Malcolm Garner, a teacher of the deaf from the UK, first visited The Gambia in January 2004 when, with a colleague, he drove a minibus from England to Gambia as part of the annual Plymouth to Banjul Challenge. The minibus was destined to be donated to the school for the blind in Serrekunda but as there was plenty of space available Malcolm collected and delivered a large quantity of hearing aids and other audiological equipment to the only school for the deaf in The Gambia – St John’s School for the Deaf in Serrekunda.
Malcolm was made very welcome and warmly thanked for his donation. However, through visiting the school and talking with the Head Teacher, Daniel Mendy, he realised that the provision of education to support deaf children was very limited. Although the school had about 150 pupils it was non-residential and only children from the surrounding urban area could attend on a regular basis. Deaf children elsewhere in Gambia received no support.
Equally of concern was the fact that no teacher in the school, or indeed in the whole of The Gambia, possessed a qualification in teaching the deaf, and there was no specialist training available in this field. As a result much of the auditory equipment delivered could not be used effectively.
As there were clearly limitations in the availability and quality of provision for deaf children Malcolm decided to try and make some improvement in this situation. Together with a group of fellow teachers of the deaf (initially Debra York, Jan Hughes & Ruth LeLohe), he established the Gambian Deaf Children Support Project and set out to provide practical in-country support.
Details of the many things that have happened since that first visit can be found in this website.