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Matthias Ketteler, founder and chairperson of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, has been awarded the Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by the German President for his commitment in The Gambia.

Dr Sascha Dewender, Mayor of the German City of Bochum, presented Matthias Ketteler with the certificate and insignia on behalf of the German President on 10 August 2022.

During a short ceremony at Bochum City Hall, Dr Dewender, representing Lord Mayor Thomas Eiskirch, said:

“Such selfless commitment as that of Matthias Ketteler enriches our society – and far beyond the city limits! Education and health are the highest goods we can share with other people. Together with his comrades-in-arms in the association, Mr Ketteler does extraordinary things, and I am pleased that he has been awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon for this.”

Matthias Ketteler accepted the high award in his immediate family circle.

“The award is not for me personally, but for the idea of living solidarity and taking responsibility for the weaker ones,” said Matthias Ketteler. “It’s an award for our work in Jahaly with more than one million patients and thousands of children in our kindergarten to whom we provide early childhood education.”

Matthias Ketteler dedicates this award to all staff members in The Gambia as well as to all members, donors and supporters of Project Aid in Germany: “I gladly accept the award – on behalf of all of us.”

Matthias Ketteler, born in 1961, trained as a health care worker and nurse after graduating from high school (1987). He is a founding member of Project Aid The Gambia, both in Germany and in The Gambia, and has been a board member ever since, with one year’s interruption. He is married and has three children.

Matthias Ketteler is the owner of “Cognito Informationssysteme GmbH & Co KG”. In 2004/2005 he spent a whole year in The Gambia together with his family. In February 2009, Matthias Ketteler was appointed Special Ambassador for Rural Health by the Gambian government – with full diplomatic status.

On the board of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, Matthias Ketteler mainly takes care of the coordination of the projects and the daily exchange with the project office in The Gambia.

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Frank Heuer, one of the founders of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, has announced his resignation as a member of the board of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany,  with effect from 07.06.2022.

Frank has bid farewell from the board to members and supporters of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, with this message:

 

“Hello dear members and supporters of Project Aid.

After 35 years as a co-founder and board member, I have decided to no longer be available to serve on the board with immediate effect.

Purely personal reasons have led me to take this step.

I would like to emphasise that my decision has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the work on the ground in The Gambia or the current actions in Ukraine. Excellent work is still being done here, which deserves every support.

Of course, I will remain a member and – if it is desired and/or necessary – I will continue to be available for selective cooperation.

Believe me, this step was not easy for me after such a long time. But I believe that this is the right decision.

I wish the board and the association all the best for the future and that the problems coming up can be solved successfully.”

 

 

 

The Board has noted Frank’s resignation with regret and thanks him for his service to the Board over so many decades.

Frank Heuer was a member of the board of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, without interruption since day one. Among other things, he was responsible for the financial accounting of the association and for the administration of members, supporters and donors. He has often organised and led group trips of members and friends of Project Aid, Germany, to The Gambia.

The board has distributed Frank Heuer’s responsibilities to other board members and is already looking for a successor.

 

The Board of Projekthilfe Gambia e.V. (Project Aid The Gambia, Germany)

Matthias Ketteler

Ulfert Engelkes

Jürgen Heuer

Rieke Wiese

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On Tuesday, 07.06.2022, Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, started a second aid transport with medical supplies to Lviv, Ukraine. On Thursday, 09.06.2022, the transport reached the city in western Ukraine. To coordinate further aid deliveries, three members of Project Aid visited Lviv last week.

A van set off from Bochum on Tuesday and brought relief supplies to Lviv. The largest part is destined for the children’s heart clinic in Lviv. The medical consumables will ensure the clinic’s operation for three months.

The children’s heart clinic was evacuated from Kiev to Lviv in mid-March. Since then, 500 patients have been waiting for treatment. 45 children have already been operated on by the team led by head physician Dr Andriy Krjevych.

“Here we can only do one or two operations a day,” says the chief physician. “But that is better than nothing.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health had asked Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, for support and sent a list of materials urgently needed at the clinic.

Project Aid was able to procure a large part of the materials needed. Value: approx. 26,500 Euros. The supplies were financed from the proceeds of a fundraising campaign for Ukraine that Projekct Aid had started on 10.03.2022.

The total proceeds of the fundraising campaign so far amount to approx. 68,000 Euros.

