Charity chair thanks donors and shoppers for supporting schools for deaf Gambian children
PUBLISHED: 16:32 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 27 February 2018
Danny Loo Photography 2018
The chairman of a St Albans charity has thanked donors and shoppers for supporting schools for deaf children in Gambia and Kashmir.
Mohammed Akhtar has recently returned from a trip to visit two of the schools, which are partly funded by the Kashmir Deaf Children’s Trust (Kadect) and its two shops on Hatfield Road.
He said: “They are doing really, really well and the children are so happy. At one school, the children are now reading and writing as well as non-deaf children.
“Their success is because of all the people here in St Albans. They are what make it all happen so I want to say thank you to them.”
Mr Akhtar set up Kadect in 2002, after being born in Kashmir in northern Pakistan and having fathered a daughter who is deaf.
In 2004, he set up a school in Kashmir and it was only while he was on holiday in Gambia did Mr Akhtar realise the poverty the children had to live with.
Before Kadect, Gambia only had one school for deaf children in its capital, which restricted access for people living on the south side of the river which divides the country.
The charity’s trustees decided to open a school for Gambia’s deaf children in the town of Basse, south of the river, which has now been running for six years.
Mr Akhtar said: “Disabled children were kept in the house and not allowed to go out because there are no facilities. “So they are happier now as they have somewhere to go and learn. When I went they were thanking me for changing their lives which was really touching.”
The school is now funded by the government, however the charity continues to fund a trainee teacher and has gone on to open another school in the western town of Essau, on the other side of the river.
When Mr Akhtar travelled to Gambia in January, he brought letters which had been written by pupils from Heathlands School and the deaf students wrote back about their hopes and dreams for the future.
The two schools in Gambia and the two in Kashmir, the latest of which was opened in 2014, cater for around 30 children each and the charity wants to build accommodation for the pupils so they can stay nearby.
Kadect shops are located next to Tesco on Hatfield Road and opposite Fleetville Junior School.