The founder of a rural training centre for deaf youth in Solomon Islands is accusing the government of failing to address the country’s high rate of disability.
Performances of custom dances from George van der Sant’s students at the San Isidro Care Centre at Aruligo on Guadalcanal have been warmly received during the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts.
But Mr van der Sant says deaf people, especially in rural areas, are usually shunned by both their families and communities.
He says deafness is very common in Solomon Islands because of the high rate of malaria.
“Im sure there are thousands and thousands handicapped deaf in the Solomon Islands, and at the moment let me say the Red Cross had to do a little bit at a small school here in Honiara; outside Honiara not anyone [is] doing it.”
George van der Sant says his centre does not receive any government assistance and no one from the government has ever visited it.