40,000 euros of this have already been spent on the 1st aid transport. On 30 March 2022, Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, in cooperation with the German medical aid organisation action medeor e.V., had sent a truck with 5.6 tons of medicines and medical supplies for the emergency hospital in Lviv. Action medeor had provided additional relief supplies worth 25,000 euros and covered the transport costs.

The 2nd aid transport contains additional infusion equipment worth 1,500 euros as well as ten used infusion machines for a clinic in the city of Mykolajiw in south-eastern Ukraine, among others. The equipment was donated by the Ruhrland Clinic in Essen, Germany. The city of Mykolayiv is under Russian fire.

On Thursday, 02 June 2022 – on the 99th day of the war – Project Aid’s chairperson Matthias Ketteler and two other members of the association were in Lviv for a day to see the situation for themselves on site at the children’s heart clinic.

Matthias Ketteler says: “What impressed me most was how much love and affection the doctors, nurses and caregivers here have for the children and their parents. You have to see that for yourself. It’s unbelievable.”

The Project Aid team also visited two other projects in Lviv that could be supported with future donations – a regional children’s hospital and the organisation “Where Hope Lives”, which, among other things, supplies a large number of internally displaced persons with food and hygiene articles.

The team led by Project Aid’s chairperson Matthias Ketteler set off by car from Bochum, germany, towards Ukraine at midday on Wednesday (01.06.2022) and returned on Friday evening (03.06.2022) after travelling more than 3,000 kilometres.

You can get an impression of the journey in this highlights story on Instagram | here |

The donation account of Ukraine Aid of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, is now exhausted for the time being. We have spent the entire donation amount of 68,000 Euros on medical supplies and delivered them to Ukraine.

Project Aid the Gambia, Germany, is continuing the donation campaign and will organise a third aid transport in due course. A further donation of 10,000 euros has already been announced.

 

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** Update donation status: 68,011,33 euros (31.05.2022/8 am)**

Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, is launching an appeal for donations and an aid campaign for a hospital in Lviv/Lemberg in Ukraine.

Putin’s war against Ukraine is a war that violates international law and has no regard for the civilian population. More than 12,000 civilians have been killed, 61 hospitals have been shelled. In Mariupol, a maternity and children’s clinic was destroyed, 17 staff members were injured, some of them seriously.

The war has already caused immeasurable suffering. Millions of people are on the run. The situation in Ukraine itself is catastrophic. The terrible descriptions, videos and photos of the situation of the civilian population in Ukraine are almost unbearable. We are shocked and want to do something.

The German Board of Project Aid he Gambia has decided on a relief action for Ukraine. Our statutes make such an action possible. Project Aid Chairperson Matthias Ketteler has already personally handed over two carloads full of food and hygiene articles to aid organisations at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing at Dolhobyczow.

Now we are organising a large aid delivery with medicines, surgical supplies etc. for the largest hospital in Lviv (Львів), Ukraine, the “Lviv Clinical Hospital of Emergency Medical Care”.

Hospital director Oleg Samchuk writes to us: “Our doctors here work day and night. The west of Ukraine is still largely spared from warfare. But here, too, we have to go to the shelter again and again when there is an air raid alert. Many injured soldiers and civilians are brought to the Lviv region. We hope for your support so that we can provide good medical treatment for the many injured. Please do not wait too long with your support.” The whole letter | here |

If you would like to know what kind of materials we will buy from your donations at the medical aid organisation action medeor – the list we received from Lviv can be found | here |

Our heartfelt request: support our relief campaign with your donation.

We accept donations (please no donations in kind!)

– via our website | here |. Please mark the third donation option “I want to support the work of Project Aid The Gambia with a donation”. In the further course you can enter “Ukrainehilfe” as the intended purpose.
– as a direct transfer to our donation account at Sparkasse Hattingen, account no. 50963, account number 43051040, IBAN DE20 4305 1040 0000 0509 63, BIC: WELADED1HTG 

or
– simply scan the QR code below with the banking app on your smartphone. The account number and intended use are already entered. If you need a donation receipt, please enter your address.

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If you can privately host refugees from Ukraine, please register here: https://www.unterkunft-ukraine.de/

We thank you very much for your support.

Yours sincerely, Project Aid The Gambia / Projekthilfe Gambia e.V.

The Board

Matthias Ketteler, Frank Heuer, Ulfert Engelkes, Jürgen Heuer, Rieke Wiese

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Project Aid The Gambia, partner association of the German Projekthilfe Gambia e.V. in The Gambia, has expanded its board from five to nine members. The Projekthilfe Gambia, as a German association, cannot operate directly in The Gambia. Project Aid The Gambia is officially registered in The Gambia as “International NGO A57″.

