Dun­not­tar cries out for help but few are lis­ten­ing!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Toni Ni­cholas he moral test of govern­ment is how that govern­ment treats those who are in the dawn of life, the chil­dren; those who are in the twi­light of life, the el­derly; those who are in the shad­ows of life; the sick, the needy and the hand­i­capped. Last Speech of Hu­bert H. Humphrey - 38th Vice Pres­i­dent of the United States un­der Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son

Two lo­cally tele­vised items re­minded me on Wed­nes­day evening of the man who had signed the Civil Rights Bill into law, and his vice pres­i­dent. The first was a re­port by DBS’ Alex Bous­quet about a wheel­chair-bound el­derly ci­ti­zen sud­denly ren­dered home­less. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of one of our homes for the el­derly had claimed his par­tic­u­lar in­sti­tu­tion was ill-equipped to deal with the dis­abled so By­ron found him­self on the street beg­ging for hand­outs; an­other statis­tic; one of an es­ca­lat­ing pop­u­la­tion of va­grants, al­co­holics, and men­tally dam­aged drug ad­dicts and men­tally dis­turbed in­di­vid­u­als to be seen through­out the city, be­yond sal­va­tion by STEP, NICE and PROUD.

The other news item cen­tred on the Dun­not­tar School at La Panse. This in­sti­tu­tion was de­signed to cater for chil­dren and oth­ers up to 25 years old with spe­cial needs, in­clud­ing dis­abil­i­ties such as Downs Syn­drome and Autism. For years there has been talk of a new home for the school. Ter­mites, mould and rats share the cur­rent, once at­trac­tive fa­cil­ity. This week the school’s oper­a­tors sought a union’s ad­vice.

The St Lu­cia As­so­ci­a­tion for peo­ple with De­vel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties (SLADD) op­er­ates the Dun­not­tar School, es­tab­lished in 1973. Teach­ers’ salaries are paid by the govern­ment which has re­spon­si­bil­ity for pro­vid­ing the school with an an­nual sub­ven­tion of EC$30,000 to cover all other ex­penses in­clud­ing teach­ing aids and util­i­ties. Over the years, how­ever, the school has ap­pealed for more as­sis­tance and more con­ducive premises for the in­creas­ing num­ber of chil­dren in need. Sadly, frus­tra­tion has forced some par­ents to give up on their af­flicted chil­dren.

SLAAD’s pres­i­dent, Rhory McNa­mara, told the STAR on Fri­day that two re­ports from the Min­istry of Health and the Min­istry of In­fra­struc­ture have ef­fec­tively de­clared Dun­not­tar un­fit for hu­man habi­ta­tion. “So what has hap­pened is that the build­ing has been con­demned,” he said, “and we are hop­ing that by Fe­bru­ary 15 we’ll be able to move to an­other lo­ca­tion, al­beit tem­po­rar­ily.”

As for long promised lands at Union for a new school, McNa­mara said: “With the way things are go­ing, we don’t see this hap­pen­ing any time soon, so we are now try­ing to get the land placed in the name of SLAAD, which would al­low us to go out and source fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of a new school.”

So much for the Spe­cial Olympic team be­ing cel­e­brated last year for be­ing vic­to­ri­ous at the in­ter­na­tional games. So much too for those spe­cial needs chil­dren be­ing made to feel spe­cial once a year - at Christ­mas time - with a party at the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence.

The con­cept of a “new” fa­cil­ity for the Dun­not­tar School is an all too fa­mil­iar story - rem­i­nis­cent of the Boys Train­ing Cen­tre at Mas­sade where some of the worst hor­ror sto­ries of our times have oc­curred.

And what about the shel­ters for bat­tered women and girls, the safe houses . . . need we say more? Do we re­ally care about the dis­en­fran­chised among us?

It is hard enough be­ing able-bod­ied and still go­ing through the rigours of life

On Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 1, 2016 a post mortem was con­ducted on the body of 42-year-old Syana Mathurin of Del­cer, Choiseul.

The ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed that she died as a re­sult of blunt force chest trauma.

The Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force, on Jan­uary 25, had is­sued an ap­peal to the pub­lic for as­sis­tance in lo­cat­ing Mathurin af­ter fam­ily mem­bers re­ported that she had gone miss­ing. She was last seen alive on Satur­day, Jan­uary 23 in the Del­cer area.

On Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 27, 2016 about 3:40 p.m. her partly de­com­posed body was dis­cov­ered sus­pended on a cliff in Moolas, Choiseul. She was pro­nounced dead on the scene by a med­i­cal doc­tor.

They are among the for­got­ten ones in our so­ci­ety even though once a year they are feted by the prime min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia

at the an­nual spe­cial needs Christ­mas party.

The build­ing that once housed the Dun­not­tar school at La Panse

was this week con­demned and the stu­dents sent home.

Syana Mathurin

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