(Press information) Project Aid The Gambia (German: Projekthilfe Gambia e.V., Hattingen/Germany) was founded 30 years ago, on December 23rd, 1985. The most known project of the state registered German charity organization is Jahaly Health Centre in the village of Jahaly in The Gambia.
It happened in 1985, one day before Christmas, when seven young people met in Hattingen/Germany to found the organization. Amoung the founders were Matthias Ketteler, who until today is the chairman, and Frank Heuer. In 1985 they were 24 and 23 years of age, both were in their job training as a nurse.
Matthias Ketteler: „We were a group with a lot of students of patient care like us. We discussed how unfair life is in other countries. Then we decided to stop talking and make a difference.”
Frank Heuer: “The idea to work in the field of development aid was somehow spontaneously, but I did not regret it until today. My compensation for the heavy work load in our organization are the enthusiasm, the joy and the gratefulness which the people in The Gambia show for our activities.”
The association was first called “Project Aid The Third World” and was later renamed to “Project Aid The Gambia”, in early 2015. The first target of the young people thirty years ago was to support development projects in underdeveloped countries.
Matthias Ketteler: “Our group came from Hattingen and Bochum. The city of Bochum, a local bank branch and a local newspaper then promoted a great project in The Gambia, called the ‘Children’s Clinic Bochum “. During our education Frank Heuer and me then spent our annual leave working in that clinic located in the village of Njaba Kunda. We met many people there and fell in love with The Gambia and it´s people. So we have come to The Gambia.”
Through this first project, helping the” Children’s Clinic Bochum “in the village Njaba Kunda, the West African country soon developed into the focus of the organization’s work. In 1987 Project Aid then supported the extension and renovation of a Health Centre in the Gambian capital city Banjul. In 1990/1991, the association built and opened their own Health Centre in the village Jahaly, the “Jahaly Health Centre”, in Germany aka as “Buschklinik”. Since opening more than half a million patients have been treated at the clinic, which in 2009 was awarded the status of a “Model Clinic” by the Gambian Government.
The organization is financed by donations and membership fees. Currently the association has 52 members and about 300 supporters. Board and active members work voluntarily, for administrative and advertising costs the organization have spent for many years much less than one percent of it´s revenue. “We promise our sponsors and donors that their donations with minimal deduction really reach the people in Jahaly”, chairman Matthias Ketteler says.
In Jahaly and the neighboring village of Madina, since 2003, Project Aid supports four garden projects of women’s cooperatives by fencing the gardens and building wells. In 2004, the organization built and established a kindergarten with preschool, right next to Jahaly Health Centre. The construction and the operation of the Kindergarten of the first three years were funded by donations of the viewers of the fundraisung programme “Spendenmarathon” (Donation Telethon) of RTL German Television. Built and designed for 240 children, in the project´s kindergarten now twice as many children are cared for and prepared for the primary school.
The daily work in Jahaly is done by about 55 Gambian employees, including nurses, teachers, nursery-school teachers, gardeners and cleaners – headed by a Gambian project manager.
Since 2010 Project Aid builds in the villages Jahaly and Madina eco-friendly smoke-free stoves that will gradually replace the traditional open fireplaces. The establishment of a plantation of ten thousand Moringa Oleifera trees, applied since 2012, has created more jobs in Jahaly. Sales of Moringa products such as tea, powder, oil and soap in Germany shall become an important financial mainstay of the projects in the long term. 2011/2012, Project Aid replaced the former “Children’s Clinic Bochum” in Najaba Kunda, which has since operated as the state-run “Njaba Kunda Health Centre”, by a new one – supported by funds of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The latest project of the organization, which was established in 2012, is a cooperation with the German charity “Friedensdorf (Peace Village) International” in Oberhausen/Germany, which brings seriously ill or injured children from The Gambia to Germany for overseas treatment. Already 30 children have been helped in this way with a medically urgently necessary surgery.
Project Aid would like to thank for the numerous donations in the last 30 years and kindly asks, to continue to financially support it´s work for the people of Jahaly in the future also..