News from The Gambia

Een grote ketel over een vuurOm voor 4.000 mensen te koken maak je 20 vuren. Op ieder vuur plaats je een grote ketel. Je doet een hele zak rijst in elke ketel. Dan slacht je twee koeien en verdeel je het vlees over de ketels. Je voegt olie, suiker en veel groenten toe. En dan laat je het 4 uur koken.

De Sifoe Lower Basic School moest een bijeenkomst organise­ren voor alle scholen in het schooldistrict. Dat was een grote logi­stieke en economische uitdaging. Ieder in het dorp droeg bij, inclusief Gamrupa.

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Under de palm leavesOur president, Ellen Meulenveld, has already several times resolved to visit the botanical garden in Bakau.  Every time something got in the way, but Monday 2 June she finally suc­ceeded.

The garden with medical plants and trees was viewed first.  Then the group went to the flowering trees and plants of the 'normal' botanical garden.

The botanical garden is really a must to see.  Take your time for it and let all the knowledge that Bernhard will pass on influence you.  This alone shall give you a nice dose of rest and relaxation.  Who ever said that walking was strenuous?  In the botanical garden it is just the other way around.  You'll come back happy and relaxed.

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Gamrupa The Gambia interviewed

The interview was conducted by Janakoto Radio FM in Gunjur and concerned the development of the community where Gamrupa Gambia started, Sifoe village, and The Gambia as a whole.

1.  Who founded Gamrupa? 
Gamrupa was founded by Elberta Meulenveld-de Klerck en Kalifa Kanteh, supported by Lamin E. Camara and Lamin Badjie.

2.  When was Gamrupa founded?
It was founded in 2004 and officially registered with the Gambian government in 2007.

3.  Who are the members?
The women's groups in Sifoe merged to form one larger organisation called Rural Poor Association The Gambia (Gamrupa).  The groups were of different size.  The groups took upon themselves to contribute  D 50.00 monthly to start a Gamrupa account.

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Participants in the partyThe schools in Kombo South District of the West Coast region organised on Saturday 7 June 2014 a district party held at Sifoe Lower Basic School.  The party was sponsored by His Excellency Alhagie, pro­fessor, DR Yaya A.J.J.Jammeh, President of The Gambia during his annual Meet the People tour.  The regio­nal Education Director Mr. Babucarr Suwareh and his entourage at­tended on a supervisory basis.

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A two-story building with eight classrooms

Signing the contractGamrupa Gambia in col­laboration with its Europ­ean counterpart Gamru­pa Europe signed on Saturday 7 June 2014 a contract for the con­struct­ion of classrooms at Sifoe Lower Basic School. The contract is awarded to Jarju Con­struction Company in Lamin Village.  The com­munity shall contribute 2265 man-days of volun­tary labor.  The con­struction is scheduled for a period of ten months commencing August 2014 and until May 2015. 

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Electricity enters Sifoe. 

It is still wavering, but you see more and more compounds where the yard is lit in the evening.  Down the drain with the delightful dark hours around a small fire, where the whole family gathers to reflect on the events of the day.  Good bye night sky with your brilliant starts, hello to swarms of mosquitoes around the lamp.

Suddenly all sorts of things become a "must".  Social workers distribute a range of machines, from juice squeezers to washing machines and dryers, and charging stations for the thousands of mobile phones and laptops.

I remember the first years after World War Two in Arnhem.  In many countries people were sympathetic and collected clothing, furniture, pots and pans.  Great, we were happy with that.  But .... it soon became apparent that many articles were not usable, the dresses were worn out, the pans leaked, and flashlights were rusted inside by leaking batteries.  We felt miserable.

Within a few years Gambia will be floated with inferior products that cannot be replaced by better ones because they are not available or are too expensive for the rural people.  We cannot and must not skip 70 years of development in one step, because this sudden "progress" has a very dark side to it.  Gamrupa tries consciously to deal with this reality.  We look for simple things in good quality and encourages people to learn how to use them, how to maintain and repair them.

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At the pole in Badala Park Hotel you will daily meet people from the Netherlands and other European countries, especially Scandinavians and Englishmen. The events of the day, the positive and negative experiences in projects, the special birds that were spotted, the conquests on the beach, or the hangover after last night when the beer flowed so nice and cool are the topics of conversation. But in the Dutch group it is especially also health issues. The disease of the permanent members of this group of private aid workers, those who are no longer with his, or the problems that affect these seniors.

There is for example a gentleman that cannot stand or walk without braces. His disability has become worse in recent years. Through the regular driver who he hires when he goes to families or schools he heard about a marabou (a local healer) that does amazing things with arms or legs. If it does not help, then it does no harm either.

He let himself bring to him and got a good treatment.  After about half an hour the maraboe said:   "Just stand up." He could get up and walk with just a walking stick.  Not just at that moment, but days later. The cost? 2000 dalasi 2000, the set price (€ 40, -).

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Round tablesEvery morning an amusing play takes place on the breakfast terrace of Badala Park Hotel in Kotu. Especially if the hotel is fully booked.  Guests staying in blocks of two floors with ten double rooms and further in some low-rise buildings.  We are about two hundred people.

They eat breakfast on a terrace with fourteen tables which three or four chairs. Fortunately, not everyone eat breakfast at the same time, but it is still a daily occurrence that seats move from one table to another, so that some tables will be without chairs.

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Art village mother On the road to Tanji there is an arrow pointing to the Art Village. A young man welcomes us. The Art Village is an oasis of calm, although a lot of people seem to be busy getting the place ready for a workshop of one hundred people tomorrow morning. We are told about the origin of the village, once a haunted place where many diseases occurred and many people died. The present forest was cut down, thereby ruining the environment. You can just imagine the succession of disasters. The village was deserted, the houses fell apart, most of them built from mud blocks. An artist that studied in Leiden, bought the land, began with the planting of trees, collected a spiritual-artistic group around him and rebuilt the houses in different materials and techniques.

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Gambia is known for its rich bird life. Well organized birding trips depart from the Netherlands led by ornithologists and avid birdwatchers. Sometimes it is tours, other times it is excursions from a fixed point on and around the river or in the delta, such as the ‘Biesbosch.’ Last week someone was overjoyed with her 250th specie.

Birds come in all sizes, shapes, weights, designs and color combinations. If you pay attention to their sounds, then the first one around our hotel begins to inflate itself and continues with a very long drawn out whiste like a kettle! Only then the others another release their beaks.

The Magpie or something that looks like it screams just as loud as ours, and the parrots you could bring to at the zoos in the Netherlands. You will not hear any difference.

Through the dense foliage of the trees you cannot see many birds, but you hear them indeed. It's like there's an election campaign underway.

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We develop nobody!
People develop themselves!
But we support development!