heads at night. We cannot let Barbados become a sea of homelessnesswhich equals drugs, mental health and finally crime. Nip it in the bud.

  9. Tony Hall

    I agree that this young man is ill and needs help but there is obviously more to this story than we are hearing. Please, and I say please stop jumping to conclusions before you get the full facts.

  10. Barbados the beautiful

    thank goodness we have blogs like BU and BFP to bring these stories to our attention- yes we need all the facts and want them to come out because it is sad situations like  this that define our countryfrom the sounds of it some would end the blogs because they show us things abot ourselves not knowing all the facts but they are wrong because they make us look at ourselves too

    Let’s remember the govt bragging because those without water got new blue containers- meantime our leaders Owen Lynch Mottley Clarke and the rest bought themselves and their girlfriends more and bigger condos with our money 

    comon everybody take a new look – its about time

  11. Bajanboy

    It is ridiculous that more and more Barbadians are falling through the cracks when the previous administration was giving out BMWs as official cars like there was no tomorrow. I hope the present administration tightens the reins of the “squandermania” and puts the money into good causes like the caring for the growing number of homeless people who are mentally or otherwise ill.

  12. Tell me Why

    This is an abstract from the Nation as stated by Mr. Grant. “I’ve had this [condition] from the time I was 15. Basically, I am on the streets because of my legs. My family isn’t there for me.”

    I empathise with this unfortunate gentleman, who are being ostracised by his own family and certain friends. His family should have been charged for neglect since his condition was known since he was only 15 years, and being homeless from 19 years. I cannot understand how a family can be so wicked to overlook medical and physical condition of its children.

    I do not agree with the blaming of any administration for his condition since we are looking at over 25 years ago. What we can do is to start a “medical fund” to assist him on getting him back on his feet. Peace be unto you.


    BFP Says,

    I would expect that the current Minister of Health would be all over this case by the end of the week. I would use the word “hope” instead of of “expect”, but we believe that this government is different than the last one.

  13. American Tourist

    It is difficult for me to accept that Barbados would not look after a person in dire straits like Mr. Grant. This is not the civilized country that I thought I knew. Mind you it has been six years since we vacationed on Barbados.

  14. Hants

    It is great to strive for Utopia but we have to be reasonable.

    Seems to me that by comparison, Barbados does fairly well for a small Island Nation.

    Hopefully the publicity will get this man some help.

    I wonder how he compares to a “Homeless person” in New York or Toronto.

    Barbados is still a civilised country but some people fall through the cracks.

  15. Bimbro

    Just read this man’s sorry tale and seen the pics of QEH, and to think that, just the other day, one of wunna was chiding me for ‘not returning to Bim for such a long time’!!!!

    I’m sorry for the young man’s plight which obviously, requires attention by the authorities – I must leave you in Bim to attend to that one – but I had to laugh about the thought of ‘returning day’ !!!!

    Wha, an risk getting sick and having to go in there?!!!!

    My god, no thanks!! I’ll take my chances here!!

    In fact, I’ll be visiting a British hospital today, and inspite of all you hear about MRSA, if absolutely, necessary, I WOULD be prepared ‘to eat off the floor’ there!!!! It is a palace, compared to QEH!!!!

    Fifteen years in power and that’s the legacy left for the Barbadian people?!!!! Talk about getting your priorities, ‘ass-about-face’. i.e. upside down!!!!

    And they have the audacity to try to get into power, again?!!!!

    The Bajees would be insane to re-elect them!!!!


  16. born and bred

    The majority of you are making excuses and looking to a Government, any Government as your Saviour.

    They are not.

    Remember the days of no welfare, social services or the like?

    Did we have homeless?

    If his family did not take care of him, how many families do not take care of their own? I can cite mine as an example.

    Again, allow me to remind you “Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you.”

  17. Just asking......

    Do any of the writers plan on helping this young man?
    Including you BFP?
    We talk, talk all the time and depend on Government to assist us but what about us, the ones who come on this blog and talk as though they are immune to such circumstances.
    What I would love to see, is we, as a people coming to the aid of this young man.
    Sadly, we too are more concerned with our own BMWs.
    I challenge all of us to do something however small for this man…..I did at the polyclinic last week, it is easy.
    He goes to the Randall Phillips Polyclinic.

  18. Lady Anon

    Late in 2006, I saw a young man, clearly homeless, shuffling along Bay Street in the area of the old fish market. His left leg was clearly broken. I called the QEH ambulance service.

    About three to four months later, I saw the same young man. I knew it was him because his left leg was now healed, but it had a permanent “bow” between his knee and just above the ankle. He was NEVER given medical attention, and the leg just healed by itself.

    I thought that was what our polyclinics and the QEH was for. I thought they were for the average Barbadian citizen to be able to walk into and get assistance…whether they are working or not, indigent or not.

