17 April 2003, CONAKRY, Guinea One doesn't need to
know sign language to understand that a deaf community in a poor
neighbourhood of this coastal capital is delighted to receive a
fishing canoe, outboard motor and nets with funding from FAO.
The story begins in 1998, when, yearning to be no longer dependent
on their families, a group of five deaf young people managed to
negotiate a small self-improvement grant from the Governments of
Guinea and Canada. Since they lived in the fishing community of
Dabondy, the ocean beckoned as a source of income and independence.
The grant paid for a 15-horsepower outboard motor and a fishing
net, and the group formed a partnership with a boat owner to go
fishing. Still, they dreamed of greater independence.
The problem: no boat
"Our handicap doesn't present a particular problem for fishing,"
says Boubacar Berry, 23, president of the cooperative, who communicates
with partial speech and his mother's help. "The problem was
that we didn't have a boat."
In 1999, they got their boat, a five-metre ocean-going canoe. On
a good day, a crew can bring in 200-300 kilograms of fish, earning
about US$160 to US$240.
An FAO project, worth US$8 600, paid for the boat, a second 15-horsepower
outboard motor, fishing nets, an insulated box to keep their catch
fresh and money for a revolving fund to help pay for fuel and maintain
The group was fighting poverty, but it was also growing: to 10 men,
who go fishing in shifts to get maximum use out of the boat, and
15 women, who process and sell the fish. "It is hard to say
how much money I make because we share the money among the members
of the cooperative," says Mr Berry. "But my life is better
now. I am independent. For the future, I want to improve the way
we fish, with more equipment."
More help needed
Sayongbe Bangoura, 27, married with six children, uses sign language
to communicate with an interpreter, who translates into the local
language, Soussou. A second interpreter translates into French for
"Thanks to this project, I have a little more to eat, but it
really isn't enough. I'm looking for more help," she says.
"If my profits go up, the priority is always a bit more food
there is never enough and then it would be to save
The "Deaf fishing community of Dabondy", as the cooperative
is known, is still seeking modest help. When the men return in the
middle of the night with too many fish for their insulated ice-filled
boxes, the extra fish rots before the women rise the next morning
to light the smoking ovens. A couple of extra boxes would make a
lot of difference.
They asked FAO to publicize their story so that charitable organizations
might learn of their needs. Anyone wishing to help can contact the
FAO Representation in Conakry at FAO-GN@fao.org.
Information Officer, FAO
+39 06 570 52762