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What do we know about "Project Aid The Gambia" and "Peace Village International"

Jul 9, 2013, 12:35 PM

Two German Charity missions to help specifically ill and disable Gambian children

The first ever World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability.

People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives.

This report provides the best available evidence about what works to overcome barriers to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, and support services, and to create the environments which will enable the specifically ill children with disabilities to start a new healthy life.

Health Matters this features an interview we had with Mr Mathias Ketteler, founder and chairman of ‘Project Aid The Gambia’, an NGO existing for over 20 years in The Gambia about his charity’s mission and its assistance to Gambian children with severe illnesses and disability whose diagnose and treatment can only be performed overseas particularly in Germany.

Health Matters: What is ‘Peace Village International’ and your charity’s mission in The Gambia?

Mr Ketteler: PEACE VILLAGE was established on July 6th, 1967, as a citizens’ initiative to help children in areas of war and crisis. Free medical treatment in European hospitals and international aid projects helps to reduce the agony of the most innocent victims.

Several times each year, PEACE VILLAGE INTERNATIONAL carries out large humanitarian aid missions and rescue flights. Wounded and sick children are brought to Germany, and children who have already been treated, are returned to their families. Medical supplies and warm winter clothes are carried to our partner organizations all over the world. PEACE VILLAGE finances most of the assistance through donations and memberships dues.

PEACE VILLAGE International has been sending teams into war-torn countries and returning to Germany with injured children. There, free of charge, the children get the medical care they need at hospitals and clinics across the country, or sometimes in Austria or the Netherlands. PEACE VILLAGE is where they go to recuperate, and, especially for the amputees, to relearn basic living skills. The children’s village lies in north-western Germany, near Düsseldorf, and about 30 miles from the Netherlands border.

Health Matters: What is the collaboration between Project Aid The Gambia and Peace Village International?

Project Aid the Gambia in partnership with a German based NGO Friedensdorf (Peace Village) has identified The Gambia as one of the locations that they will be willing to add to their list of few countries that receive the medical Aid provided by Peace Village.

Without further ado, we would like to extend this life saving opportunity to some of the cases that could apply to children that have been highlighted in the local newspapers here in The Gambia.We are hoping that your able Ministry will continue to give us your full support on facilitating any medical approval documents and authorities that need to involved in the processing of medical documents and travel documents and protocols for any child that would fit the criteria for treatment in Germany.

It may be necessary that some medical documents / Doctor’s reports or x -ray facility from the RVTH may be required from time to time to ensure the right paperwork for a child, in this regard we would also be most grateful if we can receive the support of your department to help us obtain or be in contact with the required area or person at the RVTH should the need arise.

Below is the guideline of the criteria we have received from a representative of Peace Village

In Friedensdorf (Peace Village) program we can admit children for medical treatment under the following conditions

- Social indication: parents are financially not in the position to arrange overseas treatment

- Necessity: the child suffers an illness or injury that is life-threatening or means a serious limitation of function; treatment is not available/affordable in Gambia/Senegal as it is now taking a child from its family and natural surroundings is always the very last resort!!!

- Parents/guardians must guarantee they will accept the child back into the family without any discussion and make no effort for the child to remain in Germany

- Treatment is possible in Europe and has a good perspective for success

Experience has shown that the following causes are likely to be accepted if the needed operation is not available at home:

- Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone or bone marrow)

- Conditions after burns, for example with fire, gas or any explosion. Usually with scar contracture that limits function of hands/leg or closing of eyes/nose/mouth

- congenital disorder/malformation such as analatresia (malformation of rectum), urogenital malformation (e.g. hypospadias or bladder extrophy) but also of orthopedic kind such as club foot)

- Cleft palates or alkalosis [stiffness] of jaw

Unfortunately not admitted are:

- any neurological or cardiology problems or any form of cancer, as treatment can not be arranged for free in Germany and the success rate is not always high Children that suffer a problem due to cerebral palsy or Spina bifida cannot be accepted. The problem might look like an orthopaedic one at first, but usually no easy improvement can be achieved by simple surgery

Further framework:

- Children must be 11 years or younger. They must not be breast feeding by the time of admission;

- Parents must agree that child travels without parents/guardian and the guardianship will be transferred to Friedensdorf during the entire time in Germany. Guardianship automatically ends upon the child’s return to the home country

- Parents must guarantee that the family will not undertake any initiative for the child to stay in Germany or have any private contacts, for example to family/friends living in Europe. Since every child in the program will be treated equally, unfortunately no such contacts can be allowed

- Peace village is never “obliged” to admit a child. Even if all formal requirements are met, last decision is on us who is selected

- The Gambia guarantees to admit every child back home in the country. Under no circumstances any child remains in Germany

Upon return, every child is given a small financial aid for reintegration and a bag withclothing and personal belongings.

While in Germany, the child will either be admitted in hospital or live with the other children in peace village. The children will not stay in any private family. In peacevillage live permanently around 240 children, going and coming from hospitals all over Germany. Here they stay together with all other small patients, attend rehabilitation programs such as physiotherapy, water gyms etc. We pay attention that the cultural values of all children are respected (e.g. there is no pork at our meals etc)

Children are luckily very fast to pick up a new language if needed. After few weeks many children can speak basic German. If needed to explain treatment etc we usually manage to find interpreters. If several children come from the same country, they are often able to translate for one another due to different durations of stay. Funnily enough after some month children do not only learn to speak Germany but also other languages spoken at Peacevillage. (We have quite some Afghan kids who can speak Portuguese, because their new friend is from Angola and vice versa!)

Before we decide to admit a child, it is best to have as much medical material available as possible. Best is always a recent x-ray, ideally along with a medical report.

We at Project Aid The Gambia and our Friends Of The Project have assured Peace village our fullest cooperation in this matter and we also look forward to the usual and much appreciated co-operation from the Ministry of Health and Gambia Government.


Since 1967, PEACE VILLAGE has been helping innocent children from war torn countries and crisis areas worldwide. The three main areas of our work are:

- Medical help for sick and wounded children, who cannot, for various reasons, be helped in their native countries, but who can be treated in Europe.

- Improvement of local medical facilities in war and crisis areas.

- Educational work on awareness of and involvement in social issues and conflict resolution.

PEACE VILLAGE INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit charity solely financed by donations and membership fees. Friends and coordination, People from all over Germany support the work of PEACE VILLAGE INTERNATIONAL. Our friends help in many ways, visiting “our” children in hospitals, promoting PEACE VILLAGE at information fairs, and taking on a host of different activities for the benefit of our institution. Our friends are important to us, particularly when the children are in hospitals, far from our main office. And, of course, friends are welcome as extra helping hands at the Village.

Contact information:

International NGO A 57
Management: Bakery Kinteh and Famara Fatty
P.O. Box 4540 Bakau The Gambia / West Africa
Phone: + 220 4461187 fax: + 220 4461162, mobile: + 220 6937432 OR + 220 9937432
email: projectaid@work.gm