Dirk Depoorter

Sunday 8 May

Sunday is all about the water projects realized over the past 2 years.

Gidda Sukuta

20220508 reis02First stop is our new water project in Giboro Gidda Sukuta.

Kuloro Ba Duma

The second project is in Kuloro Village, Kuloro Ba Duma, where we also get a tour of the village, and see the different extensions that have been built to get the water as far as possible into the vast village. And yet we still come across the classic wells (shallow, with impure water, with a pulley and buckets). What we hear is that the classic (old) wells are still used to water the gardens, and that our installations are used for everything where hygiene is required, such as preparing food. Although hygiene in The Gambia is given a different interpretation than what we give it.

Mandinaba Darussalam

Next project is in Mandinaba Daru Salam. Here we are asked to build a new school from scratch. Apparently an area where the population is growing strongly, but it seems premature to us to invest in a school here, without anything concrete: where do they get the teachers, how many students would come to school here, let state that there would be curricula… In terms of location, this seems suitable, but we lack too much information.

Gunjur Freetown

From Mandinaba Village we continue to our project in Gunjur Freetown, nice installation. Striking, but something we already notice too often: solar panels full of dust. And this while the panels are on the ground (so easily accessible), but that little or no attention is paid to it, as a result of which the efficiency of the pump decreases. And the first question we get is for an additional pump. We make it clear to Omar that he needs to be more careful about this. This is an essential condition before we even think about installing an extension or additional installation. As long as the discipline is not there to make optimal use of the existing installation, we do not think it makes sense to make that additional investment.

Gunjur Madena Salam

When we arrive in Gunjur Village, for our Gunjur Madena Salam project, we see that things can be done differently. In addition to many thanks, a sturdy - and highly motivated - lady takes the floor to explain to us how our installation contributes to the quality of life of the women in the village. This testimony really speaks to us, gives us a warm feeling, that together we realize something that really makes a difference, very often for the women who take on the heavy work in The Gambia. Cheers!

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Nursery school Kartong

Normally we would end the day at the Astry Nursery School in Kartong, the second school we have built. Another Belgian NGO takes care of the follow-up and supervision of the teachers. We pass the school, which is deserted on Sunday, and notice that it still looks very neat. Which once again emphasizes the importance of follow-up.

Dirk Depoorter

Monday May 9, 2022           


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Our first stop is the Jalambang Central Community Water Project. In, where else could it be, Jalambang Village. A bit of an atypical project, in the sense that this installation is located in a very busy inhabited village, where the national water company NAWEC is also present. And yet Omar has responded to the village's request because of the complete uncertainty of when water will come out of the NAWEC's pipes. What makes matters worse is that another village down the road is also connected to the national grid. If they take water, there is little left for Jalambang, making the water supply even more uncertain. We are given a tour of the village, where we see how creative some families are not to lose water: from one of the water basins to which an extension has been laid, the excess water is diverted to a neighboring vegetable garden. What strikes us time and again, whether it's the main tap or the extension taps, is the women (often in beautiful costumes) who keep carrying buckets of water.

Gambia Tourism Board

We leave from Jalambang in the direction of Farato along a very busy road, full of activity, so typical of The Gambia. The rest of the day is devoted to our lodge project. We want to build a small-scale lodge on the coast from which the proceeds will be used for the Gammol projects.

Ida Jeng NjieFirst visit is with Ida Jeng Njie, Regional Director West Coast Region of the Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) in Farato. The GTB is the government agency that provides the necessary permits to build something on the coast. The first 500m from the ocean is managed by the state. Ida lived in Great Britain for a long time and received her education there. A pleasant, sensible lady, who has moved back to The Gambia with the mission to make a difference for her compatriots. She is therefore very pleased with our plans and sets us on the road to plodding through a long administrative mill.

From Ida in Farato we leave for Senegambia, where we have an appointment with the Development & Loan Officer (DLO) at the GTB Head Quarter in Senegambia. Totally different reception than at Ida. Apparently the man is very busy: first he makes us wait, and when we are finally “allowed” in his office, he is constantly busy with all sorts of things, without paying too much attention to us. We get the impression that this is wasted time, and that we are being sent away with a clod in the reeds. Or no, we are sent to a Project Manager, Saltech Conglomerate, who develops projects, writes business plans and would be the right person to clear all the administrative hurdles. Our conversation with the person in question was not that good, in the sense that we got the feeling that he was getting his assignments from the DLO. Disappointing, but we don't give up.

