Oct 21, 2009, 7:11 AM
A computer training centre for the blind was Saturday opened at a ceremony held at the centre in Brikama New Town by one Alieu Jaiteh.
The centre aims at proving to the public that the blind could also be part of the digital world hence the saying, “Disability does not mean inability”.
Alieu Jaiteh, a blind and founder of the centre named ‘Start Now’, said this was the first computer training institute for the blind and the visually impaired in the West Coast Region.
He said many people would doubt that a blind could use the computer, adding that he decided to put up the centre due to the difficulty he faced when he was going to school as a blind person.
In 2003, when he completed high school, he faced a lot of challenges in reading and writing due to his eye problem, he said, adding that his friends that used to come to him to seek help started running away because they thought it was now over for him.He added that he then started to think about what he could do for himself because all his dreams of becoming an accountant changed because he could not see.
Jaiteh said he then decided, together with his fellow visually impaired friends, to find solution to their problem, adding that the starting of the computer learning centre was very difficult for him because when “you start something new there are always skeptics doubting whether it would succeed”.
He said his passion and dream has always been how to empower the blind and the visually impaired people, adding that the institution was made possible thanks to their German friend who raised funds for them.
He said computer is a very important tool and if you want to connect blind people or include them in the society, computer is the fastest way of doing it.
Jaiteh added that whatever those with sight could do with computer the blind could also do, stating that the centre would promote self-reliance and confidence in the blind.
Christine Smith, their German partner, said when she was in contact with Alieu she knew he could do better.
She said she got money from blind people in Germany so that blind people in The Gambia could also have access to computer, saying that they then decided to renovate the office and furnish it with laptops.
Christine Smith said further that they had to look for ways of sustaining it by contributing a token to keep it going, adding that there is power, water and lot of things that need to be paid for.
This was a great dream, she said, adding that she was happy to see that they had realized the dream.
Dembo Kambi, representing the Governor, said everyone should know that every human being has the right to education since it is a fundamental human right. He said irrespective of physical challenge, computer literacy and information access is important to all. Mr Kambi said information technology avails many opportunities and solutions to issues of unemployment and underemployment among people with sight disability.
He said ICT creates a range of possibilities for the blind and there is need to create an enabling environment for the blind to achieve their goals.