    That was a wake up call for me.

  19. born and bred

    I have made out a cheque in the amount of $500, payable to Stephen Grant.

    I have put it in the mail today in care of Roxanne Gibbs, Executive Editor at the Nation to put into Stephen’s hands.

    I am neither a representative of the government or a wealthy person but my heart breaks when I see this man’s plight.

    I have given sacrificially. Why don’t some of you do the same instead of pontificating?

    Let’s see how many more people are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

  20. Just asking......

    That is what I am talking about Born and Bred!!

  21. Sister Baby

    Oh my QE2 Hospital looks really bad, not even GEORGETOWN PUBLIC HOSPITAL IN GUYANA looks like that, which at this point I will tell you that a young Bajan girl had open heart surgery at Georgetown Hospital last year and is alive well in Bridgetown. I am utterly saddened by Mr. Gibson’s dilemma, and hopefully some of your wealthy citzens will come to his assistance, or the other scenario is that some of your anti Guyana citizens will find some document that states he is Guyanese and therefore, must be sent home at once to Guyana. Hopefully it is the former and not latter. I am also surprised that none of your posters mentioned the name Guyana in their postings. I guess the very thought of comparing Bridgetown with Calcutta made you forgot about Guyana. I would never think of comparing Bridgetown with Kolcutta (sp) but then again I have only seen BGI Airport from a jet, and as for Calcutta, well just the new name is a turn off for me, so I would not go there for holiday. I like the name Calcutta, it is more refined, but then again I am Guyanese

  22. Anonymous

    I meant to say Mr. Grant, and not Gibson. Sorry

  23. Anonymous

    Hi Tell me why, Mr. Grant’s family don’t know the Lord that is why they choose to kick him out into the streets of Bridgetown. Had they been saved and sanctified they would have attentively cared and housed Mr. Grant, as Jesus had done for the leper. It is a sin, and the only way to prevent this type of behaviour is through Jesus. As the old spiritual says, Bless thou my soul, oh my Lord, Bless thou my soul, and I ask the Lord to Bless Mr. Grant’s soul.

  24. Small Fish

    To Lady Anon …. The man you refer to was seen at the QEH sometime late in 2005 after being struck on Spring Garden H’way. He sustained other injuries along with the broken foot. The problem is his drug addiction caused him to discharge himself, cast and all, before the foot had healed. I think he is in prison at the moment.

  25. Me

    Hysterics because you make these incredible claims. The fact that his family ahve ostracised him speaks volumes. It is up to US each individually to help one another and to try to solve problems not just ‘the govt’…. stop with the hysterics!

  26. born and bred


    February 18 you wrote:

    you BFP makes it seem so easy to solve EVERYONES problems!

    February 19 you write:

    It is up to US each individually to help one another and to try to solve problems.

    What do you really want to say??

  27. Me

    I want to say atht we live in a culture where it is great to complian and to be emotional about perceived injustices etc and to suggest that it is the system or government that is responsible when in effect it boils down to how alot of us see the world. Where is his family? Where is his next door neighbour? Where is the church? and so on? Alos we are hearing his side of the situation I am sure there are other sides. Why make hytserical claims without all the facts, why compare us to Calcutta?

  28. Pat

    I am glad to see that you are trying to help this man. But is giving him the money the right thing to do? How do we know where it will go? How can we put down his family on his say so without knowing the other side? I am sure his legs were not always this size. He is an adult now. He qualifies for free housing and a welfare cheque. I know others down there who are getting both. They are young like him, but are cetified schizophrenics.

  29. Batya

    I was glad to see Stephen Grant in the newspaper for only recently I was wondering what had become of him. He used to attend church in the former Olympic theatre and when the church moved to Wildey he visited for a while and then I did not see him anymore. I, as well as others used to give him busfare to attend church and he had mentioned that when he tried to take the van he was subjected to insults and they would refuse to transport him. When I used to see him on the streets before he came to church, I mistakenly thought he was some crackpot. But I talked to him at church and discovered that he was quite a brilliant young man who had dreams of becoming an artist.
    To those who think that there must be another side to his story, you don’t need to hear another side in order to help someone who is obviously very much in need. Do your part as a human being and leave those who are guilty of his neglect up to God. God will reward you.

  30. Pat

    Batya – why did the Church not help him, or at least intervene with the authorities on his behalf? I know a lady who harassed the authorities until she got a house and the Church until they furnished it. She was in an abusive marriage. She belongs to the Gospel Hall. The house is hers for as long as she lives, the son who lives with her can stay after she dies, but if he moves it goes back to the government agency to be offered to someone else. She is now 70.
    When I was home last year I paid her a visit, it is a nice two bedroom hardwood house in Bayville. Very attractive with a porch and good vinyl windows.