In order to broaden its profile among the Gambian public, the organization has expanded its Board to include well-known personalities with good contacts in politics, business and society.

The newly appointed board members are Pa Doudou Mbye, Minyan Jobe, Lang K. Konteh and Malik Jones.

Charles Mbye, Chairman: “Although Project Aid The Gambia operates two excellent health centers and kindergartens in Jahaly, CRR, and Buniadu, NBR, and has supported the country’s public health system for many years, among other things by supplying used medical equipment from Germany, the organization’s public image is not yet at the level it deserves. We want to change that.”

We introduce the new board members in detail:

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from left to right: Matthias Ketteler, Pa Doudou Mbye, Charles Mbye, Michael Blell, Ali Tambadou, Minyan Jobe, Lang K. Konteh.

Not pictured: Malik Jones, Ulfert Engelkes

 

Pa Doudou Mbye – Mr. Mbye is a retired International civil servant with over 25 years of working experience with the United Nations and has worked in several continents. Prior to joining the UN system, Pa Doudou was with The Gambia Government civil service – apart from stints at the Ministries of Economic Planning & Industrial Development (MEPID) and the erstwhile Ministry of Local Government & Lands, he has managed several World Bank, UN and EU projects notably Gambia’s first World Bank funded urban project – the Urban Management& Development Project. “Joining Project Aid would give me the opportunity to serve The Gambia’s health sector”, he says.

Minyan Jobe – Mr. Jobe is the Honorary Consul of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Managing Director of ABC Logistics and Past Assistant Governor and Current Chair of the Rotary District Public Image Committee, District 9101, Board member of the Media Council of The Gambia and Board member of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce. “I have a passion for helping the needy and in effect, complimenting the efforts of government in the health sector and most especially community development”, he says. “This I believe will help ensure a healthy and productive Gambia.”

Lang K. Konteh – Mr. Konteh is the Managing Director of Maadikon Trading Ltd, a petroleum importation and re-export company. “I am a philanthropist in heart”, he says. “For this reason, it’s a honour and pleasure for me to be appointed a board member of Project Aid The Gambia.”

Malik Jones – Mr. Jones serves as the new secretary of the Board, responsible for public relations. Mr. Jones is doing Media Consulting and Public Relations. He works as political commentator and TV host on Election Nights in The Gambia and as the Master of Ceremony on Special events. The veteran journalist began his broadcast career in 1980 at Radio Gambia and worked through the ranks from Announcer to Producer, Senior Producer, Principal Producer. He hold several important positions in the media fraternity of The Gambia throughout his career, includig Director General of GRTS.  In February 2017 he was redeployed as Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, a post he held before.

The other long-standing members of the Board are:

Matthias Ketteler, Germany, co-founder of Project Aid The Gambia and Good Will Ambassador At Large

Abdoulie Charles Mbye, Chairman of the Board, Owner and Head of General Engineering Ltd., a reputable engineering outfit in The Gambia

Ali Tambadou,  Realtor, who was also project coordinator for the Jahaly kindergarten project in 2004. Mr. Tambadou has a very personal relationship with the founders of Project Aid The Gambia that goes back to its inception more than 35 years ago. He is in fact continuing the good work of his father, the late Alhaji MS Tambadou, a co-founder who initiated the construction of the Jahaly Health Centre in support of the people of Jahaly, his home village.

Michael Blell, Manager at Sunset Beach Hotel, Kotu

Ulfert Engelkes, Germany, filmmaker

At its constituent meeting a few days ago in Manjai Kunda, the newly constituted Board of Project Aid the Gambia decided that, in addition to the existing projects, it will in future also be involved in individual medical aid for people in need in The Gambia. Among other things, fundraiser campaigns are to be launched in the social media.

 

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Rieke Wiese is a new member of the board of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany. The general meeting elected her to succeed Dieter Lieken on 12 November 2021. Rieke Wiese represents the northern regional branch of Project Aid on the board.

“I would especially like to inspire young people to get involved with Project Aid,” says Rieke Wiese. Rieke is 24 years old and works as a health and nursing assistant in the children’s intensive care unit at Oldenburg Hospital, Germany.

