The chairman, accompanied by her husband, revisited Gambia end May, in order to discuss running projects and to visit current ones, among which the health center at Sifoe, including the nurseries of the Gamrupa Europe Foundation.
Yanusa Alhagie Sowe, the stately birth assistant, was not present. Once every month, he returns to his birth place north of the country.
Esba, the state nurse, working under the orders of Yanusa, was there and, filled with pride, showed us the entire complex.
Last week Patrick Geysels, accompanied by his wife, visited Gambia, combining work trip and short holiday in the sun.
Last years’ projects, following the Antwerp-Banjul challenge, were revisited. This year special attention went to the projects of the maternity hospitals, as well as the new school at Sifoe. These projects received full support by GAMRUPA.
Waar de geboorte van een kind het mooiste moet zijn wat een familie overkomt, viel dat voor de familie van Kalifa Kanteh uit Sifoe in Gambia, bestuurslid Association GamRuPA (The Gambia), anders uit. Van dichtbij zag Kanteh hoe de moeder van zijn neefje het leven liet op haar kraambed, een matras in de hoek van een kleine kamer zonder een arts of kraamkliniek in de wijde omgeving om hulp te bieden. Een situatie die al vele vrouwen in deze plattelandsregio het leven heeft gekost. Want waar moet je heen wanneer de dichtstbijzijnde kraamkliniek nauwelijks plaats heeft en zich in een stad bevindt, ver weg van je dorp?
Voor de dames op bijgevoegde foto en andere duizenden zwangere vrouwen, moeders en kinderen in Sifoe en omgeving is dit vandaag de dag wel anders. Zij kunnen terecht in de kraamkamers van de kliniek in een aanbouw van de bestaande gezondheidspost in Sifoe, gerealiseerd door Stichting Gamrupa Europe, VZW Gamrupa Europe -Belgium en Association GamRuPA (The Gambia). Een project dat letterlijk uit nood geboren werd, nadat Kalifa Kanteh gesterkt door dorpsbewoners van Sifoe, een noodkreet uitte dat er hulp moest komen voor moeder en kind om het hoge sterftecijfer tijdens geboortes te verminderen.
Gradually, I pick up again on daily life. Henny and I returned about two weeks ago, whilst Gerrit and Ellen one week. We are relieved that there is no more severe frost. Several times a day, our thoughts return to Sifoe, to various situations, to the nice people and quite obviously to the fabulous opening or transfer feast of the nurseries. How they had outdone themselves to realize the program! Under the supervision of an imam, two cows had been slaughtered. Halal as it should be. The most delicious recipes are exchanged and prepared at different spots.
We are so far: the building of the labor ward is ready. The container with goods and equipment for the facility is being packed and will arrive by the end of January, and on 4 February the labor ward will open officially and be handed over to the village community. This of course will be done with a lot of festivities!
News from the labor ward construction site
Working in Africa
Working in Africa is very different from working in Europe. The average hourly rate for a worker is 25 dalasi, what converts to about 50 cent. On the construction site for the labor ward in Sifoe you regularly see between twenty and thirty people working. But only a few of these are paid. People from Sifoe waive payment and does the work as volunteers. It is incredible how hard these people work. In the burning heat of 40 degrees Celsius up the ladder and down the ladder to cast a concrete pole.
Still there is a considerable problem, because these workers have families en must be able to send their children to school. And they have gardens to tend to and crops to harvest. But the workers would indignantly refuse it if we were to propose to pay for the hours they work on the labor ward. Someday a son or daughter shall be born in one of these rooms. Some day one of their grandchildren shall get their vaccinations here. - But they also have to eat.
Fortunately the problem has now been recognized and a middle ground has been found. The workers get an allowance for use of their own tools, so that they can replace them when they are worn out. They shall work no more than three days per week on the construction if they have a job that generates income.
The labor ward and the refurbished medical post have become one of the attractions of Sifoe, The people that travel along the Brikama-Gunjur road follow the progress of the project with interest, and when the village gets official visits the alkalo (village chief) gives the visitors a tour of the facilities.
On 24 August Gambia’s ambassador in France visited Sifoe.
During the visit the ambassador promised to support the cooperation with the French charity organisation Bellac Cité that also is present in Sifoe.
It worked! Thanks to the support of small and large sponsors, the practical assistance of BIS (Bureau of International Cooperation), and the agreed contribution from Wilde Ganzen we got the budgeted amount of € 73.079.57 together.
When Ellen Meulenveld, the chairperson of Gamrupa Europe, was recently in The Gambia and made the big news known the reactions were very different. Surprise, happiness, loud cheers, singing, dancing. Others were in tears and thanked Allah. They could hardly believe it.
She was a bit bewildered herself. For more than a year we had put every free minute into it, talked our tongues in blisters, written the fingers blue, and seen the phone bill rising alarmingly. And we were relieved that it was successful.
In order to improve the health of mothers and reduce maternal and child deaths in childbirth the population in Sifoe, Gambia, want to set up a maternity clinic, where women can give birth in safe conditions and under the supervision of a qualified midwife.
In cooperation with Martine Stoppelenburg from BIS Bureau Internationale Samenwerking, we have sent our project plan for construction of the maternity clinic in Sifoe asking for their support.
The first donor was ASN-Bank, that asked us to participate in their world map with charities they support. Of course we want to participate.
Also Pater Eusebius Kemp Stichting has made a donation. See newsletter in Read More.