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Hands for others ready for others

Apr 22, 2010, 12:08 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanji

Hand for others, a Community Based Organisation based in the UK and Gambia have seen reason to help to educate the less fortunate in The Gambia with a particular attention to the rural people in the Niumi area. They have demonstrated their belief in educating the less fortunate. Sharon Doyle and her enthusiastic mum, Sadie Doyle and Elayne Blackburn all from England have vowed to see the less fortunate become somebody through their little efforts. Society and Development digs into the how they help and whom they help and their challenges. Sharon Doyle explains in this interview.

S&D: What is your CBO, Hands for Others for?

Sharon: It is all about educating children and helping families to help their children. On a smaller scale we have helped the Essau Clinic but our focus is on educating children.

S&D: How did you get to choose Niumi for your assistance?

Sharon: When we first came to Banjul, we contacted Fr. Edu Gomez at the Cathedral and he directed us to Barra. Fr. Benedict Mba answered our questions thus we started to sponsor children.

S&D: How many students did you start with?

Sharon: We started with two kids, Lucy Jatta and Elizabeth.

S&D: How many children have you on your list so far that you sponsor?

Sharon: We are sponsoring twenty-two children between Barra and Njongon and there are three others at the Fajikunda Skill Centre. There are five in the Gambia College as well, one boy and four girls. Two of them have been invited to study further in the college. We have done and we do a lot for the hospital. But this may stop. We support them in schools and provide a meal for them. Fr. Benedict Mba MSP and Sr. Christiana Fefegula decide who is the most needy. It doesn't stop at that we continue supporting, it is a commitment.

S&D: How do you operate?

Sharon: We rely on Fr. Benedict Mba MSP. We communicate through email. Sr. Christiana Fefegula is also helping, she is good with children but Fr. handles the finances. We owe it to my mum, Sadie Doyle.

S&D: Do you owe thanks to any other company or persons?

Sharon: Yes, we owe it to Thomas Cook who brings in stuff we bring for kids. They are really helpful and are doing well. We continue to thank them for their good work to make our assistance vital in society.

S&D: Has it been easy for you at all?

Sharon: Remember all we do is self-funding. It costs us £2, 500 to send by containers. We are held back to helping students. We have computers, chairs. School materials, football kits, musical instruments and many others. Our constraints in bringing these things hold us back or else we would have reached out to a lot more. Finance is the problem. Shipping price goes up daily. We are forced to send things through Ed-Aid. They bring them on our behalf because they've been here for twenty years but when the things come its difficult to share them. We have a lot of things but we can't bring half of them. If someone could volunteer to bring the things in their container it would be great!

S&D: Would you love to expand your assistance?

Sharon: We can't expand now due to finance. The world recession and unemployment and the Haiti disaster make it difficult to get money to help fully in The Gambia for now. My mum's family in Ireland and my friends in UK have been helping. But more is needed to help the needy to be educated.

S&D: Would you like to make a request to the Government of The Gambia in line with your desire for the poor?

Sharon: Yes please! We would ask President Jammeh to kindly help us get a container to bring things for our needy boys and girls. If that is done then it would be great for our heart desires.

We were in touch with the Fire Service in Banjul, they put us in touch with a guy in England called David but he is also handicapped by funds as well. A lot are donating equipment but we can?t bring them over. Only small materials can reach here each time we come and that is not much to satisfy our heart desire.

S&D: Are there any others helping you to help others here?

Sharon: Yes. We have Helena and Raymond Smith who are sponsoring Donegal Celtic at Banjul. They also donated football and kits. Bruce mounts search for donors only to help Gambia. We have given junior kits to Barra's Saint Matthew's school. We have something for St. Michael's Basic Cycle at Njongon but they could not get it due to problems as stated.

S&D: What do you need to continue your heart desire?

Sharon: To continue fighting the good cause, we need help and money.

Hands for Others recently donated a large consignment of medical equipment and medicine to Essau Health Centre in Nuimi.

In receiving the donated items from Elayne Blackburn, Ngally A. Sambou, the Regional Director of Health Services NBD, thanked the Hands for Others organisation for the gesture, noting that it's timely.

"We shall let these things reach the recipients. We are happy," he said.

For her part, Elayne Blackburn revealed that they are expecting a shipment coming with things to help the people.

"I got promise from my local hospital to get baby cots and we are arranging for shipment. Bringing things out of UK is easier but it is not easy out here. We find it difficult here bringing them. We have a lot of things to bring but the storage facility is not there. We are seeking help in that line," she said.

Present at the presentation were Baboucar Choi, Regional Public Health Officer, Amadou W. Jallow, Regional Vector Control Officer and Mamo Jatta, Regional Administrator. All of them thanked Elayne Blackburn.