founder and chief executive officer of Smile African Orphans over the weekend
presided over the laying of a foundation stone for the construction of a tap in
the provincial town Bansang in Central River Region.
Ms Njemeh Bah, a U.S-based Gambian journalist and social worker, said providing access to clean drinking water to the community is part of her organisation’s efforts to improving the livelihoods of needy orphans and underprivileged children.
“Young girls here travel long distances to provide water for their households,” she said. “We all know that these are done under conditions that compromise their safety, education and wellbeing. I know it because I was here and I lived it.”
In an emotional narration of her personal story, Ms Bah told the young girls: “I struggled. I dropped out of school twice because I couldn’t afford my education bills. I was young but I had to work, do laundry for others, cook for them and go to school late sometimes. But I managed to complete my school. I was determined.
“Even when I went to the U.S, it wasn’t easy. I was homeless for some time, I went hungry many times. I washed dishes at restaurants to get paid. I could have done so many immoral things but was determined not to go astray. Through hard work, now I work for the U.S government as a social worker.
“None of you should allow the challenges you face here to get the best of you. You can achieve your dream. I know what I have gone through. If I can change the life of one person, I believe all of you can do the same or more.”
Speaking earlier was the chairman of the Janjanbureh Area Council, Mr. Janko Sanneh, who spoke at length on the importance of the empowerment of rural girls.
Also speaking, the Alkalo of Bansang, Alhagie Saibeh Darboe, hailed the move by SAO to make clean drinking water accessible to his people. He highlighted the difficulties his people, particularly women face in providing water to households.
Aja Kora, a student of Bansang upper Basic School, said the tap will benefit young girls the most. She added: “I want stakeholders, whether government or non-government bodies, to draw their attention to the fact that girls in the rural areas are faced with numerous challenges. I call on them to the transportation of students. We still trek long distances to attend lessons.”
Smile African Orphans is a charity registered both in The Gambia and the Washington State of the United State of America. Established in 2018, SAO aims to shine light upon the plight of the underprivileged orphans and children on the continent and to provide them with much needed support for the enjoyment of their fundamental human rights, including education, shelter and feeding.
SAO is founded by Ms. Njemeh Bah, a US-based Gambian journalist and social worker whose life’s experience growing up in The Gambia and professional experience as a journalist and social worker, exposed her to degrading living conditions and exploitation of orphans and vulnerable children.