BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – HE needs your help! Yes, he urgently needs your help to not only assist in financing his trip to Cuba, but also in your prayers for success in his quest for remedial treatment by medical experts in the Spanish-speaking country.
I am talking about Corporal Joseph Bergan of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force, who was shot in the neck by a masked individual dressed in dark clothing on Friday, December 2, 2005.
The incident occurred at Newton’s Supermarket in Lodge Village while Bergan was tasked with providing escort services to one of CEMACO’s delivery trucks at a time when security had to be heightened as criminals were targeting certain business entities.
The gunshot injury caused him to be unconscious for a couple of weeks. However, on regaining consciousness, he could not have voluntarily moved various parts of his body and a decision was taken to have him flown to Trinidad and Tobago for advance medical treatment in mid-December 2005.
He returned to St. Kitts on March 23, 2006 and there was some degree of improvement – there was movement on the left side of his body but the right had remained unresponsive to his efforts.
In a sit-down interview with SKNVibes, the partially paralysed father of two said: “Since the unfortunate incident my life has changed instantaneously, but despite my everyday challenges, tribulations and triumph, it wasn't easy and still not easy keeping up with the day-to-day routine and normalities. But I am not discouraged!”
Reflecting on the time when he regained consciousness, Bergan said despite being bed-ridden and told by doctors that he was paralysed from his neck downwards and that he would be a vegetable, he was confident that God would play a very important role in his life.
“In spite of the doctors’ predictions, I always felt confident that the greatest physician, the Father above, will lay his blessed hands upon me. With my strong faith and belief in Him, I felt motivated and remained steadfast and resilient. I knew that one day I will get out of bed unaided.
“Today, I am able to do just that! Thank you Lord, for where medical science and technologies have failed your light has shown through. You are merciful and I shall be grateful all the days of my life.”
After that first miracle, Bergan had still needed assistance to become mobile, hence the use of a wheelchair and a walker.
However, a second miracle occurred.
He began to walk but with the aid of a cane, which still to date remains a slow process because of paralysis to his right side. This limitation, however, does not prevent him from going to church, attending military functions and conducting personal business.
Prior to the second miracle, the Army Corporal was twice offered opportunities to seek remedial treatment overseas; firstly, at the Amory Medical University in Atlanta, Georgia in 2008, and secondly at the Thomas Jefferson General Hospital in Delaware in 2012. But he was unable to accept due to the unavailability of funds.
While many of us might have been disappointed and become despondent, Bergan did not.
And as he declared, “God knows best and He watches over his children. I had and still place a lot of faith in Him, but faith without works is dead. So, I had decided to help myself by conducting a number of researches and I learned that assistance could be had from the International Center of Neurological Restoration in Havana, Cuba.
“In September 2015, I received a correspondence from the Center which indicated that I would be accepted for treatment in that country.”
Bergan explained that on his first week in Cuba, the doctors would evaluate his condition to determine the way forward, following which he would have to remain at the medical facility for a three to six-month period at a cost between US$20,000 and US$25,000.
He further explained that he had recently visited the Cuban Embassy in Basseterre and his flight was booked for Saturday (July 30).
“I went to the Cuban Embassy on Friday to finalise my appointment with the International Center of Neurological Restoration and two tickets were purchased at a cost of EC$9,318.00. The other ticket is for Hance Richards who will be accompanying me.”
Bergan, who is also a calypsonian and goes by the moniker ‘Navigator’, stated that after receiving the good news from Cuba, he got together with a four-member committee - Larry Armony, Daryl Lloyd, Melroy Henry and Dorothy Caines – to raise funds for his rehabilitation venture.
He explained that the fundraiser, dubbed “The Awesome Navigator Calypso Review and Journey for Physical Rehabilitation Progress”, was held on Friday, January 22, 2016 with Unoma Allen and Carlton Dupont as Emcees.
“The fundraiser,” he said, “was very successful and we were able to accumulate EC$13,119.37.”
For that activity, Navigator extended his gratitude to all the calypsonians who participated, patrons and especially the sponsors.
“I Joseph Bergan will like to take this opportunity to extend gratitude and appreciation to the National Carnival Committee; Culture Department; FLOW; Carib Brewery; Bottling Company; St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force; Glenson Hobson Catering Services; Department of Health, Park and Beaches; Public Works; St. Kitts-Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities; Island Purified Water; Dupont Jewelry; St Kitts Auto Services; Dwyer Astaphan; Richards Caines; Regiwell Francis; Willmon McCall; and Vemon ‘Jah 2’ Wattley.”
He also extended gratitude to the Grand Masters Band, Legends Band and David Blake Sound System for providing musical accompaniment; 102.5 Kyss FM, 106.5 Freedom FM, 98.9 Winn FM, 90.3 FM Sugar City, 96.1 FM ZIZ and VON Radio for advertising the event; and Lester and Beverly Ible, Curvis Jeffers, Lornette Lawrence and Sharolie Bergan for their voluntary services.
Corporal Joseph ‘Navigator’ Bergan is of the strong view that he would be able to return to active duty in serving his country; he believes that he would be able to run and play with his two children; he also believes that God would guide the hands of those medical experts in Cuba; but all of these beliefs can only be realised if we contribute financially.
Therefore, SKNVibes joins with those who love, empathise and want to see the 40-year-old once again as a physically active husband, father, soldier and calypsonian, in a call for all citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis to contribute to this worthy cause.
For contributions, Bergan can be reached at (869) 664-3429 or you can make a deposit, however small, at the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Bank to account number 122303105.