There are some little things in life we can't do without, yet they are unaffordable to most of the world. Providing them to others make our lives meaningful in this world and (for those who believe in it) in the hereafter. Clean water is at the top of that list!"
* Dr Karamo NM Sonko, Chairman, Heeno International
Present at the ceremony were the Honourable Minister of Energy, Mr Fafa Sanyang, the President of the Gambia Federation of the Disabled, Mr Muhammad Krubally, and about 25 of his members, the Acting CEO of GIEPA, Mr Momodou Drammeh, CEO of Supersonicz Microfinance, Mr Njundu Fatty, Mr David Jeng of Bliss Executives and UNCTAD-EMPRETEC, and two former cabinet Ministers.
Also present were the Honourable Musa Sillah, Director for Africa and Latin America of the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Professor Ali Dawood from Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Professor Chang Yeun, also of Khalifa University.
Mr Krubally is the first and only vision impaired Gambian magistrate and he gave a very eloquent speech about the conditions, needs and abilities of the disabled. Dr Sonko made a presentation on disability, the origins and terms of the Fund, and the implications and importance of supporting the disabled. Several speakers from the floor, including Professor Chang, Mrs Adelaide Sosseh, former chairperson of EFA Campaign Network Gambia Chapter, and a speech impaired member of GFD, Mr Lamin Ceesay, made passionate and inspiring statements from the floor.
The MOU for the financing, management and operations of the Fund was signed by Heeno, Taf, GFD, GIEPA, and Bliss/EMPRETEC. About D100,000 was raised through the sale of Dr Sonko's The Gambia: Reflections on the Road Ahead, which was formally launched in his village of Sintet on July 6. Unemployed villagers, even those who have never been to school, scrambled for all the copies of the booklet taken to the village and voluntarily paid for them any price they could. They also committed to selling another 5,000 copies in order to raise D250,000 to set up a Village Development Fund to finance the education of their children and provide micro credit loans for the neediest among them.
In addition to the cash raised, a number of Gambian business men and women also offered scholarships, equipment and training for the disabled during the launching ceremony at Madiba Mall.
The Gambian women are noted for their interest in the agricultural sector. They grow rice, vegetables and market various types of fruits. However, the Gambian woman has always suffered from very serious financial lapses and lack of markets for their products. For more than 30 years, in the village of Sintet, village women have been growing a variety of vegetables but many vegetables are destroyed by animals due to a lack of fencing of their community gardens.
In addition, the produce from the garden are also poorly marketed due to a lack of storage facilities. HI has begun working with the village women and with support from their families has installed a chain like barbwire fences around the three communal gardens in the village to prevent animals from destroying their produce. HI has also donated garden seeds to the women of Sintet to support them with their vegetable gardening and dug wells in one of the gardens with water problems.
HI has also purchased a milling machine for the village because previously women were travelling several kilometers to mill their grains in neighboring villages. A modest fee is charged for the use of the milling machine and any income from the garden and the milling machine are used for the maintenance of the machine and other financial problems that the village women may face. An estimated 1200 women work in the three gardens.
Another village that has received support from HI is Pakalinding village. The village of Pakalinding is not too far from the regional capital, Mansakonko, and has suffered for many years from major floods, making it dangerous and sometimes impossible for the women to reach their farms. HI, in association with the village leaders, financed the construction of better road access to the rice field ensuring that the women of Pakalinding village can now reach their rice fields without any difficulties.
The Gambia River and its numerous creeks over the years have suffered from serious deforestation of the mangrove swamps, creating negative consequences for fisheries and agriculture along the river. This has affected the cultivation of rice which is the Gambia's stable food and other aspects of the life of people who live along the river.
Therefore, HI has launched a mangrove rehabilitation program in the Gambia. The pilot project was launched in Sintet village about 80km from the capital Banjul involving two thousand people from Sintet and its surrounding villages. Over five thousand mangroves were planted along a 300m trench of which over three thousand have already germinated. The District Forest Officer regarded the project as a big success and said the trial is a sure sign that mangrove rehabilitation can work. The project will benefit over 6000 people. In addition, mangrove seedlings were planted about 500m from the village.
The project will boost fishing, thereby encouraging young men to join the industry thus enabling the villagers to gain employment through HI finance. This project will additionally help to restore and protect the environment which will expose the younger generation to an eco-system that was preserved by today.
HI has already approved funding for Phase II of this project.
St Augustine Boys' Senior Secondary School is the oldest Catholic high school in The Gambia and one of the most famous schools in the country. The school is located in the capital of the Gambia: Banjul. St Augustine Boys School has been existence since 1921 and currently has 1500 pupils. The school has been in very serious financial problems and requires restorations and renovations. The School's toilet facilities were in a condition that was simply unfit for human use so HI, in collaboration with the school's Alumni Association in the USA, financed the rehabilitation of the school toilet facilities through a local contractor.
St. John Boscoe School, another school owned by the Catholic mission in The Gambia, serves Sintet and its neighboring villages and the first building of the school was constructed in 1955 by Catholic missionaries. It started to fall apart due to a lack of adequate maintenance over the years. This school has educated many prominent Gambians (including HI's Chairman) whom have and continue to serve at the highest levels of the Gambian Government as well as in international organization and businesses. HI financed the complete reconstruction of the building which is now being used by the pupils, benefitting its 800 pupils.
HI supported the first-ever eye screening exercises in both Sintet and Kwinella villages. Before the intervention of HI, many people with complicated eye conditions became totally blind.
Most of the eye conditions seen were caused by the effects of traditional medicines. In Kwinella, 270 students were screened at both Kwinella Lower and Upper Basic School, and 23 were identified with refractive error and within the community of Kwinella 74 people were screened; 10 were identified with cataracts and 7 with refractive error. In Sintet, 205 patients were screened; 23 were cataract patients, 8 had pterrygium and 30 with refractive error.
All patients with cataracts and pterrygium underwent successful surgery. Patients with refractive error were given reading or sun glasses to correct their vision whilst other patients were given some medication such as tetracyline, chloramphenicol, sodium cromoglycate, dexamethasone, cipro.
An elderly gentleman from Casamance (Senegal) was fortunate enough to attend the eye screening exercise at Sintet. He reported that he had been blind for 5 years and found life to be very difficult. After receiving successful surgery, he was able to see and danced all round the health centre thanking God for restoring his eye sight.
Sintet Health Centre
Sintet Health Centre is the main health centre in Foni Jarrol District providing health care to all the people of Foni Jarrol, surrounding regions and even beyond the borders of the Gambia. Approximately 4000 patients benefit from the health service rendered by the health facilities. The centre is run by a Nurse-in-Charge, one RN Nurse, one Community Health Nurse, a public health office and three nurse attendants. Before the intervention of HI, the health facility did not have electricity, water, enough drugs or a medical doctor. This has led to serious medical conditions developing that eventually lead to the death of some patients.
HI is now supporting the centre to compliment the efforts of the Government by installing water and electricity facilities. HI also provides medical drugs and pays for the services of a medical doctor who runs a General Clinic every Sunday to handle critical cases and emergencies that require immediate professional medical intervention. This enables patients to be examined thoroughly and treated on site, or referred to the hospital in the Gambian capital. On average, the number of cases seen on general clinic days (Sunday) amounts to one hundred and fifty patients. The most common cases seen at the clinic are: malaria and hypertension forming the highest, PUD, diabetes, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, skin and eye infections, hernia, several orthopedic cases, gynecological and obstetrics cases. Since the start of service rendered by the Doctor, there has been a remarkable improvement in the health status of the people in the region.
Hl, in their commitment to attaining one of its key objectives, has shipped medical supplies several times, through its USA Rep, Mr Sariang Marong, for distribution among rural clinics throughout the Gambia. The medical supplies include breathing bags, IV administration sets, oral sponge swabs, biopsy needles, blood collection sets, exam gloves, bed pads -- heavy, nasal oxygen cannulas, pap smear applicators, cleaner/detergent/disinfectant, blood pressure sets, ventilation tubes, resuscitators, hot packs, surgical gloves, IV extension sets, tourniquets, blood drawing kits, sterile surgical gloves, spirometers, Normosol-R pH 7.4 IV solution, plastic respiratory connectors, stethoscopes, respiratory filters, suture removal kits, eye shields, eye pads, bed pads, IV start kits, scissors, safety razors, shave cream, MRI kits, ear dressing kits, nasal foreign body remover, nasal aspirators, nasal tools, ear ventilation tubes, and throat packs.
Although water is one of the basic necessities in life, there is a general problem of water availability and quality in the rural areas of The Gambia. In the case of Sintet, the only proximate source of water is shallow wells next to dirty swamps and when it rains all the water in the village runs down to the traditional shallow wells. These water sources dry up during every dry season and clean water is a major problem for the inhabitants. However, with this the only source of water, they drink it and use it for washing, cooking, bathing and for their animals.
HI has provided the people of Sintet with a borehole to enable them to access clean, safe drinking water. This borehole will be used for different purposes in the village, and neighboring institutions to save people, especially children and women, from long distance travel on foot to fetch water especially during the dry season. This water supply will effectively reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases and moreover enable the community to have access to clean water, leaving children to go to school and receive an education. HI has also provided Nyarika Sonko Islamic School in Sintet, with water.
HI, with the assistance of its sister Foundation, the Fresh Start, organized a regional clinic on October 19th and 20th, 2014, in Sintet village in Foni Jarol District, Western Region, The Gambia, sponsored by Mr Tony Trevisan (TT) from Australia. It attracted 261 patients from the neighbouring villages in Foni, Kiang and the Casamance region of Senegal. The clinic began with health education. Patients were sensitized on how to take proper care of their eyes and the effects of some of the traditional eye medicines in the eye.
DIFFERENT EYE CONDITIONS DIAGNOSED