By LESLEY SANGA
It started some years ago with Ali Barnabas' passion to form an association to look after young people with a hearing disability.
Barnabas, 38, is now the president of the newly formed Solomon Islands Deaf Association (SIDA).
Last week, the Solomon Star caught up with Ali to chat about SIDA, during which he shared his story.
“Whenever I saw deaf people, I shed tears because I know the young man or woman needs education.
“And this is the driving force behind the establishment of SIDA a few years ago.
“Every deaf people in this country deserve the same education just like everyone else.
“We need to experience the world everyone else is enjoying.
“Some years back, I thought that we the deaf people have no future like others.
“We were keeping out from some of the activities others continue to enjoy due to our disability.”
Barnabas said he watched this silently and when he grew up, he wanted to change history and to show everyone else that they too can do it.
“I went to Red Cross school and started my journey in education.
“From there I went to a school for deaf people in Makira province and later went to San Isidro Centre in northwest Guadalcanal.
“After I left San Isidro Centre with my other five friends, we saw that we had nothing to do further.
“So we sat down, discussed and agreed to form an association to find ways to help all the deaf people in this country.
“We made that decision and pursued to register it and in 2014 our plan came into place. We registered the association.”
Barnabas said their aim is that all those with hearing disabilities in this country become members of the group so that they can work together for the benefit of everyone.
He added that when they came under that body, life started to become easier as we find ways for them to attend more training that will grow their knowledge and do things to make a difference in their lives.
“I went to attend more training outside and this is where I want for my other colleagues.
“What I want most for my colleagues is to learn sign language. I want other mute colleagues to learn about sign language so that it will be easier for communication.
“We will continue to make contacts with other stakeholders and organisations to organise more training for our members.
“I am so happy that this association has been registered. This is what I have been dreaming about for so long in my heart.”
Last week more than 20 members in Honiara attended a three-day sexual reproductive training.
This was funded by the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA).
Ben Ango, Executive Director of SIPPA, said that they were happy to sponsor the training because it helps improve the knowledge of these people with special need to know how to prevent themselves from getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other diseases that transmit through sex.
“These people are human beings and they will also have sexual urges as others do but their safety is of paramount importance.
“So we are happy to support this training.”
Interpreter and Public Relation of Solomon Islands Deaf Association (SIDA), Lovelyn Kwaoga said it was the first ever training for such people.
“During this training we have found out that they really enjoyed it,” Kwaoga said.
She said that they learn about how to use condoms and other safety measures when having sex.
“They are humans and they too will want to have sex and therefore, we must train them on their safety.”
SIDA president Barnabas said he was pleased to see the participants undergoing the training.
“This is the first ever and it really opens our eyes on what to do and not to do as protection measures.
“I would like to thank SIPPA for this support towards us and we value their support.”
Barnabas added that this is just the beginning and they want to organise more of such training for their members.
“We never heard of such training before but now it’s a new dawn for us to see what everyone else has been enjoying.”
Barnabas is married, and his wife is also a person with a hearing disability.