Dec 17, 2008, 5:00 AM
first batch of children with congenital heart defects have returned home after
successful treatment at the Save a Child Hospital in Israel.
Their treatment was sponsored by the First Lady of The Gambia, Zineb Jammeh, through her Operation Save The Children Foundation (OSCF).
Receiving them on arrival at Banjul International Airport on Friday evening, Hon. Fatou Lamin Faye, Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, welcomed the children who have been successfully treated and have fully recovered.
She announced that the First Lady, among other things, committed D2.4 million to provide a sponsorship package for saving Gambian children with congenital heart defects, so they can undertake treatment at the Save a Child’s Heart Hospital in Israel.
Minister Faye congratulated the parents of those children for the joy of seeing their children regain their health, and be reunited with their family.
She thanked the Almighty for making all things possible, and the executive director and team of Save a Child’s Heart Hospital from Israel for their contribution to making their dream come true.
Also speaking at the welcome ceremony was Simon Fisher, executive director of Save a Child’s Heart Hospital in Israel, who said this was the beginning of the partnership between Save a Child’s Heart and Operation Save the Children Foundation.
“I believe together we can do a good job for the children of The Gambia suffering from heart disease, by giving them good medical treatment.
“I hope to see more children with heart defects brought to Israel to save the lives of the children in The Gambia,” he added, disclosing that a joint effort was made both locally and internationally to get the children treated.
Mr Fisher said together they could do much more to help many children in the future and save their lives, to give their families a better future, as well as to give more hope to the country.
He thanked the parents and children for being very brave and courageous to travel far and wide with their families, and to come home with a message of hope.
Ruby Herwokwicz, country manager of Brussels Airlines in Israel, said he was glad to accompany the children back to their country after being successfully treated, adding that he hopes to see more children treated from Israel.
“I am very proud for the successful treatment of the first batch of children,” he said, and thanked the first lady for making children’s health and well-being her number one priority.
Haddijatou Langley, a 12-year-old beneficiary, thanked the first lady for putting smiles on their face, including their parents and for making them regain their health.
“I pray for her long life and all the team of OSCF and EFSTH for your endless support,” she said.
Njundu Drammeh, coordinator of Child Protection Alliance (CPA), also thanked the first lady and encouraged her to continue to demonstrate her love and support for children.
“We hope that the children who just returned home would speedily recover so that they are able to enjoy their childhood,” he said.
Investing in children would actually help in preparing a better Gambia for them, he added.
Mama Naffie Sonko, parent to the one-year five-month-old beneficiary, thanked the President and the first lady for giving her child and the others hope to live.
The director of Social Welfare, Ajaratou Fanta Bai Secka, also hailed the first lady and thanked the doctors who did a great job in treating the children.
She urged family members to take proper care of the children, and ensure they continue to take their medication as required.