At the beginning of January, Dirk Depoorter and Dirk Fannes go on a mission to The Gambia. Together with the local Gammol team, they want to evaluate the operation in Gambia, visit projects of the past year, prepare new projects, make agreements with local authorities and with local suppliers. Dirk Depoorter made a travelogue. This is the second part, part 1 you will find lower ...

5 January 2020

New nursery school in Kartong

Sunday, but no rest day ...

We start our day with a visit to the new school that we had built in Kartong for the VZW Halaai Xale from Astrid. Our employees Omar and Lamin helped building the school, under the supervision of a contractor Momodou Faye. It is clear that they have learned a lot in building the school. The finishing has yet to be done, but it is already visible with how much care and attention to detail the school has been constructed, very high quality. This is the quality that we must strive for: tiled floors, finished and sealed roofs, finished ceilings (allowing better insulation against the heat). Nice work!

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Lamin, Dirk F, Omar en Dirk D in front of the new school in Kartong

 

We just jump into Astrids house, where we see Batou again. The purpose of this visit is to see the size of the house, which installations are provided... As inspiration for our plans.

 

Bamindorr

In Bamindorr, Omar and Lamin, along with the village, have placed extensions. We visit the different extensions. There are 7 extensions in Bamindorr and it is nice to notice that they all work and are used! When we arrive at the pump installation itself, we are warmly welcomed by the village council. Omar addresses them immediately, and we notice that he picks up our previous groceries, and starts working on it himself: maintenance of the pumps, cleaning of the solar panels, repair of demolished cranes, construction of a piggy bank for repairs, etc. , that's what we want to see from Omar.

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Vegetable gardens in Bamindorr, which use the water from our pump. Top!

 

Falaa

Then we visit our pump in Falaa, and there too the extensions have been placed by Omar and Lamin, together with the villagers. The installation is a bit older, and a construction has been placed above the taps, so that they cannot be stolen. One of the taps is drained for a private garden. And when we look at the extensions, we notice that one of the extensions is also tapped for a private home. That is of course not what we want to achieve with our pumps. Of the 6 extensions that have been placed, 1 is in the hands of a private person. It is unclear whether agreements have been made on this or not?

Falaa

Thanks to this water, a vegetable garden will soon come here too

 

Own property

During our meeting with the VDC from Sanyang, we indicated that we were interested in a well-located building plot. The idea behind this is to be able to build something, where we could invite our sponsors, where training can be given, or simply as a hotel for vacation. We would invest 100% of the proceeds in our projects in The Gambia. Our next stop is therefore to visit a land in Sanyang, but that does not correspond to what we are looking for ...

Sanyang Beach

Next short stop, on the way to the fish market on the beach of Sanyang, is an old water pump powered by a windmill. Probably one of the first pumps installed by Gammol. The pump no longer functions ...

We continue to the beach, where we look at the pump that supplies water to the fish market, a building that was also set up by Gammol and whose roof we recently repaired. The water pump and the building where the pump is in are in poor condition but working. Leaking pipe, moldy walls. We walk to the fish market, a few hundred meters further. One of the faucets is leaking. Omar is approached by one of the managers of the market, who asks us to repair everything. Apparently the fish market pays an amount to Sanyang village for the use of the water. Omar appeals to us and we make it clear to the person in charge of the market that we will only do repairs if it is paid for. No more everything for free. In this way we hope that they themselves become responsible and take care of their installation. We cannot invest every dalasi that we have to invest in repairs in projects. Unless they are defects that are not due to irresponsible use, we decide to let pay for our repairs.

 

Bunkele Nema

Last source we visit today is this one from Bunkele Nema. The pump that stands on the floor of the old Lamin, a retired Gammol employee, but that is apparently also used by the gardens of the compounds in the area. Pump works on electricity.

 

Prepare MoU

We spend the rest of the day preparing the new MoU (memorandum of understanding) for the further use of our Gammol house in Sanyang, agreements we have to make with Omar and Lamin, and discussing alternatives regarding the use of our Gammol house.

We also have an appointment with the owner of the hotel where we stay, to discuss our plans to buy a plot of land on which we can build. She has land next to the hotel, and she is willing to sell this. Very nice view of the ocean, from a hill, 500m from the sea ... to be continued.

 

6 January 2020

Gammol house

Monday morning we discuss with Omar and Lamin in our Gammol house to find out what it takes to upgrade the Gammol house at no big extra cost. So that we can provide the students and nurses who come to do an internship or work here with more than decent accommodation. And so that the other rooms can also be used as offices and reception areas. In addition, the garage must be given a different purpose as a meeting room for the VDC. They are a number of much-needed repairs and renovations, but without major investments.

