VideoGriot – Educational Videos for The Gambian People

VIDEO GRIOT LOGO SUN cropVideoGriot was started by Hannah Michelle Grossman, a former Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia.

Hannah is working to provide high quality videos about such skills as agriculture techniques, small business ideas, and health information for villagers in The Gambia.  The videos will be short (8-15 min), narratives from skilled practitioners showing how to do the skill being taught. They will be created in English and over-dubbed in the local languages (first Mandinka but also likely Fula). Once a set of videos has been created, they will be distributed to villages using microSD technology.  Here’s some information from Hannah:

In the Gambia, I was an agroforestry volunteer. I worked closely with farmers and helped bring them access to new skills to improve their quality of life. Since my return from the Gambia, I have kept close ties with my community. I see rural farmers struggling to make make due with lower crop yields and worse economic conditions. I want to help improve their quality of life. I know that one way to do this is to give them access to learning new skills in agriculture and other economic sectors. I feel that video is a good media for this sort of education as it makes the information available to low literacy groups in ways that can work with farmers’ schedules.

Most Gambian phones do not come with internal memory. Instead, people go to the market and buy microSD cards. By placing the videos on microSD cards, they can easily be transported and played in many different locations. To make the videos more accessible to a greater number of people, they also plan distribution of Raspberry Pi microSD video players which will connect to CRT televisions. This way villagers will be able to watch the videos together around the CRT televisions already available in many villages.

More from Hannah:

When I returned from the Peace Corps in 2002, I became an educator. I was a public school teacher for 6 years and then returned back to school to work on my PhD in Education. I am currently in my 5th year at UCSB. I am interested in helping experts share their areas of expertise with other people and in how cultural perspectives shape learning. In addition to the VideoGriot project, I am conducting my dissertation research while there. This research will look at the thinking processes used in learning from video and trying to optimize video creation for the audience, in this case rural Gambians.

GambiaHELP feels this is a very worthwhile project and will help many villagers in The Gambia.  While VideoGriot works to get their own 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, GambiaHELP has agreed to be their Fiscal Sponsor.  The budget for the VideoGriot project is $20,000.  Please help her with this important project.

Donate to VideoGriot thru GambiaHELP:


Volunteer Opportunity!

GAMBIAHELP is seeking volunteers to help host a festive celebration of West African music, dance, food and culture at Town Hall Seattle on Friday,  November 21 at 6pm.

“West Africa LIVE 2014” will feature internationally renowned performers on the Main Stage, West African dinner and desserts, a marketplace of handicrafts from Gambian women and girls, and a children’s area for stuffing backpacks with school supplies and writing letters to Gambian penpals. GambiaHELP is a Seattle-based nonprofit that seeds health, education and small-business projects in The Gambia. (see

Assistance is needed in the following areas. Please indicate top 3 choices if you’d like to participate:

Basic Set-Up: Set up tables, directional signs and marketplace items. ( 8-10 needed)

Decorating: Help create “African Village” feel with paintings, fabrics, photos, etc (10 needed)

Ticket Takers: Accept pre-purchased tickets at entry and facilitate express check-in (4 needed)

Ticket Sales: Sell tickets at entry. Requires training with credit card reader. (6 needed)

Ushers: Direct guests to activities, food, restrooms, make sure no food goes into auditorium. (8 needed)

Food Servers: Dish out desserts. Must have food handler’s permit.(5 needed)

With prior approval, GambiaHELP will reimburse $10 fee for brief-and-easy on-line licensing course.

Bussers: Help keep dining area clean and ready for new guests. (4 needed)

Bar Tenders: Serve wine and beer. Must have MAST Server’s Permit. (3 needed)

With prior approval, GambiaHELP will reimburse $20 for student to obtain licensing.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Servers: Serve ginger and hibiscus drinks. (4 needed)

Bar Cashiers: Accept cash and credit card payments at bar. (2 needed)
Marketplace Cashiers & Assistants: Assist people with purchases and answer questions. Requires training with credit card reader. (10 needed)

Children’s Activities Assistant: Help children with letters and drawings for Gambian pen pals. Help kids stuff backpacks with school supplies for Gambian children. (6 needed)

Performer Assistants: Serve as host to musicians and make sure they have what they need – food, beverages, place to relax before playing, etc. (downstairs room reserved for performers) (3 needed)

Clean-Up: Help pack up and clean up at end of evening. (10 needed)


Contact Volunteer Coordinator Ann Fasano if you’d like to join the fun!   