Rieke Wiese now wants to bring a breath of fresh air into the board’s work – “and female expertise,” she says. She has already been a regular guest at the board meetings for a year.

Rieke was in The Gambia for the first time in 2017. “The country and the people and what I experienced in The Gambia grabbed me in the first week,” she says today. In 2018, Rieke spent three months working at the Jahaly health Centre: “I’m excited about what I saw in Jahaly and what I was able to do there myself.” She learned how health care works in another country and how to deal with completely different diseases and medicines in a different culture. “I was curious,” she says, “I always have been.”

“I know how things work at the Jahaly Health Centre and I feel very connected to Jahaly. Now I want to get actively involved in board work, learn a lot in the process and combine my job and voluntary work.”

What Rieke finds fascinating is that The Gambia is a country with “four different worlds”, as she says. “The world of the capital Banjul, the world of the tourist areas on the coast, the small world on the grounds of the project office and then the world in the bush clinic or in the village of Jahaly.”

 

“I am making room on the board for younger people,” says Dieter Lieken. “Working for Project Aid has enriched my life. I have made many friends in The Gambia and will definitely remain very connected to Project Aid.”

Dieter Lieken is a nurse and founded the Northern Regional Branch of Project Aid in 1996. He has been a member of the German board since 2006.

Dieter Lieken became acquainted with Project Aid in 1994. In August 1994, he accompanied Matthias Ketteler to the Jahaly Health Centre in The Gambia. Already on the return flight, he decided to voluntarily work for Project Aid.

“The clear organisation, the committed work of the board, but most importantly the cordiality of the inhabitants of Jahaly have always motivated me to work for Project Aid. Incidentally, this also applies to my wife and my whole family.”

Dieter Lieken intensively accompanied the development of the garden projects in The Gambia. He accompanied a total of four aid convoys to Gambia.

 

Welcome, Rieke. And many thanks for your work, Dieter.

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We are increasingly receiving e-mails and messages from friends and supporters of Project Aid The Gambia who report that they are being contacted via social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) by people from The Gambia who are themselves – or their relatives, friends – in a social, financial, health or other emergency situation and are asking for help.

Project Aid The Gambia’s position on such requests for help is as follows:

Most of the time, these cases are a fake or a criminal scam. The stories that are told are usually adventurous, illogical or simply false. Often, fake photos and/or documents are sent along to prove the – alleged – plight. In the beginning, we tried to verify the fates described. So far, all cases without exception have turned out to be fake. Often the contact was broken off when we offered – apart from money – concrete help, e.g. a medical examination in one of our health centers.

We recommend NOT to respond to such requests for help and under no circumstances to transfer money to The Gambia to unknown persons who have contacted you via social media. Break off the contact and block the respective users.

Of course, we cannot rule out the possibility that one of these fates is true after all. In any case, we are not in a position, either in terms of personnel or finances, to verify such stories. OProject Aid The Gambia cannot provide individual help in social and financial emergencies. We are committed to improving the lives of as many people as possible in The Gambia through our health and education projects.

If you would like to support people in The Gambia, please do so only through recognised aid organisations. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your interest in the people of The Gambia. We are always happy to receive support for our work. How about sponsoring a kindergarten place for our kindergarten with pre-school in Jahaly? Sponsorship application | here |

By the way: another organisation working in The Gambia also reports about similar experiences in a Facebook post | here |

You can download general information from Project Aid The Gambia on such requests | here | (German only)

 

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The Jahaly Health Centre will be the base station for a mobile vaccination team of the Gambian Ministry of Health for Jahaly and the surrounding area. Project Aid has offered the ministry working space and free overnight stays at the Jahaly Health Centre. A second mobile vaccination team works from neighbouring Brikama-Ba. The vaccination teams travel to the individual villages around Jahaly and make an offer of vaccination (Johnson & Johnson)  to the population. The international COVAX initiative has delivered 105,000 more vaccine doses to The Gambia. The Ministry of Health has developed a vaccination plan for all locations throughout The Gambia.

The mobile vaccination team is expected to arrive at the Jahaly Health Centre in the next few days. The arrival is delayed due to logistical difficulties.

In addition, the Jahaly Health Centre has started an education programme among patients and in the surrounding villages. Jahaly Health Centre staff are informing village elders, alkalos and imams about the need for a vaccination against COVID-19. They spread the word. They use village meetings, Friday prayers and local multipliers who march through the villages with drums and pass on the information about the vaccination. Patients who visit the Jahaly Health Centre are also educated daily about the vaccination and encouraged to get vaccinated. The message is: “Corona is real. We have to take the pandemic really seriously. We can all fight it together. No one is safe until everyone is safe. Vaccination is safe and it works.”

