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Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia

The Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia 2017 report concerning the Start Now project, Haddy's nursery school ( Yahaddy Nursery School ), the situation with GOVI, and other encouraging news.

It was so encouraging during 2017 to see the Start Now Project going from strength to strength with the guidance of Alieu Jaiteh, its Director and Founder, and Charles Gomez, the chairman. The Friends have funded the construction of the building as Start Now aims to assist the visually impaired in their further education. 

This includes training in daily skills such as the use of white canes which enables them to walk around with greater safety and confidence. There are also computer lessons which will help them to find employment. The six visually impaired students studying at the College of Further Education at Brikama often pop in for assistance or extra lessons as the Start Now building is nearby. 

Congratulations to all at Start Now for their hard work and dedication. The objective of Start Now is to empower blind and visually impaired people. Its website is: www.startnowgambia.org.



The first intake of children has taken place at Haddy’s nursery school even though the construction work there has not yet been completed.  The nursery is known as the Yahaddy Nursery School.

When we visited we found the classroom full of happy children busy learning and, at times, playing. The classroom furniture has been supplied by a Dutch lady. The email addresses for the school are: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Muhammed Kubally JP is now on the Brikama Bench and has also been appointed to the Children‘s Court. Several of the visually impaired students at the College of Further Education are aspiring to emulate his achievements.

During our visit in November and December we were approached by a maid at the place where we were staying. She told us that her daughter, Isatou, regularly came home from school crying because even if she sat right at the front of the classroom she could not see the writing on the blackboard. Her mother could not afford to take the time off to take her daughter to the Serrekunda Hospital for an eyesight examination.

As there was a private eye clinic nearby I arranged to take her there. Her sight examination was paid for by the Friends and she chose some smart frames for her glasses. Now she is a very happy young woman as she can see the blackboard. Maths is her best subject.

Our big disappointment was the situation at the GOVI school. The Friends were willing to pay for some decorating and some other small maintenance jobs there. Sadly, when we visited the school the Director, Mammout Touray, told us we were no longer welcome and that if we did not leave he would contact the Police.

The reason he gave was that the Friends have refused from day one to hand over money for projects. We pointed out that we have all the receipts and other documentation concerning all the work that Lamin Saidy has organised and overseen at the school. The Gambian Education department is aware of the current situation and action is being taken to resolve it.

You only have to look at the Friends website to see how much this charity has done for the school and for GOVI! GOVi is receiving a regular income from buildings that the Friends raised funds for (RugAid is based in one of those buildings).

We are encouraged that one of the results of the Friends involvement with the school is that there are now over 200 visually impaired children in mainstream school in The Gambia, and 29 teachers in the provinces of the country have been trained in how to teach and assist visually impaired children.

As the funds being received by this charity are still being used to help visually impaired and blind children in The Gambia it will not be closed down at present. Joan and I will continue to visit The Gambia and assist as and where necessary.

Our thanks to all of you who continue to support the Friends. I would like to thank fellow Trustee Pip Land and member Carol Haynes for their work on this website and for other advice given. To Lamin Saidy our Gambian member - thank you for your continued hard work and support.

Phil Feller