AWIS – Global Empowerment of Women Through STEM. Oct 15, 2014


Wednesday, October 15th, 2014, 6:00pm

Association for Women in Science – Seattle  (AWIS)

Global Empowerment of Women through STEM


  • Lillian Baer – Chairperson, Board of Directors, The Grandmother Project
  Shelby Tarutis – Director and Founder, GambiaHELP
  • Ginna Brelsford, Executive Directory, Ayni Education International


  • 6:00pm – Networking and Refreshments
  • 6:30pm – Introductions and Presentation
  • 7:30pm – Networking


  • Pelton Auditorium, Weintraub Building
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • 1100 Fairview Ave N.
  • Seattle, WA 98109

Please enter through Thomas Building

Free Visitor Parking


West Africa Live! – Thanks to our Supporters

Thanks to all our supporters who attended West Africa Live!


Young boy dancing in The Gambia

It was a pleasure so see so many familiar faces and to meet new people as well.  I was especially impressed with all the young people who attended both as volunteers and as participants.  I’m grateful to both Ann Fasano and Lisa Stuebing for bringing these young people into our family.

We sold a lot of backpacks at $75 each and so there will be a lot of happy students in The Gambia next year! 

As one of our supporters wrote:

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do something good and worthwhile.  Great people, great food and some great performers. It seemed like everyone had a permanent smile on their face.  Give yourself a pat on the back  for doing such a fine job of putting it all together.  I look forward to doing my little part again next year.

Through your generosity we were able to make enough money for the Chicken Farm for the village of Kerewan.  This is a Gambian village where the children have trouble learning because of poor nutrition.  Along with the Garden which we funded last year, this will be a significant aid to the children of Kerewan.  

We still want to rebuild the school there.  There always seem to be more worthwhile projects than we can fund.  If you were unable to attend West Africa Live! and would like to make a tax deductible donation, please do so.

DONATE NOW!  Thanks again to all our supporters. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

Shelby Tarutis  206 660-5826


Thione Diop

Thione Diop — Photo by Raman Chandrasekar

Performances included:

  • Dancing, singing and drumming by Gansango Music & Dance Company
  • JeConte & the Mali Allstars
  • Thione Diop and his band Yeke Yeke
  • The enchanting music of the 21-string Mandinka harp played by  kora masters Kane Mathis & Sean Gaskell
  • Hands-on activities for children
  • Traditional West African dishes from Bantaba African Restaurant
  • Wine, beer, and nonalcoholic ginger, hibiscus drinks and dessert available for purchase.

The Mali Allstars’ “soulful tunes merge West African rhythms, reggae, strains and Afropop grooves with seductive New Orleans blues and earthy California rock.”


Proceeds will benefit a village nursery school in The Gambia where children have difficulty learning because of poor nutrition. Last year we started a garden, now we need to rebuild the nursery school and start a poultry farm that will add much needed protein to the children’s diets.

GambiaHELP is a Seattle-based nonprofit that seeds health, education and small-business projects in The Gambia.  We are looking for more volunteers and sponsors – call Shelby Tarutis at 206-253-6924.

Volunteer Meeting May 22, 2014 6:30-8pm


Join us in planning for an exciting year ahead!
GambiaHELP is having a VOLUNTEER MEETING on THURSDAY, May 22 from 6:30 – 8pm
at 3920 NE 38th Street, Seattle, WA 98103.

TOPICS to include: February, 2014 Trip to The Gambia, BigGIVE Results, Event Planning,
Outreach Opportunities and more!

Please RSVP by WEDNESDAY, May 21 so that we have beverages and food for everyone.
Bring Friends!! or call 206-523-6924.


2014 – May 6th, Tuesday, GiveBIG! – The Seattle Foundation

give-big-logo-2014GiveBIG – 2014

Donate between midnight and midnight
TODAY – Tuesday, May 6th

Click here to give to GambieHELP
Scroll down to the red “Donate Now” button

GiveBIG is a community-wide day of giving hosted by The Seattle Foundation that will increase the size of your donation to us. Please take this opportunity to “stretch” your gift to GambiaHELP to enable girls to go to school and support our skills training programs for women.

GiveBIG is a unique, one-day, online charitable giving event encouraging residents of King County to give locally. Through GiveBIG, King County residents are asked to give to a local nonprofits of their choosing through The Seattle Foundation’s online Giving Center. Contributions are partially matched by a “stretch pool” provided by The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors. The goal of GiveBIG is to raise money for the community while introducing charitably minded people to hundreds of excellent and efficient nonprofits on The Seattle Foundation’s Giving Center that make our region a healthier and more vital place to live.

Thank you for your consideration,

For the Children,

Shelby C. Tarutis, GambiaHELP Executive Director

GambiaHELP is recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) charitable/educational organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible. 95% of all donations go directly to projects in The Gambia

2014, Feb. 13-14 Payment of School Fees

A major component of our work in The Gambia is supporting children in school.  We primarily support orphaned students – paying the school fees, the school badge cost, paying for 2 uniforms, 2 pairs of shoes, books, supplies and a daily lunch. Some of our program beneficiaries are below:


Sally Jallow

Sally Jallow

Today and yesterday we visited Banjulinding Primary and Upper Basic Schools to connect with the children we are supporting.  At fundraising events in Seattle, donors have the opportunity to purchase a backpack full of school supplies for $75.  Those backpacks were given out here.

