Our History

Why Start Now?

Start Now is founded by Alieu Jaiteh. Alieu is a visually impaired who have the passion and the dream to create a social change. His vision is that, the Gambia and Africa will be wide known for a high percentage of visually impaired people enrolling in higher education and various qualified jobs.

When Alieu lost his sight in 2003 after completion of high school, growing as a young person in a society where opportunities for the blind is limited to compete with sighted peers due to lack of access to technology and special adjustment training to participate inclusively in higher education.

He always dream to become an accountant. But in the Gambia there are usually two main options for people who are visually impaired, being a teacher or a beggar. When he completed his high school in June 2003, he was unable to further accounting due to lack of special training and motivation. He later chose to study teaching at the Gambia College. Upon completion of his teaching course, he was employed and posted by the Government to the only school for the blind. This “pinched him so hard that he came up with the idea to start an intensive training program in which blind high school graduates and adolescents in the Gambia are prepared for higher education, so that they are able to become politicians, lawyers, psychologists, managers, entrepreneurs and accountants.

Due to problem of access to technology training for visually impaired youth and adults in the Gambia to participate independently in higher education and employment. This worried Alieu and inspired him to work for a positive change by soliciting ideas to change the situation he and other fellow visually impaired faces in pursuing the right education and employment.

In 2011 Alieu join kanthari http://www.kanthari.org a leadership training institute in South of India to learn social change approaches needed to start up social venture.

Upon return to the Gambia in 2012, Alieu work with fellow visually impaired and other light minded individuals to implement the dream of Start Now idea of empowering blind and partially sighted high school graduates and adults for higher education and employment.

As a social entrepreneur, starting up a social venture with a limited resources and man power was a challenge. But with the great guidance, network and support from kanthari in South of India empowered Alieu and team to belief in the dream of Start Now and continue to work hard to provide training opportunities to adults and youths in the Gambia that wanted to use the computer to work. In November 2013, Alieu was recommended by kanthari for additional training at Louisiana Center for the Blind in the United State. This additional training enable Alieu gained new ideas about rehabilitation training for the blind and interacted with expertise, with the dream to replicate similar ideas in the Gambia.

His visit to the Louisiana Center for the Blind brought new ideas and strong philosophy about what it means to be blind.

Alieu continue his passion for a social change and in 2015 he was recognized by US State Department to participate under the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program in the United State https://www.irex.org/people/alieu-jaiteh. This recognition was a great opportunity to expand Start Now work in the Gambia.

In 2016 the goal to have a center that will served as a hub to train many visually impaired was realized through the support of Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia http://www.fgvi.org.uk. The center was officially inaugurated on 28th May 2016. This new center serve as the official and training center for Start Now located in Brikama New Town in the West Coast Region of the Gambia.

Since establishment of Start Now in 2012 to date, Start Now has trained many visually impaired across the Gambia to learn the skills to be independent in their homes, in class settings, and in their work places.

We can’t achieve all this success without the energetic team of Start Now, volunteers from the Gambia and outside the Gambia, and wonderful partners for their contributions.

Become A Volunteer

We hope you’ll consider volunteering with Start Now. Like any active, effective nonprofit Start Now depends a good deal on the generous donations of time by many volunteers, both blind and sighted.