A TENACIOUS 19-year-old ambassador for Disability Africa came back from a visit to The Gambia last month, rightly proud of the charity’s achievements.
Amie Humphries, who has lived in Knaphill all her life and has an undiagnosed neurological disability similar to cerebral palsy, has made it her mission to help others less fortunate than herself.
She explained: “In The Gambia and other developing countries, disabled people are not given the opportunities they should be. Most don’t get an education or work.
Amie, who touched down in the country with the charity’s director, Ric Law, said: “We were staying just outside a large village called Gunjur and one of the charity’s local co-ordinators, Ebrima Tamba (but known to all as ‘Jingle’) showed us around.
“We walked around a couple of times to get a feel for the place but I was stared at quite a lot. They’re just not used to seeing disabled people and don’t know how to react.”
Amie described the country’s tendency to ostracise them. She said: “A lot of disabled people just stay inside their compound and, in some families, are not allowed out. There is still very much an old-fashioned stigma attached, so no one is really aware of them.”
Disability Africa is a UK-based charity established just a couple of years ago, but with a big ambition. They are building a centre for disabled young people and children on an acre of land in The Gambia.
This will enable them to go out into the community and meet other people and get an education, as well as have their medical needs addressed. Driven by the cause, Amie went to many meetings during her week-long stay to advise on the needs of the disabled. She recommended changes that architects could make, often simple things taken for granted by the able-bodied, such as how a door opens, to make their lives much easier.
Amie, who is admirably mature for her years, also met the 15 volunteers. She said: “I gave a talk from my perspective with advice such as not to underestimate little achievements that other people take for granted, such as a disabled person feeding themselves, and to encourage them to join in and do things.”
Building has already started on the centre, which will cater for 40 to 50 disabled children a day. It is hoped it will be finished by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the volunteers are able to borrow a nursery school on
Saturdays for the children to go to.
The charity will also be trying to educate the community to accept and show that disabled people can do anything anyone else can. They aim to bring their attitude into the 21st century, starting in schools, then going on to women’s groups and broadening it to the wider community.
Amie, who has been working as a teaching assistant during her gap year and will be going to Kent University in September to study wildlife conservation, added: “I am hoping to go back to The Gambia when the new centre opens.”