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On November 8th, 2018, the new staff house was ceremoniously opened at the Health Center Buniadu of Riverboat Doctors International e.V. (RDI). In almost seven months of construction, also the kindergarten of the project was extended by one classroom and new water supply tabs for the community and for the local mosque were installed. “Today is a big day in the history of Buniadu,” said Ousman Camara of the Gambian Ministry of Health during the opening ceremony. “Running a health center is a good thing by itself, but providing staff quarters is really magnificent and worth recognizing.” The state health service had to let many employees go because no accommodations could be provided, Camara  continued.

The new staff house consists of a large common room and two rooms each for the two nurses of the Health Centre. A modern sanitary area with a shower is included and an African kitchen in the outdoor area. In the back of the building are two furnished rooms, a common area with kitchen corner and a bathroom for volunteers from Germany. All rooms of the house are tiled. Before staff and volunteers have lived in two very basic houses – one kilometer away from the Health Centre. Water had to be brought in with a donkey cart. The power of a small solar panel was sufficient only for the operation of a few incandescent lamps. The new staff housing is connected to the electricity and water supply of the Health Centre. The solar system of the Health Centre has been enlarged, new batteries installed.

The extension of the kindergarten by one additional classroom makes it possible to look after about 100 children now. At the same time, the three classrooms were equipped with used school furniture and boards – donated by various elementary schools in Germany. Also the playground of the kindergarten was renovated and expanded by a large nest swing.

On the outer wall of the staff house for the villagers four water supply points were installed, which are connected to the well of the Health Centre. The entrance area in front of the local mosque next to the Health Centre has been tiled and equipped with four water tabs and a tiled bench.

Construction works began in April 2018 and was organized by Project Aid The Gambia, the Gambian partner of Projekthilfe and RDI. Since the beginning of 2017 Project Aid The Gambia also manages the projects of RDI in The Gambia. For the construction, 5,000 concrete blocks were produced by hand on site and 220 square meters of tiles were laid.

The construction costs amounted to approx. 30,000 euros and were funded with donations Projekthilfe Gambia (staff house, solar batteries), Friedensdorf International (kindergarten), RDI and the German-Turkish Günes family (water points, mosque area, solar system), to name but a few.

A Gambian TV station, a radio station and several newspapers reported on the opening ceremony.

 

Video: Grand Opening of Staff House Buniadu (2018)

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It was a long journey for Project Aid The Gambia`s chairman Matthias Ketteler, Charles Mbye, the Local Chairman of Project Aid The Gambia and Christian Goeken of Riverboat Doctors International, to meet the Gambian President Adama Barrow. 370 kilometers from the coast to the very east of the country, where the president spent some days in his hometown Mansajang Kunda

President Barrow took 45 minutes on 16/05/2018, to discuss with the delegation of Project Aid the challenging situation of the rural centers in particular. After 22 years of dictatorship of the former ruler Yaya Jammeh, the state treasuries were looted, the president said. The smallest country in Africa relies on international aid.

Charles M’bye emphasized the many years of help provided by Project Aid The Gambia in various areas. President Barrow praised the work of Jahaly Health Centre, which has had an excellent reputation for over 27 years and is known in the Ministry of Health as THE role model for rural health services.

Matthias Ketteler explained some ideas for improving the supply of medicines and the provision of used medical devices. In the past ten months, various devices have already been made available through Project Aid The Gambia. However, for the collection of donations in kind, for maintenance measures and for training of Gambian technicians, tProject Aid needs appropriate agreements with the government, he said. Charles M’bye made it clear that such a cooperation would require a direct and competent government contact person to speed up communication and decision-making.

These proposals were approved by President Barrow. While still in the talk, he ordered a meeting over the phone for the next day with the Minister of Health, the Permanent Secretary, the Health Director  of The Gambia and the head of the largest Gambian Hospital (RVTH) with the representatives of Project Aid The Gambia

The following topics should be discussed:

– Provision of medicines in rural health stations

– Assistance in the maintenance / repair of health centers

– technical possibilities of collecting treatment statistics, drug use, early detection of epidemics

– Support of hospitals with medical equipment

– Training measures for the qualification of Gambian technicians regarding the maintenance and repair of medical devices

An employee of the President’s Office was designated as a direct contact person for Project Aid.

Towards the end of the very productive conversation, the work of the Health Centre Buniadu of Riverboat Doctors International was also addressed. The president was also well informed on this issue. He thanked the delegation for the help of the past years and for the reopening of the health centre.