    I think what that young man needs more than anything is medical care. It is free in Barbados, what is the problem with getting him treatment.

  31. Conservatism


    After arriving at JFK at 2:00 AM on Monday morning in NYC, I was astonished to see our new PM and comrade Leroy Parris boarding a private jet to Barbados.

    I have been told it is owned by a Mr Duprey.

    WHO THE HELL IS THIS Mr Duprey ?

  32. Anonymous

    Well as you know I am from South America, and not too well educated or versed in your politics, but couldn’t Mr. Duprey be say the Prime Minister using an alias so you all do not know he has a jet. Your leaders are rich, unlike my leader who has to fly on Caribbean Airlines wherever he goes.

  33. Batya

    I cannot say if they helped him or tried with the authorities. However it’s no use harping on what could’ve or should’ve been. What is important is that we all now know the situation he is in and we can all assist in whatever way we can.

  34. Anonymous

    Many years ago in the decade of independence I use to listen to Rev. Ike (protege of Father Devine) on GBS radio live and direct from Deliverance Temple in Harlem USA. One day Rev. Ike was seeking donations to help with the Church Welfare Program, and he said that when we see people like Mr. Grant appear to us it is really Jesus and we have to act accordingly by feeding and clothing and seeking medical attention for them. So you see Jesus has appeared to you all in the form of Mr. Grant. However, it took 19 years, for you all to notice him, and the reason is that the devil does not want us to see Jesus that is why it took all these years for you all to see him. You ask where are the neighbours, good question, well, as you know Barbados has the highest per capita income in the your region, and with wealth people become selfish and uncaring, unlike in the South American country we look out for each other, we really do, we help each other. I use to think that you all and I were the same but I saw here that we are culturally different, racially the same though. You have lost your African caring culture, that is why Dr. Gibson has to come to us to learn about queh queh and cumfa and so on. We might be poor but we have our African culture in tact and the Indians have thier in tact too. So I think in the long run we are richer than the T&T and B countries.

  35. Anonymous

    I was reading the Nation today and I decided to open some ads for houses for sale, and I tell you it is expensive over there. Some company name Padama or something like that developing homes on the Atlantic side for 1/2 million US dollars and it a 1000 feet lot. Well if that is the future of Barbados then a lot more Mr. Grant’s will appear on the street of B’Town. Your Minister should use the money he spent to recruit Ghana Airways to start coming there to address the needs of people like Mr. Grant. A Ghana Airways jet landing at Seawell will not bring you culturally closer to the Mother Continent. It is just like a person that looks Dr. Tefari wearing dashiki does not make him an African. Anyway I gone in my bed. Bye

  36. Jinx

    It is only when looked at alongside things like the polo matches close to my house in St. James, and the wealth a few lucky [no luck has nothing to do with Charles Williams] that this looks disgraceful. I agree with the person that pointed out, before we had the social service, family used to look after its own. But in my church it is said we are all our brother’s keeper. This is how I would like to see Bajans living.
    That being said only government can help him, as that is the safety net he has to fall back on. Sending him $500 might feed him for a while, but it surely won’t pay rent unless he finds a kind person willing to let him stay by them.

  37. Jinx

    I do not go to church, but i also do believe we are our brothers keeper. This society has simply “changed”.

  38. Johnfc

    To BFP, one of the questions you asked is where is Steven Grant – I saw walking in the grounds of QEH back in September, clearly showing signs of no or little treatment

  39. Just one question…..who took the picture and didn’t think of taking action to find help for Mr. Grant?


    BFP says, the photo came from the Nation newspaper.

  40. born and bred

    I was just talking to my husband about that case recently.

    I sent the cheque. $500.00. it was cleared. I NEVER received any acknowledgement from Roxanne Gibbs.

    God knows where it went to but my conscience is clear that I did my part.

  41. born and bred

    Did you expect that there was going to be any difference under the DLP. Same horse — different colour.

  42. J

    Dear BFP you wrote “How is it that our country is BILLIONS in debt, yet thousands of our citizens lack clean, reliable water supplies?”

    Where are these thousands of citizens who lack clean, reliable water supplies?

    Name villages Barbados Free Press

    Or shut up.

  43. akabozik

    J must live in Bridgetown or does she still live on the island anymore? Water as been “iffy” every morning for five years at Malvern and north of Bathsheba too at my brother’s home.

  44. J

    I am right here aka. Here in Barbados, and not in Bridgetown.

    I ain’t going nowhere.

    The people in Malvern and north of Bathsheba have to get on their MP’s case.

    And even if your water supply is iffy/unreliable. I am sure that it is clean. Isn’t it?

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  46. I remember asking who took the picture and it was The Nation.
    I am now asking, where are the neighbors, the community. Surely there must be somebody willing to help.
    I also wonder if all the religious people attending services are missing the message given.

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