I was recently asked a series of questions about the work of Disability Africa by the Gambian Press. So just in case you don't get your Gambian daily . . .
The Gunjur Inclusion Project is on track for it's busiest year to date. Our Medical Support Programme continues to grow - We have an ever growing number of children who require medical treatment related to aspects of their impairment.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of our supporters at the Toy Trust, preparations are now underway to build our centre to support disabled young people in Gunjur, The Gambia. The images below document our progress to date:
Just one reason why the number of disabled children in African countries is so high.
There are disabled children everywhere in Africa; unknown, hidden and desperately deprived. Disability Africa works with people in African communities to develop awareness of the needs of disabled young people and provide services to meet those needs.
I had this Idea about two years ago; thought about it for a week and then shared the Idea with a few people - the ones I knew wouldn't think I was too crazy, and they rallied round to help set up a charity
We've written before about the need to end the isolation that many disabled young people experience. Disabled young people are usually not seen in public - many seldom leave their compounds and, in Gunjur, only a very few have ever been out of their village. So we were delighted when the suggestion came from the volunteer play staff that they wanted to take the children out on a trip to Brikama - the local market town. The whole event was great fun - even the novelty of a minibus ride was a highlight (as with all the best trips out!). The kids had a picnic, saw around the market and to end the day, paid an impromptu visit to the Governor of the West Coast Region who welcomed them all into his office to hear about the great work of the Gunjur Inclusion Project.
When it comes to providing services to disabled young people (it doesn’t matter where) attitude is everything.
Ok so the excitement is mounting! We are gearing up for World Disability Day this December 3rd! Emails are flying back and forth between The Gambia and UK as the final preparations take place. We are very proud to be bringing four disabled students from Stepping Stones school in the UK to Gunjur to deliver a presentation called "Same As Us". Their aim is to raise awareness of the issues faced by disabled young people all over the world and inspire the community in Gunjur to learn more about Inclusion.
They will be talking to audiences at the two main schools in Gunjur; to a support group for parents of disabled children and at the main event on World Disability Day. This will be a huge community event attended by lots of children and The Chief of Kombo South, His Excellency the British High Commissioner and all the Leaders and Elders of the Gunjur community.
In their presentation, the students will talk about what it is like to be disabled; how they would like to be treated and how they feel about the rights of disabled children worldwide.
We are confident that these students will do a lot to inspire the community to do more for disabled young people and will give a big boost to the profile of the "Gunjur Inclusion Project".
The first priority for disabled children in African countries, is to end their isolation.
I guess it will always be a shock when you walk into someone's home to find a member of the family starving to death.
I've recently returned from another week of meetings in Gunjur. Working with our partners Tarud. (Trust Agency for Rural Development), we are trying to raise awareness of the needs of disabled young people in the 25,000 strong community, and support the development of services which will improve their quality of life.
The natural desire to help in Africa has become almost fashionable, but should we think a bit more carefully before jumping in? I really like the ideas and ethics of this passionate plea from Dr Ernesto Sirolli here: