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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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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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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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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:

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It is a milestone in the history of Jahaly Health Centre: since February 15th, 2019, almost 28 years after the opening, the project compound has been connected to the public electricity grid. Even though the clinic has had its own solar power system since 1991 and for decades was the only place in the entire area with its own uninterruptible power supply, the connection to the public power grid is important as a reserve in case of technical problems with solar system or storage batteries. This was the case for several months at the end of 2018: the storage batteries had reached the end of their lifespan and had to be renewed. It took several months for the fault to be localized and for new batteries to be ordered, delivered and installed. Now, in case of technical problems with the solar system, it is easy to switch to the public electricity grid.

As early as the end of 2017, the overland power lines along the South Bank Road had arrived from the coastal region in Jahaly. During 2018, some families in Jahaly who could afford it were connected to the grid. It was not until the middle of January 2019 that we noticed that the electricity subdistribution of the village ended at a power pole directly opposite the Jahaly Health Centre. In an absolute record time of only two weeks, the power line was extended in cooperation with the Gambian electricity supplier Nawec over the highway to the project site and connected to the island network of the clinic and kindergarten. To do this, a large power pole had to be delivered by tractor-trailer to cross the highway and set up with a crane truck, the cables had to be laid and an electricity meter had to be installed. Without the many years of good contacts in The Gambia and without the active support of the  electric company “General Engeneering” run by Charles M’bye, who is the chairman of Project Aid The Gambia, it would never have been that easy. Nocturnal births in the light of flashlights or cell phone lights are now a thing of the past. We are very happy.

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On 24.01.2019 Project Aid The Gambia, Projekthilfe Gambia e.V. (Germany)  and Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister of Health *, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve health care in the rural Gambia.

1. Initial situation
The state health service in The Gambia is disastrous. The larger state run hospitals lack medicines and medical devices. The same applies to rural health centers spread across the country.

The rural health centers  are structurally and hygienically in a desolate condition. Very few have a supply of electricity and running water. Health centers connected to the electricity grid have a monthly budget for electricity (“cash power”) that is too small and often used up in the middle of the month. Nocturnal births take place in the light of flashlights or cell phones.

The lack of medicines means that patients need to buy their medicines for treatment in nearby private pharmacies at overpriced prices. These private pharmacies are operated by well-trained nurses who were formerly employed in the state health care system and are now lacking the state system.

Specialist doctors are missing throughout the country. For example, in Gambia there is only one diabetologist who can treat only a very small number of diabetics – and that only in the capital  area of Banjul and only with the help of an association in Germany.

Many rural nurses have left the civil service because the ministry can not provide them and their families with housing in or near the health centers.

Medical equipment donated from Germany and other European countries often does not last long, as there are no training ocapacities for technical personnel and / or lack of money for maintenance and repairs.

In 2011/2012, Project Aid The Gambia e.V., with funding from the German BMZ (Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development), rebuilt the state run health centre in the village of Njaba Kunda as a model clinic and handed it over to the Gambian Ministry of Health.

In 2009/2010 Project Aid The Gambia e.V. carried out a structural survey of all 33 then existing rural health centers. Floor plan drawings and photos are available from that survey.

Through the project described below The Gambia could become a model region in Africa.

2. Project description

Buildings / Equipment

  • The health centers shall be renovated / renovated.
  • The hygienic conditions shall be improved: creation of a water supply, tiling of all premises etc.
  • In each chealth centre a small laboratory shall be set up
  • Housing for staff, not from the surrounding villages, should be created (new building)
  • Establishment of a central “Facility Management” team of local craftsmen who are responsible for maintenance / repairs of the buildings (planned: over a period of 10 years after initial   renovation or new construction

Energy and water supply

  • If possible, all rural health centers shall be equipped with an uninterruptible 24/7 (solar) power and water supply – by installing small PV systems including storage batteries.

Medical Equipment

  • Medical equipment (second-hand) for state hospitals shall be get hold of in Germany (donation or purchase) and be shipped to The Gambia
  • Training for technical personnel
  • Creating a facility for maintenance / repair of medical equipment locally in The Gambia

Drug supply

  • The existing system of free delivery of – non-existing medicines  – to patients shall be abolished. Patients shall in the future purchase prescribed drugs at the purchase price (wholesale prices) plus 10% surcharge. This has already been agreed in the present MOU.
  • From drug sales and patient treatment fees, new medicines can be purchased
  • The procurement of medicines incl. Logistics (delivery / storage) should be outsourced to local private wholesale pharmacies.
  • This would cut off the business basis of the small private pharmacies in the neighborhoods of the health centers. The owners  (nurses) would return to the state health service.

 

Health Centre App

Project Aid Thee Gambia is currently developing an App for smartphones, with which the operation of a health centers can be completed, including

  • Registration of patients
  • Revenue fees for medical treatment and laboratory services
  • Diagnosis / treatment inclunding medical guidelines for the treatment / medication of the most common diseases
  • Laboratory results
  • Issue / prescription of medication
  • Possibility of data transfer from  of symptoms / diseases to UN / WHO or other international organizations.

The app sends all data daily and automatically for evaluation to a central server (via Internet or SMS)

Information on the number of patients treated and diseases are available on the same day.
The accumulation of diseases in specific places / regions and possible incipient epidemics can be detected and combated at an early stage.
Information about the number of medicines issued is available on the same day and can be used for reordering / logistics.
In larger health stations, a small network (“intranet”) with server (PC, laptop) for data storage / forwarding must be set up. Prerequisite for this is an uninterruptible 24/7 power supply. This is guaranteed by the installed PV system(s) and storage batteries.

 

3. Status of the Project 

At the moment Project Aid The Gambia is awaiting information from the Gambian Ministry of Health about

  • Number / designation of the rural health centers to be renovated / renovated
  • structural condition of each health centre
  • Connection to the mains
  • staffing
  • Number of patients / year
  • Existing medical equipment in state hospitals
  • lack of medical equipment in state hospitals

Subsequently, the financing requirement can be determined, a cost calculation and a scheduling can be worked out. At present, partners are being sought for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

* Update: On March 15th, 2019, the Minister of Health, Dr. Isatou Touray, was appointed as the Vice President. On March 27th, 2019, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh was appointed as the new Minister of Health.

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DSC_0447-klein Upps – we are sorry. This post is only available in German ;-(

Video: Ankunft Schulmöbel in Jahaly (2018)

Bildergalerie

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20170730_MK-Mass-Haddy-mit-Kinderakten-01The cooperation between Project Aid The Gambia (International NGO A57)  and the Friedensdorf International (Peace Village) in Oberhausen/Germany will be continued. The two organizations recently confirmed this after a discussion. In October the next mission of Peace Village in The Gambia will take place. Sick and injured children, who can not be helped medically in The Gambia, are presented to the members of the team of Peace Village. The team then decides on the spot, which children  can be treated overseas in Germany. At the moment the management team at our project office in Manjai Kunda saves the medical reports and documents of the children who are on the waiting list for overseas treatment by Peace Village. In order to improve the medical preparations for overseas treatments in Germany and to ensure professional preliminary examinations, Project Aid plans to expand the management team by a trained nurse and to work with the MRC (Medical Research Council) in The Gambia. After the return of the children to the Gambia, the nurse will also look for their aftertreatment.