On Thursday, 30th November 2023, the official opening ceremony of the Disability Africa's Inclusion Centre took place in Gunjur. The opening ceremony was attended by many distinguished guests, including the members of the local council of elders, and representatives of charities and disability organisations.
The Inclusion Centre, which had been in the planning since 2011, is a key part of Disability Africa's mission to enable disabled children to live as normal a life as possible by including them in the community. The Centre is designed to provide a safe and comfortable environment for disabled children to learn, grow, and develop in.
The opening ceremony included speeches from the members of the local community and one of the Patrons of Disability Africa. The ceremony was a huge success and was met with much joy and optimism from guests and community members alike. The opening of the Inclusion Centre marks the start of a new era of inclusion and opportunities in life for these young people in the community.
After years of construction and setbacks, the grand opening of the building was finally ready to take place. Despite the struggles of fixing the roof and the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the building was finally finished and ready to be used. On the day of the opening, a large crowd gathered to celebrate the completion of the building and to witness its opening. As the ribbon was cut, the crowd erupted in cheers and the building was officially open.
Director of Disability Africa in The Gambia, Lamin Touray who facilitated the event, began by introducing the representatives present and thanking them for their hard work and dedication to the cause. He thenwent on to recount the history of the organisation, Disability Africa, and how it has helped the people of Gunjur with the provision of disability-friendly infrastructure, education and employment opportunities.
He explained how Disability Africa had worked with schools and families to create a more inclusive environment, where people of all abilities had access to the same services and amenities at the purpose built Inclusion Centre.
The Director further spoke of the impact Disability Africa had had in Gunjur, and how it had transformed the lives of those affected by disability. He spoke of how the organisation had helped to break down the stigma surrounding disability, and had helped to create a more inclusive and understanding society.
Mr Touray then thanked the representatives for their hard work and dedication, and concluded by expressing his hope that, together, they would continue to work to create a more inclusive society for people of all abilities.
At the end of the speeches, all attendees felt that they had gained a greater understanding of the work of Disability Africa and the positive impact that it had had on Gunjur. They thanked Disability Africa and the representatives for their insights and dedication to the cause, and looked forward to continuing to work together to create a more inclusive society.
The mother of one of the disabled children was brought on stage as well to speak about her experiences with the inclusion centre. She said that it helped her to have this kind of help and that she would like to see less prejudgement about the inclusion centre. She empowered all of the parents of Gunjur and elsewhere who have one or more disabled children to not hide it from the outer world behind the walls of the compound but to accept the help that organisations like disability Africa are offering.
Disability Africa works with communities to "explore causes which exclude disabled young people. To challenge conventional attitudes and practice to inform, inspire and deliver change because we believe that an approach that includes disabled children will be better for all children." The charity operates in The Gambia, Kenya, Zambia, and Sierra Leone.