Smile For Life

20220509 reis03During one of our visits to our installations, we were accompanied by another Omar, Omar Sanyang, responsible for development in the Sanyang region (the same name coincidentally). Turns out Omar is also Executive Director of Smile For Life The Gambia. This is an organization that is responsible for the “Marine Biodiversity Conservation”. The ecological balance on the coast and in particular the sea turtles. Omar had helped us make arrangements with Ida Jeng and the DLO, and was just as disappointed as we were with the latter's visit. However, it turns out that his organization Smile For Life owns a very large piece of land on the coast of Sanyang. A nature preserve, breeding ground for turtles and birds, hectares in size. He would like to develop something there himself, so that he has income to maintain this beautiful piece of nature. He invites us to come and see it. 

So back to Sanyang, where we first pass the Sanyang Fish Market on the beach of Sanyang. We also have a water project here and built a fish market, and we notice that its maintenance leaves something to be desired. We agree with Omar (Saidy) that we only want to invest in the optimization of the project here, only if there are guarantees that the installation will be properly maintained. Asking for a financial contribution from the users could be a lever. 

From the fish market we go to the Eco Lodge Sanyang Beach, How Ba Road, a lodge built by a Spanish NGO, right next to the domain where we had our first plans. It was interesting to see how they handled it there. Together with a local architect we view and discuss the possibilities of the location, recommended to us by the VDC of Sanyang, over a good glass of beer. At least beer for Hedwig, Dirk and myself. Our Gambian friends don't drink alcohol, and stick to lemonade.

From there we leave for the nature reserve, a few kilometers further on From there we leave for the nature reserve, a few kilometers further on Sanyang Beach. What we get to see is quite spectacular. Hard to describe. Starting from the ocean, the beach, dense vegetation, a mangrove, ... simply beautiful. We leave here with a feeling that this would meet our needs much better. But also with the idea that there are many more questions than answers to really realize this project. Our day is over. After dinner in the evening, we discuss and dream a bit further about the opportunities that the location and country in question does offer. But also the obstacles that you have to overcome if you want to undertake here.. What we get to see is quite spectacular. Hard to describe. Starting from the ocean, the beach, dense vegetation, a mangrove, ... simply beautiful. We leave here with a feeling that this would meet our needs much better. But also with the idea that there are many more questions than answers to really realize this project. Our day is over. After dinner in the evening, we discuss and dream a bit further about the opportunities that the location and country in question does offer. But also the obstacles that you have to overcome if you want to undertake here.   

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Tuesday 10 May 2022

Our last day is already approaching! Back a day to visit our new projects.


We start with the Mandinary Project. Strange: next to our water tower they have built a concrete pier to install a second water barrel. Enterprising in any case: instead of asking Gammol for extra water, they took the initiative themselves to increase the capacity. Although we questioned the efficiency. What we noticed during our installation is that the tower on which the water barrel stands is not straight. As a result, the load of the water vessel is not evenly distributed over the 4 legs. Here they "solved" it by not placing the barrel in the center, but moving it to one side. We point out to Omar that he should pay more attention to this, as this could be the weak point of the installation in the longer term.


20220510 reis01In the meantime we know the customs. After the various ceremonies and interventions of the local dignitaries, taking the pictures, handing over a certificate of thanks, we leave for Makumbaya Village, for our next project. And as always, we are received with the necessary “respect” and we experience the gratitude of the local population. In Makumbaya Village there is a very motivated man who has taken it upon himself to maintain the installation almost daily. It is therefore visible! In our speech we do not fail to say this and congratulate the person in question!

Karewan Nursery school

Our next visit is the local Arabic Nursery School in Karewan, where we have been asked to build a new school. When we get there, we see why the demand is there. A dilapidated school, partly built from waste corrugated iron, without any school materials. And yet we decide to answer this question negatively. After all, the problem is that all classes are taught in Arabic, and not in English. While a basic requirement to continue studying is just the knowledge of the English language. We make it very clear that it is not a matter of faith, but that our aim is to give the preschoolers maximum opportunities to go to primary education later on. We are sorry, but if we want to achieve the maximum with the support of our sponsors, we have to adhere to some minimum standards.

