By Madi S. Njie
Members of the Gambia Association of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) have called for unity among members and to work together towards achieving common objectives.
Speaking during events marking International Deaf Week Celebration, various GADHOH members expressed the need for unity among members, stop gossiping, backbiting, and work together, noting that division makes organisations fail.
Deaf Week is celebrated in the last week of September every year, but in The Gambia Deaf Week could not be celebrated as is supposed to due to organisational challenges.
“However, at GADHOH we take it upon ourselves to celebrate Deaf Week this year on 11th and 12th October, by holding a Congress and restructuring a GADHOH National Female Wing, which brings together representatives from each of the 12 GADHOH branches from all the regions of the country,” said Dodou Loum, Executive Director of GADHOH in a brief chat.
The Congress held on 11th October 2019 at the GADHOH headquarters brought together delegates from all the 12 GADHOH branches, in all regions of the country.
Ms Binta Badjie – graduate of the American International University was elected as the new GADHOH President, replacing Ms. Mariama Baldeh a student at the Gambia College.
Other elected Board Members includes: Muhammad Jaiteh- Vice President, Siaka Jammeh- Secretary, Binta Jammeh- Treasurer; Muhammad Janko, Momodou Jah, Ndey Ceesay, Fanta Gaye and Mariama Gomez are the ordinary Board Members.
The National Female Wing of the Gadhoh was also selected, comprising representatives from each of the 12 Gadhoh branches from various regions of The Gambia, during a meeting held on 12th October 2019 at the same venue.
Addressing the gathering, Isatou Sanyang, one time President GADHOH called for unity among deaf people and working together for the common good.
Mrs Sanyang said all the 12 GADHOH branches were represented during the Congress, and they are now selecting a female wing, in which each of the branches will be represented, to form the GADHOH National Female Wing, geared to strengthening their women empowerment advocacy activities.
She called on members to take up their responsibilities and not to consider the Board as GADHOH, noting that ordinary members are equally very important.
“Members are very important and need to work together,” she added. She noted that some members have problems in their marriages, but pointed out that they now have a law that states that divorced women should not be driven out of their marital homes.
She expressed the need for members to stop back-biting each other, and help each other and work for the common good.
She said she helped many girls to go through the GADHOH Skills Training Centre, who have got jobs but later quit their jobs, because of low pay scale, which she said does not tell well.
Binta Badjie,in what she call “advise of life changing wisdom” said “we are all born in different ways- some tall, some short, some black, some white; but we are beautiful because we are different.
“Some are short tempered and others forgive. We live in different places, but what brings us together is because we are a deaf community. If we want to develop, we have to unite. Today we the deaf people are having meeting not to discriminate men, because I am heading all GADHOH members. In my Presidency I will benefit all members.
“We have representatives from other regions because we are one deaf family, and we have to work together. We know each other and we should respect each other. Some are teachers, others are doctors, some drivers, etc., but we all complement each other. We are doing different works, yet we need each other. Hospitals operate in different areas, but all are working towards saving lives. Drivers can’t do the work of doctors, but they complement each other. Therefore we are all important. That is why every branch must have a representative in the GADHOH female wing. We want representatives from all regions to develop GADHOH,” she said.
Madam Badjie advised that representatives should not represent themselves in the communities, and should not keep knowledge gained to themselves, but to share with their members in their respective regions. She added that materials given to members should be shared equally, and that members should be ready to implement their plans.
She also noted that some boys do come to the centre to interrupt classes of girls, which is uncalled for. She called on those engaged on interrupting these classes to desist from such acts, because the girls come to learn, in order to be independent. She noted that some girls come and keep chatting till late and upon returning back home their parents beat them. She said girls come to the centre to learn to be independent, and should avoid depending on others who will have sex with them before giving them money. She also noted that some deaf people sit the whole day drinking ‘Attaya’ (green tea), when they should go and read their books, to benefit themselves.
She expressed the need for friends to be advising each other for the common good, adding that it takes nothing to advise a friend, other than offering words to change someone’s life for the better. She said one Omar used to come to her Restaurant sitting down chatting only, and she advised him to be doing something, and now Omar is engaged in buying and selling fish, to take care of himself.
She called on all to desist from gossiping or back-biting each other. “If you have a problem discuss with both persons, to be united,” she said; and called on the deaf girls to respect themselves if they want to work with others.
She noted that some girls are followed by boys because they dress and walk to impress them, and therefore call for change of attitudes. “You can be friendly, jovial, but we have to respect ourselves,” she said.
Other speakers include Binta Nyanado, one of the newly selected Female Wing Member and elected Board Member, Fatou Gaye and Mariama John. They all echoed the need for unity, work together and guide each other towards progress.
Mariama Baldeh outgoing GADHOH President who chaired the meeting, among others said “what we want is development of GADHOH, not gossiping and undermining each other,” and therefore called on all to unite and work together for common good.