Initial feedback from the villages is encouraging: village elders have expressed their support for the vaccination campaign. They say they are now aware of the seriousness of the Corona virus and how important it is to protect themselves and their villages. People in the villages are willing to be vaccinated, they say.

Many residents in the surrounding villages do not have access to information. The opinion that COVID-19 does not exist is widespread in the rural areas.

 

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On 4 May 1991, Project Aid The Gambia opened the Jahaly Health Centre in Jahaly /  The Gambia and has since treated almost one million patients. We are proud that thanks to your donations and the tireless efforts of our nurses, we have been able to provide basic medical care in Jahaly for so long – and that the Jahaly Health Centre still looks the same today as it did on its first day. In fact, we think it looks even better. Let’s go for the next 30 years!

Due to the Corona pandemic, the planned celebrations turned out to be smaller than planned. On the day of the anniversary, our team in Jahaly did what they have been doing every day since 4 May 1991: taking care of the patients.

On Sunday, 16 May 2021, a small delegation from the project’s Main Office in Manjai Kunda travelled to Jahaly to thank the team on the ground for their work over the past 30 years with a small celebration. With them were the management team, Charles Mbye and Michael Blell from the board of Project Aid The Gambia and Project Aid (co-)founder and board member Matthias Ketteler from Germany.

They met with the frontline workers of Jahaly Health Centre and Jahaly-Madina Kindergarten – nurses, laboratory assistants, teachers, cooks, cleaners, gardeners and watchmen – to look back on the past 30 years. The elders from Jahaly were also present and the alkalos and imams of the villages of Jahaly and Madina. The women had prepared a festive meal of grilled chicken in baobab sauce. And even a birthday cake, which was ceremoniously cut by clinic head Fatou Suso and the alkalo.

Ebrima Jobarteh, the Project Coordinator, said, “30 years of effective service is the result of hard work and dedication of all staff. I thank the board for their continuous support.”

Charles Mbye, Chairperson of Project Aid The Gambia, said, “We look back with gratitude at your hard and outstanding work full of dedication. And we know that you will continue in exactly the same way.”

Matthias Ketteler, Board Member of Project Aid The Gambia in Germany, said: “My thanks go to the entire staff and to my mentor, Mr Tambadou, who convinced me 33 years ago to build a clinic here in Jahaly, his home village. I am happy because the Jahaly Health Centre has now become a model for the whole of The Gambia. And that is not because of the solid buildings, the money or the maintenance, but because of the people. That we have the trust of the people of Jahaly and Madina is paramount.”

It was a happy afternoon – despite more than 40 degrees in the shade.

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Since April 15, 2021, the Jahaly Health Centre has been charging its patients for the first time a – flat rate – fee for medication of 100 Dalasis (approx. EUR 1.65). Until then – since the clinic was inaugurated in 1991 – drugs had always been given out free of charge. Persistently high patient numbers in recent years (more than 30,000 patients per year) are one of the reasons for this change.

Project Aid The Gambia also believes the introduction of a drug fee to be sensible for another reason: “Development cooperation means putting the economic basis of projects on your own two feet,” says Matthias Ketteler, founder and board memeber of Project Aid The Gambia. “Patients’ participation in running costs is a necessary step and reduces dependency on foreign aid. ”

In the past few weeks, the patients at the Jahaly Health Centre had been informed about the introduction of the flat-rate drug fee in personal conversations and via a local radio station. The fee was positively received by the patients. In the surrounding governmental health facilities there are hardly any or no medication available, so that patients have to buy their medication themselves in – mostly – private pharmacies at increased prices.

“We guarantee that there will always be enough medication available at Jahaly Health Centre in the future,” says Matthias Ketteler. Project Aid The Gambia has just bought medication for approx. 18,000 euros in order to refill the drug stocks at Jahaly Health Centre.

In the course of the introduction of the drug fee, the registration / consultation fee for children between the ages of five and 15 has also been increased slightly. The fee is now 30 Dalasis (EUR 0.50)  instead of 25 Dalasis (EUR 0.40) as before. Children under five years of age pay – as before – 15 Dalasis (EUR 0.25), adults – as before – 30 Dalasis (EUR 0.50).