Visit Gunjur

202001 Gunjur01We visit one of our larger installations in Gunjur: higher tower, 3 solar panels, built in 2011. Here too we have to explain how to maintain and keep the panels clean. A little further in the village we see a second installation, placed by the Lions, double water barrel, 8 panels (also dirty). In the village 11 cranes and they have connected the 2 installations. Beautiful!

Good conversation with the village leaders, who are very grateful to us. We notice that the installations are handled with care. For example, are all faucets placed in a concrete base to protect them against damage?

Before we return to our Gammol home, we visit the man who received the wound care training from Mien and Marijke. He shows us his material and logbook. Good to see how such a good result can be achieved with few resources.

 

 

 

Signing of the MoU

Back to the Gammol house, appointment with the VDC to sign the new MoU. Agreement for the next 10 years. The MoU as proposed by us is accepted and signed by the VDC and ourselves. Only the Alkalo (village elder) still has to sign, but that is a formality.

202001 Mou01We agree that we will provide them with a room that the VDC can use for the further development of the village, and we will do all wath is necessary to improve the Gammol house. In return, we do not pay rent. In addition, we agree that we will continue to invest in projects in Sanyang, which is a logical agreement given the needs.

 

 

 

Own property?

In addition, we discuss with them our plan to buy a plot of land, and what our intention is ... whereupon Lamin Bojang, the chairman of the VDC, suggests that we look at another piece of land that might better meet our expectations. We also discuss what is needed to implement our plans. It is essential that we receive permission from both the VDC of Sanyang and the GTB (Gambia Tourism Board). VDC is already behind our project.

Together with Lamin Bojang we will look at the piece of land. Beautifully situated on the beach of Sanyang. On the left a villa of a Lebanese, on the right another Spanish NGO, Amigos de Gambia, who are also building. A ground of + -28 m on + -60 m. Lamin immediately arranges an appointment with the responsible official of the GTB in Serekunda.

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Serekunda

In the afternoon we went to Serekunda for a number of appointments:

  • GTB: the official gives us a detailed explanation of what is needed to submit an application for our project on the beach at Sanyang. Simplified business plan. Work for when we are back in Belgium.
  • SWE GAM: appointment with the owner, Ibrahim Cole. The pumps will now be installed with its help and installations. In collaboration with Omar and Lamin. In addition, we ask for his advice regarding the pump in Dimbaya Village, and we check for possible other locations where there would be a need for clean water. The community from Sinchuwuri (+ -500 people) would not have water, only during the rainy season. Situation there would be very serious. Something Omar will have to check.
  • We are left with the idea that the need for pure water could be much greater in the interior of the Gambia. How we need the necessary information is not yet clear to us.
  • Prime Stionary LTD: store where they sell copiers and scanners. We would like to install a kind of copy center in our Gammol house, where the schools can take the necessary copies as part of their lessons. Decision of visit: check what is possible in Belgium, and have it delivered with the next container

It is already evening when we arrive at our hotel. We still have an appointment to view the ground next to the hotel. Nice piece of land, nice view of the ocean, but not comparable with the piece of land on the beach of Sanyang. 2nd choice, if we cannot live up to our 1st choice.

 

7 January 2020

Last day

Fulakunku

Visit to our pump in Fulakunku. Pump installation in perfect condition. We are asked for a heavier pump or more solar panels, but here too we must first of all work on cleaning the panels. But a lot of care is taken of the rest. We are very warmly welcomed by the VDC and the village elders to thank us. In addition, about 20 women who are also waiting for us and start singing and dancing for us. So much enthusiasm, we can't help but dance together.

 

Yundum Hospital Center

Yundum Hospital Center: this is the location where we used to place an installation and wanted to draw extensions to a local school, which was refused. At first, we were therefore not prepared to invest further in this. After all, we were asked about extensions to the clinic and the maternity that is currently being built. What we see at the Hospital Center is nice: they have laid out a garden to grow vegetables, and are busy building a new maternity. We address the head of the center, Senior Nurse Adama Jobarteh, a super motivated lady, who explains to us what the needs are and why an extension to the school is not possible: the clinic needs clean water at all times, and they cannot count always on the local water and electricity company NAWEC (National Water & Electricity Company). Sometimes water just doesn't come from the Nawec faucets. The clinic cannot run the risk of having to work without water, which is why they want to continue to use the water pump to the maximum for the center. Amada insists, based on a conviction and motivation. We promise nothing, but it seems worthwhile to provide extensions here too. Against the wall we see a frame hanging from vzw De Gambiavrienden Belgium ...202001 yundum01

