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Der neue Vorstand der Projekthilfe (von links nach rechts): Ulfert Engelkes, Rolf Kuhlemann, Rieke Wiese, Matthias Ketteler
Der neue Vorstand der Projekthilfe (von links nach rechts): Ulfert Engelkes, Rolf Kuhlemann, Rieke Wiese, Matthias Ketteler

At the 2022 general meeting of Projekthilfe Gambia (Project Aid The Gambia, Germany) on 25 November 2022 in Essen, Germany, board member Jürgen Heuer announced his resignation for reasons of age. With the resignation of Frank Heuer in June 2022, two board positions were thus not filled.

The general meeting approved a proposed amendment to the statutes, according to which the board of Project Aid, Germany, consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of five members.

The General Assembly elected Rolf Kuhlemann as a new member of the Board, so that in the current term of office (until the General Assembly in 2023) the Board consists of four members: Matthias, Ketteler, Ulfert Engelkes, Rieke Wiese and Rolf Kuhlemann.

Rolf Kuhlemann, born in 1950, studied electrical engineering at the Ruhr University and worked in the energy industry until his retirement. He is married and has two children. As a private citizen, he now serves as a member of the Board.

In 2010, Rolf Kuhlemann came into close contact with Matthias Ketteler and helped get the five Toyota Land Cruisers ready for the 2011 humanitarian convoy tour to Jahaly. He then took part in the tour as cook and driver of the “kitchen van”.

“The tour with a great team, the enthusiastic welcome by the villagers of Jahaly and the impressions I made in the first two weeks on the ground made me want to get intensively involved in Project Aid,” says Rolf Kuhlemann. “In 2011 and the years after, I was in Jahaly many times and, among other things, took care of setting up the solar power supply with battery storage.”

The Board will now register the amendment to the statutes with the competent court of association – German local court of Essen. We will then publish the new version of the statutes on this website.

To view the statutes valid until 25.11.2022, please visit the document | here | (German only)

Der blaue Bus im Kinderdorf Bottrop in Gambia
Der blaue Bus im Kinderdorf Bottrop in Gambia

The participants of the 2022 fundraising tour from northern Germany to The Gambia have all returned safely to Germany – and are now processing the many experiences on the adventurous 7,000-kilometre journey.

All four tour vehicles have found new owners in the meantime.

The ambulance was handed over to the project. The vehicle now has a Gambian registration, number plate and insurance and will be used as one of two ambulances at the Jahaly Health Centre. We checked the vehicle after the long journey, rebuilt it a bit inside and put project aid stickers on the outside. We use the ambulance to take our patients from Jahaly to the hospital in Bansang, 40 kilometres away, for further treatment if necessary. We donated our “old” ambulance to Kanifing General Hospital.

The blue minibus (Mercedes Sprinter) with 8 seats was bought from us by the Children’s Village Bottrop in The Gambia, financed by the Otto Hahn High School in Dinslaken. The vehicle is to be used as a school bus there.

The white minibus was taken over by a Gambian.

The station wagon was bought by Ablai, a former driver of the project in Gambia. He is using the vehicle to expand his small taxi business.

All proceeds from the sale will go to our projects in The Gambia.

The 2022 fundraising tour of the Northern Regional Group of Projekthilfe Gambia with ten participants led in October from Rodenkirchen, Germany, via France, Spain, Morocco, the Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal to the village of Jahaly in The Gambia. Almost 7,000 kilometres in fourteen days.

Watch two short reels on Instagram about the fundraising Tour | here | and | here |. Read the Tour diary (German only) | here | 

Wir sind bereit
Wir sind bereit

The northern regional group of Project Aid The Gambia, Germany, has started its fundraising tour to Gambia, which has been postponed several times. Ten association members and four cars set off on the 6,500 kilometre journey to the village of Jahaly at 5:00 this morning.

“The world is closer than you think. It’s great that you are putting so much personal commitment and heart and soul into helping in The Gambia and being there. What you are doing makes me a little proud!” This was said by Mayor Harald Stindt yesterday afternoon during the official farewell of the tour participants in front of the Stadland-Rodenkirchen town hall.

