Letters & Opinion

What is the Status of People with Special Needs in Saint Lucia?

Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Independent Eye by Kensley Peter Charlemange

IN the era of running government as a business, one has to fear for the concerns of people with special needs. With President Donald Trump coming into office, a lot of assistance programmes are under threat, some of which will have severe and direct effects on Third World countries.

Already, the Blind Welfare Association is feeling the pinch and Catherine Sealys of Raise Your Voice is on a one-woman crusade to assist children with special needs. One has to ask: who is next? As the old creole saying goes, ‘lèbabvwoysinoupwidifé, ousésaou’.

Protecting the rights of people with disabilities cannot be a one-man or one-woman job. The whole society needs to get involved. As I stated in my two previous articles, you may be normal today but you can be hit with a disability tomorrow.

We are thankful for the several schools for special needs around the island. Quite a bit of ramps have been constructed to facilitate wheelchair access on our streets and sidewalks. There are some marked parking spots for disabled people which some of our drivers show no discretion for. There are often donations made by foreign charities to special needs.

As a people, though, we are yet to give due respect to people with disabilities.

I recall an incident of Angus being left to himself on the streets of Castries. One time I escorted a blind man to a taxi stand and when I got there, the driver who was next in line would not bother to offer his service. He was more concerned about engaging his friends in a game of dominoes.

I have a sister who has Down’s Syndrome and, lucky for her, she lives in Canada. My mother brought her here on vacation on a few occasions. Of course, one can see the marked difference in treatment given by people in a developed country and Third World country like ours. You can see the intolerance and experience the derogatory name-calling.

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities seems to have evaporated from the island. You hardly hear them in the news. One can only think that all is well with them but I rather think not. On Saturday, September 30, I plan to put the focus on people with special needs with a talent concert at the Alliance Francaise.

Of course, we are looking for talent to put on show, so if you are reading this and know of a person with special needs who paints, dances, sings or performs poetry whom I can highlight when PonmDamouKreations takes part in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change, do let me know. If you happen to be an artist and would like to perform to the theme, “A Look in the Mirror: Deference to the Differently-abled”, call or email PonmDamouKreations at 287-8484 or pdkreations@gmail.com.

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