A beautiful vegetable garden, thanks to the water

 

Abuko

We visit our Gammol school in Abuko. Enthusiastic children, as always. We discuss the different needs of the school:
- Chairs for the students;
- The outer wall must be clad against rain;
- Tiling of the classes;
- Additional class measurements;
- Concreting behind the classes;
- Tiling the dining room;
- Repairing and tiling toilets;
- Installing a tap at the toilets;
- Repair the door of the teachers' toilet;
- Installing a water reservoir on top of the pump housing;
- Installing windows ...

After signing the guestbook, we leave. Here too we must see what we can do. To get to the level of the new school in Kartong, a lot needs to be done here.

We drive past the 2nd pump installed in Abuko. The different taps are used heavily. However, we notice that 1 of the water reservoirs is no longer connected, which means that the water supply is more limited, which can lead to problems in this large community. Repair seems appropriate here.

 

Brufut

Next stop is Brufut, where we have received a request to install an installation. We walk around the community, where there are several large villas, each with their own installation. In addition, a very large school, all students in uniform. Another school that we visit is perfectly fine. When we leave we see a tap with a container with a lock on it, so that no one can take water. Reason: state on private land. The man who shows us around cannot convince us of the need for a pump installation in Brufut.

 

Appointments with the local team

We end our day with a meeting with Omar and Lamin in our Gammol house. Lamin will also receive a salary from now on. And miraculously, Lamin surprises us with his English. Apparently he speaks English pretty well, but his embarrassment stops him from speaking it. We round off our visit by making clear agreements with Omar & Lamin.

We leave Tuesday evening, after a long taxi ride. Super busy on the job. It takes twice as long as coming in ... at 10.45 pm we leave for Belgium, to arrive by 5 in the morning.

At the beginning of January, Dirk Depoorter and Dirk Fannes go on a mission to The Gambia. Together with the local Gammol team, they want to evaluate the operation in Gambia, visit projects of the past year, prepare new projects, make agreements with local authorities and with local suppliers. Dirk Depoorter made a travelogue.

2 January 2020

Direct flight at 10.55 am, delayed by half an hour. Dirk and I arrive in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, and are picked up by the driver of The White Horse Residence, where we will be staying in the coming days. Around 7 p.m. in the hotel.

7.30 pm: appointment with Omar, our responsible for the NGO Gammol on site. Goal: go over the agreed program for the next 5 days and adjust it according to the agreements made. And, importantly, prepare an appointment with the VDC (Village Development Committee) of Sanyang, in function of the extension of our contract (MoU: memorandum of understanding) for the use of our Gammol house in Sanyang.

3 January 2020

Village Development Committee

9 a.m. appointment with the (almost) full VDC, 11 men: confirmation of both wants to continue working together. Request from VDC to invest in Sanyang. We agree to contribute annually to the development of their territory, without focusing on certain projects. Our approach: supporting where the need is greatest, throughout The Gambia.

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Gardens of Sanyang

Visit the garden of Sanyang from 11.30 am together with a couple of people from the VDC. It is large: 700 m. x 200 m., Divided into plots where the women grow fruit and vegetables. Problem: existing pump does not provide enough water to cover entire area. Some waiting basins are empty. As a result, women and children carry heavy buckets. Ask to help them and install additional pump(s). Later we  learn that this is not necessarily the right solution.

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Visit to new and older installations

We visit the new installation in Fula Kunku. Our team (Omar and Lamin) did a fantastic job! They can rightly be proud of it.

Then check older installations:

  • Pacholling Village: community that takes care of the installation too little. Leaking faucets and water tanks, moldy walls ... make good use of the water to irrigate their gardens. Garden is in bloom.
  • Mamuda, one of our larger (higher) pump installations, installed in May 2011, with extensions. Like many pumps: too little care to keep the solar panels clean, which means insufficient power to spread water across all extensions. Some faucets are therefore dry. Or is there another reason? To be examined by turning off all taps alternately…
  • In Mamuda there is also training for wound care. The nurse on site shows us his material.

