The Free Internet Cafe for the Blind & Visually Impaired, the first in the whole of Africa, which opens the World Wide Web, making The Gambia a leading light in Africa, with this technology by allowing free and total access to surf the net send and receive emails and for students to enhace their studies with the aid of this pioneering software. No more do they need to rely on a third party to read to them newspapers, magazines, books, letters and world wide information. Kingfisher - The Story Page 2

Gambian leader says thank-you to Kingfisher Trust. H.E the President says thank-you to Kingfisher Trust . 

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inhabitants every day and provides a vital life source. with on electricity, let alone fridges, food has to be bought fresh each day.

But it represents much more than just the day to day grind of buying and selling. it is also the social centre of the village, where friends meet to chat and pass the time of day, marriages are arranged and new friend introduced. But for little Aminata it is an area she shuns, embarrassed to be seen in public because of her deformed ear, and afraid of the taunts she may receive.

if she continues to avoid such a focal point of village life it will ultimately leave the tiny six-year-old with a bleak and difficult future.

she faces being ostracised with no job or marriage prospects simply because she cannot get a delicate operation performed regularly in the UK. Aminata, whose parents are both charity workers, was born with a deformity which has left her without an earhole, even though beneath the skins surface lies a perfectly formed "ear"

Her mother, Mama, says she is unwilling to go out and join in traditional village life-because of the taunts and teasing she receives not only from her own peers, but even from uneducated adults..

She said: "I cry when .her older sister comes home and tells me how She has been .treated. .She does not want to go out. alone any more. She is losing her independence.

"I worry what will happen to her." Isolation in such a social and hospitable culture is something every parent in Africa fears. Human contact is woven into the-very fibre of African society :and without it a child could soon find herself marginalised and an outcast

Religion — more than 80 per cent of the country is Muslim — also involves close human -contact. Prayers are said five times .a. day.., and it, is: considered better to pray in company .than individually — hence the abundance of small mosques or prayer rooms at markets. The bonds of the extended family are 'much stronger than most. Europeans can appreciate, with distant cousins being considered true brothers and sisters. Consequently, in a land where unemployment is high, jobs are found and kept through family and personal connections.

Without the ability to hear and communicate properly little Aminata Sawaneh will face a nearly impossible struggle to become part of the community and improve her life.

It is a battle that hundreds face each year and only a handful of lucky ones, often with. outside help, win.


AMINATA sits in the corner diligently reciting Baa, Baa, Black sheep with the rest of her class. she has placed herself at the back of the room, her deformed ear carefully positioned next to the wall and hidden away from sight.

A young African teacher stands in front of the class, and as he slowly raises his hands the class stop chanting. Put your hand on your head," he tells them forty-two pairs of hands fly upwards.

Aminata is a fraction behind the rest she copies their movements but has obviously not heard the command. Her teacher looks concerned.

"I am worried about her learning," says 21-year-old. Ebrima Ceesay. when you talk to her, you have to come right up close or sit with her she can not repeat things to my satisfaction and is falling behind the rest of the class. she is the right age to have help now, but if she gets any older it will be very difficult."

in a country where nearly all of the teaching is done by listening and repeating, Aminata's problems are made even more acute.

she is not able to refer to a text book to help her with the learning process, because of limited school resources.

with eight native African languages, including mandinka, fula, wollof and jola, the need to learn English is paramount. The local tongues are extremely diverse and Africans themselves are normally able to speak only or two fluently.

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