Gambian Women & Children Deaf Society Projects
Unit classrooms for deaf children at St Joseph’s Lower Basic (Primary) School, Basse and at Essau Lower Basic (Primary) School.
The Unit for deaf children at St Joseph’s LB School was founded in 2012. Before this there was no educational provision for deaf children at all in the Upper River Region of Gambia. St Joseph’s started with 7 deaf children and one teacher of the deaf, working in a spare classroom in the LB School and was the first Unit of its kind in Gambia. It was an immediate success with several deaf children attaining surprisingly good educational results despite their lack of previous educational opportunity. All were keen to learn and further deaf children were found or came forward and, as numbers increased, more classroom accommodation was needed.
Following the example set by the establishment of the Unit at St Joseph’s LB School in Basse, a similar need was identified on the north bank of the river Gambia, at Essau. Staff were recruited and funded and Be Global Foundation were approached and again generously funded the construction of a similar four-classroom teaching block in the grounds of Essau Lower Basic School in 2018. Once again, the classrooms have been built to a high standard and this has helped improve the quality of the educational experience for the deaf children.
Solar powered water supply for St John’s School for the Deaf
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the water supply from the borehole at St John’s School for the Deaf had become unreliable. With more than 270 pupils this was very concerning and Be Global Foundation agreed to fund an upgrade with a new submersible solar powered water pump plus a larger storage tank on a supporting framework to give a good head of water for distribution within the school. As there was concern that Covid could be spread by touch and contact, they also agreed to purchase four sinks in which the water supply was controlled by foot levers rather than conventional taps. These improvements have greatly helped and have also kept Covid infections to a minimum.
Tulkuya Signs Restaurant
This special restaurant was founded and managed by remarkable deaf women Binta Badjie. She is a sign language user herself and the restaurant only employs deaf ladies in all the roles – cooks, waitresses, staff etc. Often, deaf ladies find it hard to find employment and this special restaurant provides that opportunity and training in the various roles involved. Although successful for some time, the Covid pandemic in 2020 immediately impacted on their visitor numbers and consequently their income. It looked as though they may have to close for good as the rent for the premises was due, yet they had no income to meet that cost. Be Global Foundation generously stepped in and paid the rent, enabling the restaurant to reopen and continue their good work. Sadly, a road widening scheme has reduced their outdoor seating area and income has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels and staffing levels have been reduced to reduce costs. It is hoped this situation will improve soon.
Menstrual Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Training for Teenage Deaf Girls
Deaf girls frequently miss out on aspects of education and experience that other girls with normal hearing receive at school or incidentally. Binta Badjie, a deaf woman herself, has worked tirelessly to help provide equality of opportunity for deaf ladies and young people and has organized several courses for deaf girls looking at subjects such as sexual health and wellbeing which may otherwise be missed. Courses have included provision of medical products such as tampons and reusable menstrual pads. BGF have generously and thoughtfully provided funds to help with tuition fees, course costs, and purchase and/or manufacture of resources for these courses. At the last course, in March 2022, twenty deaf teenage girls attended.