The group is on the road with two minibuses, an ambulance and a passenger car station wagon. It is planned to use the ambulance as a replacement vehicle for the Jahahly Health Centre. The other vehicles will be sold to enable the buyers to build up their own livelihoods, for example as minibus/taxi entrepreneurs.

The fundraising tour leads through France, Spain, Morocco, the Western Sahara and Senegal to The Gambia in West Africa. The group plans to arrive in The Gambia on 27.10.2022.

The tour had to be postponed three times. In 2017 because of the unclear political situation in The Gambia after the fall of ex-president Yayah Jammeh, in 2020 and 2021 because of Corona/COVID-19.

We report on the progress of the fundraising tour with photos and videos on Facebook here  and Instagram here

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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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After many weeks of preparation, Project Aid The Gambia launches its revamped Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn presence.

In cooperation with Project Aid, the digital agency helllicht, Frankfurt/M., developed an overarching concept for the association’s social media presence. Uniform graphic elements make Project Aid The Gambia unmistakable and recognisable in all social media channels. We at Project Aid want to become more visible as a non-profit brand for the young generation.

Starting today, we will regularly report about us and our activities in different formats. The curved lines in the graphics symbolise the River Gambia, which gives the country its distinctive character.

Our vision: We want to sustainably improve health, education and employment in rural Gambia.

Our mission: We work transparently, effectively, provide help for self-help and represent The Gambia’s concerns in Germany.

As a first step, we have unified the names of all our social media profiles. Our appearances on all social media channels are now called like our association in Germany: Projekthilfe Gambia (Project Aid The Gambia). In this context, we have parted with the name “Buschklinik” (bush clinic). The name had historical reasons. In the meantime, it is no longer appropriate. The “bush clinic” is the Jahaly Health Centre – a modern, clean health station. It no longer has anything to do with the bush. Friends in The Gambia have also pointed this out to us. We are very grateful for that.

The goal of our activities on social media: On social media, we establish Project Aid The Gambia as a voice for development in The Gambia. We show how good deeds can be carried to the outside world even as a small association and how the young generation can be carried along. This is of great importance because in the medium term there will also be a change of generations among the people who run Project Aid. Through informative, personal and honest storytelling, we want to inspire followers for our projects, for us as an association and for The Gambia as a country.

The digital agency helllicht (claim: “We are the good guys”) created the concept on a voluntary basis as part of its CSR activities. In this way, they are taking on social responsibility and showing social commitment. We thank them for this from the bottom of our hearts.

Ulfert Engelkes, board member of Project Aid The Gambia: “We have the stories, and helllicht has the expertise on how to present our content professionally. It’s a good match.”

The next step is already being worked on at helllicht: a revised website. We are really looking forward to our new business card on the web. It will be ready in autumn. By the way: with the publication of our new website, you can find us on the net at www.projekthilfe-gambia.org.

Here are the links to the social media channels of Project Aid:

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

Twitter

YouTube

Please follow us :-) Thank you very much.

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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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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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The Jahaly-Madina kindergarten in Jahaly is finally allowed to reopen on October 28th after a forced break of more than seven months. Schools and kindergartens in The Gambia have been closed since March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For two days, teachers and educators have been preparing the reopening of the kindergarten. First of all, the kindergarten team cleaned all the classrooms from the dust of the last seven months. Then the rooms are cleaned and the outside area is brought back to shape. Minor repairs to the buildings are also necessary. Broken chairs are repaired. Finally, the team develops a hygiene concept in order to meet the requirements of the health authorities. Two days ago, all buildings were thoroughly fumigated by volunteers from the Gambia Red Cross. Since yesterday, parents can register their children for admission to the kindergarten. Not to forget the content-related preparation for the upcoming academic year.

While the kindergarten was closed, all of the Jahaly Health Centre’s patients were escorted across the kindergarten compound – hands were washed and disinfected and masks were distributed to each patient. The classrooms and the large open stage at the playground were used as a waiting area in order to be able to keep the 1.50 meter distance between the patients. The team of Jahaly Health centre now has to work out an alternative setting for this.

The Gambia is the country in West Africa that has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, no corona infection has been found in Jahaly – but there are also no test options available at all.