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20220121_Board-Project-Aid-The-Gambia-03

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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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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The association “Räder für Afrika – Tiroler helfen vor Ort” (Wheels for Africa – Tyroleans help on site) from Austria has dissolved and donated its remaining assets of 3,000 euros to Project Aid The Gambia.

“We thought that the remaining assets would be well invested with you. All the best for your great projects,” wrote Andreas Langer from Tyrol, Austria.

In 2018, “Wheels for Africa” had transferred a CITARO regular bus overland via Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal to The Gambia – as support for an extended Gambian family. The family wanted to start a business and use the bus to offer a regular service between the Gambian capital Banjul and Farafeni on the North Bank. However, despite many attempts, this was not feasible. Therefore, the bus was sold locally and the proceeds and other donations from the association help the Gambian family to cover their basic needs. The association also delivered medical supplies to the hospital in Farafeni, as well as bicycles, school supplies and other donations for children.

“Wheels for Africa” had contacted Project Aid The Gambia in 2018 to get tips on how to transfer the bus overland.

In May 2021, the “Wheels for Africa” journey came to an end – the association has disbanded. “Even though this chapter has come to an end, many things remain: an adventure, a great community experience and our contribution in Africa and The Gambia. Acting together works!” the association writes on its Facebook page as it bids farewell.

Project Aid The Gambia “continues” the journey and promises to use the entrusted assets from Austria in the spirit of “Wheels for Africa”.

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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).

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Essen/Germany 19.09.20200 Project Aid The Gambia has again launched an aid container to The Gambia. 29 hospital beds and extensive medical accessories for ventilators were loaded in the town of Essen/Germany.

The beds are a donation from the Essen University Hospital. The procurement of accessories for 34 ventilators, which were already handed over to the Gambian Ministry of Health on August 20, 2020, was funded as a micro-project of the German Embassy in Senegal / Gambia Office with 7,500 euros.

The aid container will arrive in The Gambia in early November.

You can find the blog post about the handover of the ventilators

| here |

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Project Aid The Gambia donated 23,000 washable mouth-nose face masks made of cotton to 51 health facilities in The Gambia. In May Project Aid The Gambia handed over a total of 8,000 masks in the Central River Region (CRR) to 22 health centers and minor community clinics as well as to the hospital in Bansang. In addition, the facilities have received information sheets with information on the correct use and cleaning of the face masks. In mid-July, 4,000 face masks were donated to the largest hospital in The Gambia, the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in Banjul, and a further 11,000 face masks to two hospitals (Essau District Hospital and Farafenni Hospital), 12 health centers and 13 community clinics in the North Bank province Region (NBR).

The masks are designed to ensure that staff and each patient are provided with a face mask during their visit to the facilities. Upon leaving patients then return the masks. The masks are re-issued after being cleaned with hot water and detergent. Written instructions explain the procedure that Project Aid has been using in it’s own Jahaly Health Centre in Jahaly since the beginning of April.

The face masks for the North Bank Region were handed over to the Regional Health authorities on July 15th, 2020 in the Health Center Buniadu during a press conference and were then personally delivered to the health facilities by Project Aid The Gambia. Three newspapers and two TV stations had come to Buniadu for the press conference. The reports of the TV stations are linked at the end of this page. You can find the press release for the handover of the face masks| here | 

Since April, Project Aid The Gambia has had 32,300 masks produced in The Gambia for approx. 30 GMD / piece, 31,800 of which were spent. The production of further face masks has already been commissioned. The donations that we received for the masks in April / May are enough for the production of a total of approx. 47,000 face masks.

The Gambia is recording the feared increase in COVID-19 infections these days. As of July 20, 2020, a total of 112 infections were officially registered. Of these, 47 cases are active, 57 patients have recovered. Four patients have died. One patient has returned to Senegal, three patients have withdrawn. 668 people are in quarantine. A total of 4,147 tests were performed.

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Project Aid The Gambia today launched an aid container with medical equipment to The Gambia from Essen, Germany. The container was loaded with 36 ventilators for use against COVID-19 and 18 hospital beds. The donated equipment will be handed over to the Ministry of Health in The Gambia.

The 36 ventilators are donations from two medical supplier companies in Germany, Boergel and Loewenstein Medical. The 18 hospital beds are a donation from the Ruhrland Clinic – University Hospital Essen. Additional medical accessories for the ventilators were also loaded, provided by Project Aid The Gambia.

All equipment is used, but in good and functional condition. The ventilators are used to prepare the West African country for the expected increase in seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The ventilators have a new value of approx. 200,000 euros.

There are only 42 officially confirmed Corona cases (as of June 23, 2020) in The Gambia, of which 14 cases are active. 26 patients have recovered, two patients have died. The country with 2.3 million inhabitants currently only has 20 ventilators and eight intensive care bed units for COVID-19 patients.

“Our delivery of ventilators will significantly improve the equipment of the Gambian health system,” says Matthias Ketteler, founder and board member of Project Aid The Gambia. “The number of corona infections in Gambia is still increasing slowly, but the number of unreported cases is high because there are insufficient testing options.” Health experts expect a possibly uncontrollable outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa in the summer. “We want to use this remaining time to help improve the dilapidated health system in The Gambia.”

Two of the ventilators are to be delivered to the Medicare clinic, the best private clinic in The Gambia. In return, this clinic has agreed to instruct staff of the governmanetal clinics in the operation of the devices, reports Matthias Ketteler.