Gammol Nursery School Abuko 

20220510 reis03From there we leave for our school in Abuko. Also the first school that Gammol has built and where we have made a number of extra investments in recent years to optimize the school. It is a very happy reunion with the director of the school, who is very proud of what Omar and Lamin have achieved. We are welcomed by the Parents' Council, which has come together especially to thank us. And here too, as in almost every place we have visited in recent days, there is a demand for additional support. But they also show a lot of understanding that other villages also need a decent school and clean water (We have also installed a water installation in this school).

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It is now 5 pm, our flight is at 9:30 pm, and taking into account the traffic we end our “work” day here. We drop the plan to visit 2 more “older” projects. First we have dinner with Omar and Lamin at Lamin Lodge, a pleasant lodge in the middle of a mangrove, where the monkeys will eat your plate if you are not careful (you get a stick to scare them away, because they can be quite aggressive to be). Ideal time to go over our past days with Omar and Lamin and to make a number of appointments for the sequel.

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We leave for Banjul International Airport after dinner, 8 km further (about half an hour drive 😉), and say goodbye to our two friends. Quite emotional. These have been intense days, where we have seen how seriously both Omar and the quiet Lamin take their responsibility, and how they have grown in this over the years: Omar, who used to be so shy and now spoke up on every visit, and there had no trouble knocking pickets to the many Alkalos we met, if necessary. And Lamin, silent force, who has seen it all and is more technically skilled.

A successful trip for us, which has confirmed that what we do there, with the donations of our sponsors, is really well spent! And that we are not going to wait two years to return. It would be nice to get together with a few sponsors, so that they can see with their own eyes what Gammol achieves with their donations.

Will no doubt be continued with a lot of energy!

Last year we started building a nursery school in Sanchaba. We installed 4 classrooms and a room for teachers and management. Now we are expanding the school. Two classrooms, a kitchen with storage space and toilets will be added.

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Not far from Sohm, in Faraba Sutu, we will place our sixth well of 2022. The last one before the rainy season starts. This well provides 2800 people with clean water.

By choosing villages that are close to each other and installing the wells immediately after each other, we can better coordinate the works. In addition, the councilor, competent for the region can more easily monitor the proper use of the installation.

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Sohm is located about 30 km inland in the south of the Gambia against the Senegalese border. Yet soon more than an hour's drive from our offices in Sanyang.

This well provides 3,000 people with clean water. Here too we provide the standard 1000 m of pipeline and 10 taps. If the village maintains this installation good, it can be expanded.

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Sanyang Garden is a 10-acre fenced area where residents of Sanyang can grow vegetables. Water is pumped into large water basins after which it is used to irrigate the plots.

Many water basins are leaking, causing the pumped water to be lost, and taps and pipes are also defective. We seal the basins with bitumen and repair the pipes and taps.

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In the Gammol house, our headquarters in Sanyang and a place to stay for students and nurses, the wooden doors need to be replaced. Moisture during the rainy season and termites damage the doors. We replace 9 wooden doors with metal doors and give them a Gambian color.

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The Heilig Graf primary school in Vosselaar supports Gammol. From March 7 to April 1, every class of primary school walks its tour. The first degree 5 km, the second degree 7 km and the third degree 10 km. The students are sponsored and Gammol uses the proceeds to build schools and promote education in The Gambia.

4 813,- euro has been collected. 



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Due to corona and supply problems, we were able to install fewer water wells in previous years. This year we are making up for the damage.
We installed our fourth well of 2022 in Mandinaba Darussalam. This well provides 2500 inhabitants with clean, drinkable water.

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About three kilometers from the Gambia river, Ba Duma is a district of Kuloro. The water supply supplies clean water to more than 2000 people.

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Freetown is a northern neighborhood of Gunjur. The Gunjur Freetown water tower provides 2,000 people with clean drinking water.

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Over the past two years, we've had to slow down a bit. Corona and the poor availability of materials slowed down the installation of new water supplies. In 2022 we want to get back on track. The year is not even 14 days away and our first new well is ready.

Madina Salam Tabokoto, a village in the south of The Gambia between Gunjur and Kartung, has about 1700 inhabitants and now has its own water supply. A tower with water barrel and 7 taps in the village.

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The new classrooms of the school in Sanchaba are ready. Painted rooms, installed benches, just dust off and clean up.
The school can start.

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Our school in Abuko recently got new windows and tiles. Now the entire school is being repainted.

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