By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Marly Foundation on Thursday launched the welfare of children with Down syndrome association in The Gambia at a local hotel in Kololi.
The foundation said the goal of the foundation is to support children with special needs including children with learning difficulties, mobility problems and hearing difficulties.
“The children face socio-cultural exclusion due to the lack of services and facilities that are necessary for their wellbeing and dignity,” the foundation added.
Omar Mbakeh, representative, Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Welfare said, the establishment of the association is a noble one and timely.
He said the association could act as a coordinating, facilitating and enabling body of and for individuals, groups of persons, communities and organizations/institutions involved in helping people with Downs Syndrome.
Mr. Mbakeh assured his Ministry’s commitment to ensuring that all children in The Gambia live in supportive, protective and caring environments that enable them to develop to their full potential.
The Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Welfare’s representative called on individuals, philanthropists, communities, development partners and all others to support the association by mobilizing resources for them.
“The resources are needed to be able to reach out to all children that are affected across the country, particularly rural children who are more underprivileged. Many cannot come to where they are, but with resources they can go to them,” he said.
Binta Jobe, Director General, Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) said, children with special needs are the most vulnerable members of the society and yet suffer most in the hands of those very people that are meant to love, nurture, protect and care for them.
Speaking about the challenges the group face, Mrs. Jobe said that they are deprived of certain things, or marginalized due to the ignorance of the society.
Director General Jobe concluded by assuring Marly foundation of her support.
Also speaking, Pa Malick Ceesay, representative of National Youth Council (NYC) said, their line ministry would try all they could to help children with special needs, as they are also part of us.
He informed that the NYC in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports pledged D50, 000 for the foundation for a start to help the children.
Meanwhile, ST (Brikama Boyo), a popular Gambian musician also pledged D10, 000 for the association to help the needy; while politician MC Cham Jnr., aspirant for the Jeshwang constituency for the April parliamentary election donated D5, 000.
Down syndromeis a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome (trisomy 21). The condition causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities to the affected child or children.