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  • Daru Busumbala: installation of 2012, perfectly ok, different extensions placed. Someone has been appointed who is responsible for the installation, and you notice the difference. Beautiful!
  • Labakory, 2013, building completely polished. In addition, there is the old installation, where (impure) water was pumped up by hand, from the less deep water layer. A slightly more modern version than using water from the well with buckets on a pulley.

Swe Gam

In the evening we leave for Serrekunda, the largest city in The Gambia. To get there, also in this city, traffic jams, but not comparable to ours. Busy traffic, bad job, no discipline, smelly cars ... Large, dirty city, lots of dust, catches your breath.

We have an appointment with mr. Ibrahim Cole, owner of the Swe Gam company, to discuss how we can work together. He places pumps from A to Z, with material and all. We want to use his services, in part, so that our Gammol people keep their work. Our impression: serious man, former teacher, knows what he is talking about. Strict for his fellow countrymen, "they have to work harder," he says. He shows us around in his company, professionally. We are going to get involved with this.

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Prepare next day

8 p.m. back at the hotel. Long productive day. Our driver, Samba, drops us off, then Omar and Lamin. Dinner, after which Dirk and I discuss the day and prepare our conversation with Omar for the next day.

4 January 2020

Tujereng

202001 Tujereng019 a.m. departure to Tujereng, where we have an appointment with the local VDC, who has applied for the installation of a water pump, for their population, about 500 people (500 means, between 300 and 700). There are no exact figures. The old well, dug by hand, is dry.

Together with someone from the VDC we visit the large community CISF Garden of Tujereng, located at the end of the village, close to the large course. Everything seems to be on place to do the same here as in the community garden of Sanyang. Pump installation, sufficient solar panels, catchment basins, central building ... but everything is dry: pump is not working, catchment basins are empty, solar panels full of dust, no garden under construction. Explanation: not yet finished ...

After Tujereng visit of a pumping station of Swe Gam, on the border of Sanyang. Clear installation of a different order: higher tower, larger vessel, pump without overflow (automatically switches off if the water vessel is full). Blooming garden around the pump.

 

Also in The Gambia...

On the way to the schools a few cool local advertising panels (coca cola, nescafe) ...

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Schools of Sanyang

Schools visited in Sanyang, together with the chairman of the VDC:

  • Bunkiling: 320 students, 11 teachers. Location not suitable, are building a new school in another place. Nice from far, from close you see that the construction was not always built straight. Difference with professional craftsmen. Volunteers are building here, when there is sufficient money to "continue" to build. Guestbook must! be signed ... ask for support to continue building and pump for pure water ...
  • Darboekunda: 370 students, 13 teachers, building new classes. Ask fence from the school, but especially for their garden, because the animals now eat their vegetables. In addition, funds for a separate kitchen (now in 1 of their classrooms) and repair of 1 of the solar panels that was destroyed. Dirty around the school: plastic and paper. When they are asked why they do not collect all of them and clean up, they fall from the sky !? Good idea ... Have promised nothing, just like in other places, but have said that if we support, we ask responsability for the installations.
    Caring and taking responsability for installations is a problem that we encounter in many places. Where the cleaning of the solar panels is a general problem. Nobody seems to know that dirty solar panels give less energy. With a few exceptions, dirty solar panels are the rule. For each installation that we visited, we had to explain to the local VDCs and managers why they should clean the panels.
  • Sanchaba: the third school we visit is the worst. This school is a gift from a Gambian, who has donated a part of his land so that around 120 children can follow lessons. Four teachers, led by someone who is incredibly motivated. They do not receive state aid and are therefore dependent on the spmall school fees they receive from their parents. To my question how much they earn, the answer is: teachers who teach in an accredited school receive about 5000 Dalasi per month (€ 90). As they depend on the parents, this varies between D 2000 (€ 36) and D 4000 (€ 72) per month. They got a piece of land from the same man, and their dream is to be able to build a school with 4 classes. And a garden to grow vegetables. There is a well on that piece of land, but I would not recommend it to anyone to drink water from that well (just like other old wells). Now there are 2 classes and 2 barracks in waste from corrugated iron. Not safe, torn plates that you can easily hurt yourself with. It is difficult to imagine that lessons are being given here. In addition, they also try to give their students 1 meal a day. We were impressed by the motivation of the teacher who spoke to us and by what we saw. For us a possible next project.
  • Nemisack: is a larger school, where Omar (our Gambian employee) used to go. Four of their classrooms are corrugated iron barracks, without flooring. In addition, 4 other classes, brickwork, floor in tamped soil, but in much better condition than the 4 barracks. The problem is that the 4 barracks cannot be used during the rainy season: it rains in on all sides and the classes become mud classes. The result is that in that period they often have to send the students home or cram the other classes. Here too we speak with the teachers, who make their needs known. When we leave the school we see a self digged well that indicates who donated it: Sharing Wonder Int (UK), well no 100, dug by a contractor Sheriffo Sonko.
  • Sanyang School: finally we visited the state school of Sanyang. This is primary education. Impressive and large, compared to the 4 previous ones. It becomes even clearer to us how essential the private nursery schools are, so that children with a basic knowledge of English can start primary education when they are 7 years old. Otherwise, they simply cannot come along and drop out prematurely. Question from this school: a water pump…