Loewenstein Medical had been working flat out over the past few days to provide as many used ventilators as possible from different locations. “We are pleased that our devices can make a small contribution to on-site help,” says Timo Loewenstein from Loewenstein Medical.

Sales agent Joerk Deimann of Boergel company came to Essen to load the container. Since many years he has been an active member of Project Aid The Gambia. “I think it’s fantastic and very imitative that my company is participating in this campaign.”

Heiko Hannemann, Managing Director of Boergel company: “We are happy to have participated in this relief effort. The ventilators can still serve well there. However, we hope that they never have to be used. ”

Staff of the Ruhrland Clinick had received the ventilators from different cities in Germany, prepared them for dispatch together with the hospital beds and loaded them into the container with the help of Joerk Deimann and Matthias Ketteler.

The Ruhrland Clinic – University Clinic Essen had already supported Project Aid The Gambia in 2019 with a donation of 21 used hospital beds and other medical equipment.

The 20ft container is shipped from Germany to the Gambia via a port in the Netherlands. The container is scheduled to arrive in the Gambian capital Banjul in late July.

In April / May Project Aid The Gambia has already successfully carried out a “Masks for The Gambia” fundraiser and collected around 25,000 euros in donations. In the meantime, over 30,000 washable reusable mouth-nose masks made of cotton have already been produced in The Gambia from the donations of that fundraiser. Around 10,000 masks were distributed to Project Aid`s Jahaly Health Centre and surrounding governmental health centers.

 

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Our fundraiser “Masks for The Gambia” was a great success. After the publication of our last newsletter on 04.04.2020 and the call for donations “A letter from Gambia” on 20.04.2020, donations of 21,778.00 euros have been received in our bank account to date. Via Facebook we received another 2,673.70 euros in donations for the campaign – a total of 24,671.70 euros.

We thank all donors wholeheartedly for their small and large donations. 20,000 euros were transferred to Project Aid The Gambia in late April. 30,000 masks have already been produced there – and production continues…

The first masks were delivered in early April: 1,000 pieces to Jahaly Health Centre and 500 pieces to the Health Center Buniadu, which we run on behalf of Riverboat Doctors International e.V.

In Jahaly and Buniadu, patients receive a mask, which they return after their visit. The cotton masks are then soaked in hot water with detergent overnight and washed out and dried the next day before being handed out again. The two health centers were the first and only health facilities in The Gambia to have masks for staff and patients.You can watch a short video on Facebook here (just click here).

Matthias Ketteler, chairman of Project Aid The Gambia, initiated and organized the mask campaign on site in The Gambia before returning to Germany with his family in early May.

The Corona situation in The Gambia itself is somewhat confusing. Officially, the government has the situation under control – but to us the authorities seem overwhelmed. It took weeks of effort for Matthias Ketteler to obtain approval from the Gambian Ministry of Health to provide masks to state run health centers free of charge. There are neither medical masks nor simple mouth-nose masks available.

On Thursday (June 4th, 2020) we finally got a list with 23 health centers and local health posts in the Central River region, CRR, around Jahaly, to which we distributed a total of 8,000 masks at the beginning of this week, 500 and 250 each. We also made our project truck available free of charge to volunteers, who across the country distributed rice, sugar and oil to families in need, due to the lockdown.

There have been officially 28 Corona cases (as of June 10th) in The Gambia, five of which are active. 22 patients have recovered, one patient has died. A high number of unreported cases must be assumed, since there are only insufficient test capacities available. So far, just under 2,000 tests have been carried out and 800 contacts followed. 130 suspected cases are in quarantine. The state of emergency in the country was again extended by 21 days on June 10th. The markets that are vital for the population, but also mosques and churches, are reopened under certain conditions. We do not know whether our kindergarten can open again before the summer holidays begin in mid-July. The biggest problem, however, is that “social distancing” doesn’t work in The Gambia. The government strongly recommends wearing masks in public. On the big markets and on the ferries, however, we observe that nobody adheres to it.

The health system is poorly equipped: only 20 transpirators and eight intensive care bed units are available for a population of 2.3 million. Boergel GmbH, a German company, has provided us with 12 used transpirators for The Gambia. Inquiries from other companies are ongoing. Unfortunately, for weeks we have also been waiting for an urgently needed official request from the Gambian government. Together with donated hospital beds from the German hospital Ruhrlandklinik, the relief supplies are to be shipped to The Gambia at the end of June. We thank you very much for all these donations.

In Jahaly we now are also selling personal masks to patients and their escorts for a small fee (20 Dalasi, approx. 35 cents). After the initial reluctance of the villagers, we have now sold over 360 masks to them. Many people, especially in rural Gambia, do not believe that the virus exists. Where should they find out about it – without access to newspapers, radio, TV or social media? We have sold several thousand masks to companies in the coastal region or other NGOs in the country, e.g. to the Children’s Village Bottrop in The Gambia. The Serekunda Hospital, the largest city in The Gambia, has received 400 masks from us for free. Our masks can also be purchased in some pharmacies. All proceeds go to the production of further masks. With each mask, buyers and users receive a DIN A5 leaflet, which explains the hygienically correct use of the masks in text and images. We had several tens of thousands of copies of this leaflet printed.

On Friday (12.06.2020) we were hostd by Star TV-The Gambia on the program “Talk to Malik Jones”. Project Aid The Gambia’s project coordinator Ebrima Jobarteh and Dr. Eliazer Rodriguez reported on our projects and our contribution in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in The Gambia. Dr. Rodriguez currently supports us as a medical advisor. Please watch the entire program here: