Heeno International (HI) is honoured to be the main sponsor of the International Day of Sign Language and the International Week of the Deaf in The Gambia this year. On September 29, 2018, the bright colours and cheerful faces of more than 300 Gambians matched the joy of the occasion. They marched on dust, mud and tarmac for about three and a half kilometres from Westfied to Kanifing. The police band rammed their drums, clapped with metals and blew their saxophones and trumpets. What a bright, beautiful and happy day for the men and women of silence in their world of isolation!
They were the members of The Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who, most efficiently, organized the event and invited a band they could not hear the sound of. At first I asked myself why they invited a band, but then I realized that it was an excellent idea, for it was not the deaf who needed to hear, but the Gambians who could hear who needed to listen. A message was in the metals of the neatly uniformed young police men and women! The band looked and sounded good and the common citizens from all ethnic groups and religions in The Gambia looked even better!
As I watched them pass, in a video sent by Lamin Sanneh, HI's Human Resources and Logistics Manager, I asked myself whether the overwhelming majority of my compatriots, who could hear, did hear the sweet message conveyed by the police drums and metals, on behalf of our nation's deaf and hard of hearing. I asked myself whether the vast majority of my compatriots, who were not even aware of the event, did hear the message: "One Gambia, One People, One Nation!" I would not blame "the could nots", but would certainly blame "the would nots" if they did not hear the sweet message of that day and this week, echoing loud and clear: "One Gambia, One People, One Nation!"
CONFERENCE SPEECH REACHES A $1000 A COPY
Karamo NM Sonko
June 22, 2018
Last week another friend, the chief executive officer of an international institution, whom I had given a copy of my published "TafCon 2017" speech to, handed over a $1,000 (one thousand US dollars) to me.
I had earlier thought of deducting my cost of printing the speech (now fully recovered) from the sales of the publication and giving the profit to charity. This latest show of generosity has encouraged me to allocate all the proceeds (cost and profit) so far to The Gambia Disability Impact Trust Fund, an innovative and historic Fund for the benefit of disabled Gambian men and women, which my Foundation and the Taf Foundation are about to launch.
I am NOT special. However, my targeted beneficiaries in need and generous friends indeed are the ones who are very special! The speech is also special because it is an appeal to Gambians and the world to be one. Unless we see each other as one, divisions would destroy our nation and our world.
After many years of giving, I have now learnt from experience that the best way of using limited financial resources to help people is to focus on those with the greatest need and empower them. Success in empowering such people (like anyone else) depends on how reliable, industrious and resourceful they are.
Sophia Shane, HI's Representative in Canada and Website Manager has coordinated and participated in a visit to the Sheldridge elephant orphanage in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, on September 16, 2014. Sophia has gone as part of an Africa Oil delegation which took 33 investors, analysts and other business people from around the world to visit the elephants, in conjunction with visiting Africa Oil's projects. The Company will buy 33 copies of Daphne Sheldrick's autobiography, with the proceeds going to the orphanage. Africa Oil will also sponsor an elephant on behalf of each guest.
Sophia sponsored HI's Best Donkey Prize in Mauritania in 2013 is also the sponsor of a baby elephant at the orphanage called Teleki (named after Count Samuel Teleki who led the first expedition to penetrate the forest zone of Mount Kenya in 1887). Tekele was found all alone a couple of years ago, with a badly infected machete wound to the head; the rest of the elephant's family was killed by poachers. Tekele is doing well now and, as Sophia puts it, 'he is quite the rascal with his new adopted family'.
Africa Oil Corp. is a Canadian oil and gas company with assets in Kenya and Ethiopia as well as Puntland (Somalia) through its 45% equity interest in Horn Petroleum Corporation. Africa Oil's East African holdings are within a world-class exploration play fairway with a total gross land package in this prolific region in excess of 215,000 square kilometers. The East African Rift Basin system is one of the last of the great rift basins to be explored. The Company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ OMX-Stockholm under the symbol "AOI".
The Chairman of HI led a delegation of business men from North and West Africa, including Ahmed Mohamedou (HI's representative in Mauritania and Morocco), to South Africa from the 27th to the 29th of January, 2014. During their visit, they met high-ranking government officials in Pretoria and Johannesburg, including the Minister of Energy and the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources. They also met Mr Elias Masilela, Convenor and author of the 43 Trelawny Park Legacy project.
The delegation engaged with various South African businessmen and women, including representatives of the Black Business Council of South Africa. This mission was organized by BBM Inc., one of South Africa's top legal firms. The discussions focused on identifying various areas of business opportunity in South Africa and the rest of Africa, especially in the mining, telecommunications and energy sectors.
The Chairman also met the Deputy President of South Africa, His Excellency Kgalema Motlanthe, and proceeded to Cape Town from Johannesburg to attend the Mining Indaba, from February 2-6, where he was invited to the interactive lunch session hosted by Lord Robin Renwick of Clifton, Vice Chairman of J. P. Morgan, at the Mount Nelson Hotel on February 3rd.
Since November last year (2011), HI's Chairman has visited the UK, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan and several Gambian villages and held meetings with various parties. In the UK, he was invited to inaugurate WILLC (Worcester Islamic Library and Learning Centre) in Worcester on February 5th, a library on Islam which is open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. On February 27, 2012, he visited St. Richard's Hospice in Worcester, where he met the Chief Executive and Corporate Partnerships and Events Fundraiser. Last year (2012) alone St Richard's was reported to have helped over 2,300 patients with life threatening illnesses and their family members by providing care for them through many different services. In Ghana, the Chairman visited remote areas in the Western Region, about 500 kilometers from the capital Accra and was met by traditional rulers (Queen Mothers, a Paramount Chief and Chiefs) and other community leaders in two paramount chiefdoms. He was also met by the top management of Chirano Gold Mines, in Sefwi Chirano. In Egypt and Sudan, he met West African university students who are studying in various fields. In Sudan he had a meeting in the capital Khartoum with the Vice Chancellor and other managers of the International University of Africa, which provides education for 92 nationalities throughout the world.