 

Jalambang Village

Next stop is Jalambang Village. One of the larger villages, which has applied for water installations. We are received by a large delegation, women and men. About 100 compounds, the number of residents varies considerably depending on who we ask our question to. In other villages we also usually receive different information. Reality is that they often do not know themselves. In any case: great need for water pump (s). The government has dug a number of wells not far from this village, so that their wells, which draw on the upper water layer, have dried up. Need for multiple pumps, or a heavy pump with extensions. This visit gives us a good feeling: the delegation from the village, who receives us, tells different men and women to explain to us what the needs are. We promise nothing, except that we will contact you again, via Omar.

 

Dimbaya Village

Last stop is the visit to our installation in Dimbaya Village. Water pump installed in May 2013. Pump no longer works and would be blocked. Omar has already tried to pull the pump out, but that was not possible. According to Omar, it would be due to the installation of another pump 400 meters away. Which seems unlikely to us. What is striking: a thick layer of dust on the solar panels. We meet the woman who normally takes care of the pump, and who has also received training in wound care. Her obvious question is to repair the pump. We first look at the other installation, and pass a hand pump, where several women are pumping water. The pump, which is supposed to be the cause of ours not functioning, is a bit further and does not work. The pump was sponsored by the Saoudi Fund for Development. And you can see it: it is a very large installation, many times larger than what we normally install, and with a battery of solar panels (all full of dust). The position where the water tank must be placed has been broken off, so that the installation is not (yet) functioning. This therefore cannot be the cause of our pump not functioning. We will try to find out the cause through  Ibrahim Cole from Swe Gam.

The woman who spoke to us explains that the pump would only provide water for the other side of the village, so that our pump was definitely needed. This is remarkable, because we note that an extension has been placed from the Saudi pump to 50 m from our pump. What must be checked is whether our pump is still useful here, once the Saudi pump is working. And, if not, whether we cannot remove the pump and solar panels and recover the material.

We drive to our hotel, where we have another meeting with Omar (not the last).

The water installation in Fula Kunku is ready. This is the first time that our Gambian employees did the installation entirely themselves. Their self-reliance gives us the opportunity to increase the number off placements next year. Well done!

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The drilling work on the new Fulakunku water well has started.

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Drilling to a depth of 35 m

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Thomas More highschool offers future nursery and primary education teachers the opportunity to do an internship abroad. Interested students and their parents inform themselves at the different organizations. There are internships all over the world. They are enthusiastically explained by three students who did an internship at Gammol in the spring in Sanyang - Gambia.

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The works at the nursery school in Kartong are progressing. The roof has been placed and the walls plastered. We can start with the interior and paint the exterior walls. The school will be ready by the start of next school year.

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The water wells of Bamindorr and Faalah will be expanded with a water supply network. In this way, compounds located further afield also receive water.

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The Gammol board discusses current and future Gammol projects with the village council (village development committee) of Sanyang. These projects must meet the real needs of the community and reflect the vision of Gammol.

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Work on the nursery school In Kartong continues. You see the classrooms appearing. A local contractor does the work together with Gambian employees of Gammol.

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Together with Halaai Xale we wil build a nursery school In Kartong for children aged 4 to 7 years.
The preparatory work has started. Concrete blocks are made by hand on site.

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The school will have 4 classrooms and an office for the headmaster and an office for the teachers. The sanitary block for the children is in a separate building.

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Five months after the construction of the well. A fresh vegetable garden appears where until recently there was only a dry sandy place. Large cucumbers are hanging on the trees and peppers have just been planned. The water brings new possibilities.

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Students from the Thomas More high school organize a spaghetti day. The students leave within a few weeks for a three-month internship in Gambia. They stay in the Gammol house and teach in the local schools.

They use the revenues of this evening for an educational project in The Gambia. Well done!

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