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Hart House: A Constant Challenge

Jul 29, 2008, 1:00 PM | Article By: By Augustine Kanjia

Gambian Home for Children with Learning Difficulties other wise known as the Hart House got its first two of children on October 2000. Their intention is to help children with learning difficulties become useful in society. The Hart House founded and run by Mr. Geoff Hunwicks, the Chief Executive Officer and Rohey Hunwicks, Managing Director and wife of the CEO, are bent on helping these needy children but would only work with the assistance of the community and parastatals or individuals that can make a difference. Hunwicks had sold his family house in England only to build the Hart House for the needy in The Gambia. All his resources cannot let the house run for the whole time without the support of those who have humanity at heart. With sixteen children now at the Hart House, the demand on the director and CEO is mounting daily. Some normal children are invited to come and spend a day with them for easy adaptation into society when the kids leave the House. Augustine Kanjia finds out how they have going through difficulties for Gambian kids with learning difficulties and how they still stand in need as ever waiting for your assistance.

S&D: How did it all start Geoff?

Geoff: Well, I had been in similar houses and worked in them especially in Jerusalem, and when I retired as a teacher I decided to come to The Gambia to set up a similar thing for the many children with learning disabilities.

S&D: When did it start?

Geoff: The first two children came in October 2000, one of them was the plumber's child and one was from Latrikunda. I initiated the project with my wife, with the involvement of some good Gambians. I bought the land and built the structure.

S&D: Where did you get the money from for this laudable project?

Geoff: I actually sold my family house in England, my parent's house. This was my profession before here. I was a volunteer in Jerusalem and I thought I should start such a House not thinking of the difficulties involved. I got everything from my house in the UK to here and I had to fight hard again to get the things from the port in Banjul.

S&D: Why did you decide to set the Hart House in The Gambia?

Geoff: It is to help the very needy in society to realize that they belong and that they are not useless, and above all to compliment government's effort. There are 16 children resident and 5 Day Care all with learning difficulties. It is mostly due to cerebral malaria.

S&D: What is peculiar about these children?

Geoff: Well, their chronological age does not correspond to their behaviour and some have epilepsy etc. as well but they are good children. We do physiotherapy for those who are physically handicap. We take them to RVTH for further physiotherapy at Banjul.

S&D: How do you approach these kids?

Geoff: We access them "holistically," in self help areas, motor areas, these are; how to use their limps, socialize - how to deal with their friends, communication areas; we improve their comprehension and vocabulary. I like the area where the fundamental skills was in place where you teach them to lace their shoes, brush their teeth as many can't do it. We have volunteers to help out as well. We do physical activities and sign language.

S&D: Do you take fees from the families who bring in their children?

Geoff: We don't charge families it is free but if any family can offer anything to support the kids it would be more than welcome. There is a need to support the Hart House. Charging them to pay would make half of the children not to come. We have children with disability whose parents, either one of them had abandoned the home and the disabled child is left to suffer.

S&D: Is it only disabled children that comes to the Hart House?

Geoff: Fortunately, normal kids sometimes join them in their activities so that when they integrate they would be free with each other and they would have accepted each other.

S&D: What is Hart House?

Geoff: Hart House is The Gambian Home for Children with Learning Difficulties. It is a charitable organization. It is non-profit, religious, racial, tribal and non political. This project was initiated in 2001 by me - Geoff Hunwicks, a British national and I have many years of experience with such children.

S&D: How could people help the Hart House, especially partners in development and philanthropists?

Geoff: We regard our partners as people with love and sympathy for the welfare of humanity. We appreciate the many ways in which they can help.

Voluntary: (short/long term) you can spend some of your time in our home to help the children.

Sponsorship: Institutions/organizations/individuals you are assured that contributions will go to what they are intended for.

Donations: Cash learning materials, office equipment etc. all types of donations are very much appreciated.

Fund raising: Why not? If you decide to do so you are also participating in the improvement of the GHCLD.

Your skills: If you feel you have some skills that you would like to share with us to improve the standard of the home please join us.

Internet: You can register as a sponsor or donor through our email address. We will keep you informed through our newsletters.

Corporate Partnership:  The home being the first of its kind in The Gambia, working to the needs of the people, your partnership in this venture, investing in such vulnerable children, is very essential.

It is nice to see development if everyone helps. A little help brings a great difference.

Glenda Birse, the wife of the Deputy High Commissioner from Britain to The Gambia, a member of the AlderwoodLLA, a charitable organization in the UK, has expressed concern over the Hart House and called it a good venture to helping others in need. "We all need to join hands to help this venture that is meant to help mankind. I shall help in my own way to get others involved. The Hose need a constant assistance because it is a constant challenge."

S&D: Have you any address people could contact you on, incase they want to volunteer or donate something for the House?

Geoff: They can always contact the following number and address.

Gambia Hart House - The Gambia Home for Children With Disabilities

P. O. Box 2713


The Gambia

West Africa

Tel: (00220) 9926258

Email: (geoffharth102@hotmail.com)

Website: (www.harthouse.gm)