Aja Jainaba Bah

Aja Jainaba Bah


Hadyjatou Badjie

Hadyjatou Badjie

2014, Feb. 14 The Point Newspaper

Today the article came out in the Point Newspaper covering the Banjulinding Handing Over Ceremony.  As a result Essa Camara, GambiaHELP Country Coordinator has been receiving requests for assistance.  We plan to review these requests after our planned trip up-country to the provinces this Thursday.

The Point article:

Gambia-HELP donates school materials to Banjulinding LBS

Friday, February 14, 2014
Gambia-HELP on Thursday donated school materials worth of US$3,000 to Banjulinding Lower Basic School in the Kombo North District, West Coast Region.The materials included 14 bicycles, 13 cartons of reading materials, 6 boxes of art sets and a box of shoes, among others.The materials were geared towards easing the learning constraints of the students, as well as their transportation, as 60 per cent of the students live in the neighbouring villages and have to walk to school to attend lessons.In an interview with The Point, Gambia-HELP Director Shelby Tarutis said the project is promoting education and developing lives, adding that they have been in the country for seventeen years working primarily in the rural areas supporting sustainable projects for women and children.Director Tarutis, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia in the 1980s, posted in Dankunku in the Central River Region, and worked in their primary school and the health clinic, said she became inspired when she fell in love with The Gambia and her people.She said from there, she devoted her life helping with sustainable project developments for the communities, while advising students to excel in their studies to better their lives and families in the future.

The school headmaster, Momodou A.L. Sonko, extended gratitude and appreciation for the gesture, saying the school was established in 1994, and currently has a total enrollment of 2,020 students.

He assured the donors of a proper use of the items, saying that 60 per cent of the students are from the surrounding communities.

Sunkari Jammeh-Darboe, on behalf of the village mothers’ club, thanked the donors for enhancing their children with the learning materials, which, she said, would greatly ease the educational burden on parents.

Author: Adama K. Jallow

2014, Feb. 13 Banjulinding Handing Over Ceremony

We arrived at the tailors this morning in time to pick up our Handing Over dresses and rush to Banjulinding Primary School for the presentation.  I hadn’t prepared a speech and so was using the travel time to mentally prepare something in my head.


Primary School Children Singing Strong

Primary School Children Singing Strong

The children, parents, school committees, and people of the village of Banjulinding were present and filled the school yard.  The news crew arrived right after we were seated at the high table.  Sitting along side us was the Chief of Banjulinding, the Headmaster of the school, the Head of the Village Development Committee, President of the Mother’s Club and others.  Essa’s mother Binta Badjie, her sister, Joks Camara and other members of the core family were also present in front as contributing members.


Banjulinding Comunity

Banjulinding Comunity


We handed over 14 bicycles, backpacks, 14 boxes of books and paint supplies, yarn, slippers (flip-flops), pens and other educational materials.  In addition to the supplies we paid school fees for 8 children.  The fee payment included payment for two school uniforms, a daily school lunch, 2 pairs of shoes, books, a school badge, and test fees.


Mother's Club President Handing Over Backpack

Mother’s Club President Handing Over Backpack

14 Bicycles for Students

14 Bicycles for Students

It was a wonderful day – full of promise and joy.


Cultural Presentation by Banjulinding Students

Cultural Presentation by Banjulinding Students


Shortly after the presentation, Adama, a reported from The Point newspaper interviewed me in the Headmaster’s office. Using a tape recorder he taped responses to his questions which covered many of the topics mentioned at the handing over.  He told me that the report would be printed the very next day.  The only thing he needed me to do was to send a photo for the article. I promised I would and he left with tape recorder in hand.





2014, Feb. 12 Shopping & The Tailor

Today we went to the grocery store and purchased more staples. Spending $D1,700.00.

Tonight we go to the airport to pick up Diane Lang.  Diane was a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia in the early 1980’s, when I was.  Her arrival time is 6:30pm.

After picking up Diane we traveled to the tailors where we are having dresses made for the Handing Over Ceremony scheduled for tomorrow at Banjulinding Primary School.

Although exhausted, Diane was measured, I was measured and the dress style was selected.  I learned later that Essa’s mother had gone in person to the tailors earlier to stress upon him that they needed to be made for tomorrow’s presentation – where we expect television and newspaper coverage to be present.

The tailor said he would work through the night to make sure the dresses were completed on time.