FROM BEGGAR TO BUSINESSMAN: HOW AN AMPUTEE TURNED HIS LIFE AROUND By Devina Samaroo

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What would you do if you were forced to amputate a
leg?
For a 44-year-old father of three, the journey went
from begging to successful entrepreneurship, and all it took him
was an idea and loads of patience!
Richard Muchette grew up in Anna Regina on the Essequibo
Coast, where he continues to live and ply his unique trade –
making and selling beautifully chiseled wooden toys.
Since he was a little kid, he was drawn to saws and
hammers. “Me grow up with them,” he said, and when he grew
to adulthood, it was no surprise that he became a carpenter.
With that burning passion for woodworking, a young Richard
used to handcraft makeshift toy cars from any scrap wood he
could find.
“It never used to be neat or so,” he explained. Richard
believes he was born with the talent to create the toys, as no
one ever taught him how to do it. As he got older, that hobby
faded as he focused on more important things in life, like his job
and family.
But some six years ago, Richard and his wife separated and
he became a single father of three young boys. It was tough, but
he was getting by quite well, raising his sons alone.
Two years later, however, tragedy struck. Richard encountered
what he initially thought was a small workplace accident. He
stepped on a nail which caused some minor injuries to his right
foot.
But then he was hospitalized for close to three weeks and
his leg was not healing. In fact, it was getting worse. He made a
tough call to self-discharge and visit a hospital in the city, where
he was faced with awful news.
Doctors told him that he needed to have his leg amputated,
as the infection was going to spread throughout his body.
Though hesitant, Richard approved the amputation surgery,
even without a plan of how he will continue to work to take
care of his family.
The next two years were filled with much turbulence. Richard
was jobless and resorted to begging in the markets. “People used
to help meh ‘cause they see I had one leg,” he explained. But it
wasn’t the very best of circumstances.
“It was hard for me,” he recalled, explaining that it caused a
lot of physical pain to move around short of one limb.
It was also a dreary and hopeless period for
him. “Whole day meh deh pon the bed and me
ah get more sick and like the day nah done,” he
explained.
One day, he decided to make a wooden toy
for his youngest son, just like the ones he made
when he was a kid. After carving out the miniature
vehicle, Richard decided to take things up a notch
and paint it.
Little did he know that it was going to explode
into a full-flown business. One of his friends saw
the toy and loved it, and posted it onto the social
media app, WhatsApp.
Persons on his friend’s ‘friends list’ fell in love
with the concept, and so the demand grew.
Not only does Richard feel happy no longer
having to beg to get by, but making these toys has
brought meaning back into his life.
FROM BEGGAR TO
BUSINESSMAN:
HOW AN AMPUTEE TURNED
HIS LIFE AROUND
By Devina Samaroo
42 Guyana Inc. 35th Edition
“When me start mek them things, me ah quarrel
afternoon time when the day done, cause me enjoy it.
The day ah done too fast,” he remarked.
It’s no easy work making the toys and it takes a lot of
patience. Richard can take as long as two weeks to create
just one toy, working all day long.
“Me ah plait me foot like ah pandit and sit down on
a pillow and work whole day,” he explained, noting that
sometimes he skips lunch because he is so engrossed in
his work.
His toys attract various prices, but Richard tries to
keep them affordable even though he believes the cost of
patience is priceless.
The most one would pay for these beautiful pieces
would be $15,000, but Richard says his customers don’t
complain because they understand and appreciate the
time and precision put into making the items.
He rarely makes toys based on orders. He has done so
in the past, but customers never came to collect what they
would have ordered. Richard prefers to keep a stocked
inventory and engage in the traditional practice of selling
his goods.
He one day hopes to pass down his skill to his sons,
but he laments that not everyone has the patience to invest
into this trade.
“If me ask them boys to take this sandpaper and help
me sand this tractor, them gon sit down about five minutes
and after that, they gone. Them nah got the patience to sit
down whole day like me,” he bemoaned.
He explained that even his carpenter friends have
remarked that they can build an entire house but they do
not have the patience to make one of those toys.
Though he is very much satisfied with life now and the
‘empire’ he has built for himself, Richard misses his days
of being able to move around freely.
“When you been ah get two foot, you used to move
around and now you got one foot, you can’t. Like if you
want go road, you jump on a bicycle and go, and now if
me want go road, me can’t do that,” he expressed.
Richard, nevertheless, accepts that everyone has a
purpose in life, and he believes that his is to make toys
that will bring smiles to the faces of children.

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