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Thomas Nationwide Transport officials brief journalists

Dec 22, 2011, 2:40 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The visiting Thomas Nationwide Transport (TNT) officials from Benelux Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg last Friday briefed journalists about their one-week mission to the country.

The TNT has been very supportive of the school-feeding programme in The Gambia both financially and technically through World Food Programme (WFP).

According to Victoria Ginja, UN WFP Country Director in The Gambia, the TNT has been involved in the support of providing essential learning packages for schools by constructing and rehabilitating school facilities across The Gambia.

“From 2003 to date the TNT efforts have been instrumental in the construction/rehabilitation of 39 kitchens with store and latrines in 30 schools across the country and presently 3 kitchens with a store are being constructed in Upper River Region and in 2009 the TNT raised $617,690 for the school-feeding programme in The Gambia,” Ms Ginja said.

She said TNT Benelux Express decided to join TNT Italy and Germany Express to support WFP in The Gambia in September 2010.

She noted that the TNT official mission to The Gambia was for them to familiarize themselves with the school-feeding programme to be active ambassadors in raising awareness and advocating for support among employees and their clients for the school-feeding programme in The Gambia.

After their one-week visit to the TNT school-feeding programme school sites in the country, the TNT officials told journalists that since 2003 TNT Express has donated US$2.5 million towards WFP’s school meals programme in The Gambia providing much needed food to approximately 159,000 children.

“The continuous support from TNT Express towards the school-feeding programme is invaluable both technically and financially, especially as the Government will have, from 2012, an increased role in the management of this education-strengthening programme,” said the country WFP boss.

The school meals programme acts as a countrywide safely net mitigating the effects of the food, fuel and financial crises on vulnerable Gambian families, as well as encourages children, especially girls, to attend school and complete their education. 

“In addition to visiting school canteens in the North Bank Region (NBR) and Greater Banjul Area (GBA), the delegation learnt about WFP Gambia’s food supply chain and held meetings with regional education officers and aid officials,” she highlighted.

It was important for TNT officials to see for themselves firsthand the operations of WFP in The Gambia to advocate passionately for the school meals programme to colleagues and clients in Benelux countries, said the delegation’s leader Marcel Bax, Director of ICS and services at TNT Benelux Express.

He said the support to TNT Express has also enabled WFP Gambia to promote activities tied to school meals including establishing school gardens and improving school infrastructure.

“We have built 33 kitchens with improved stoves and stores, 15 toilets, 3 wells fitted with hand pumps and 3 classroom blocks,” he said.  Over the past years, director Bax said 35 TNT Express volunteers from countries including France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium have come to The Gambia to assist with the school meals programme, adding that the active collaboration of TNT Express with WFP is a successful example of the private sector partnerships, which WFP Gambia hopes to further build and strengthen in the future.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries and now WFP provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org.