Present at the ceremony were the Honourable Minister of Energy, Mr Fafa Sanyang, the President of the Gambia Federation of the Disabled, Mr Muhammad Krubally, and about 25 of his members, the Acting CEO of GIEPA, Mr Momodou Drammeh, CEO of Supersonicz Microfinance, Mr Njundu Fatty, Mr David Jeng of Bliss Executives and UNCTAD-EMPRETEC, and two former cabinet Ministers.
Also present were the Honourable Musa Sillah, Director for Africa and Latin America of the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Professor Ali Dawood from Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Professor Chang Yeun, also of Khalifa University.
Mr Krubally is the first and only vision impaired Gambian magistrate and he gave a very eloquent speech about the conditions, needs and abilities of the disabled. Dr Sonko made a presentation on disability, the origins and terms of the Fund, and the implications and importance of supporting the disabled. Several speakers from the floor, including Professor Chang, Mrs Adelaide Sosseh, former chairperson of EFA Campaign Network Gambia Chapter, and a speech impaired member of GFD, Mr Lamin Ceesay, made passionate and inspiring statements from the floor.
The MOU for the financing, management and operations of the Fund was signed by Heeno, Taf, GFD, GIEPA, and Bliss/EMPRETEC. About D100,000 was raised through the sale of Dr Sonko's The Gambia: Reflections on the Road Ahead, which was formally launched in his village of Sintet on July 6. Unemployed villagers, even those who have never been to school, scrambled for all the copies of the booklet taken to the village and voluntarily paid for them any price they could. They also committed to selling another 5,000 copies in order to raise D250,000 to set up a Village Development Fund to finance the education of their children and provide micro credit loans for the neediest among them.
In addition to the cash raised, a number of Gambian business men and women also offered scholarships, equipment and training for the disabled during the launching ceremony at Madiba Mall.