As the sustainable projects that GambiaHELP supports have grown, there has been a clear need for spaces where these projects can be worked on and supplies, equipment, tools and finished goods can be stored.
Dankunku Skill Center
We built our first Skill Center in Dankunku where there was a real need to store sewing machines securely out of the weather so that mosquito bed-nets could be constructed and stored. Additionally, the women’s group made tie-die decorative fabrics and having an indoor space meant they could work as needed out of the rains.
We were fortunate to have a generous donation for the construction of this project. As always, the village must support the project and supply 25% of the costs in labor and land.
A bonus which got the support of the whole community was that there would be a place for training classes, community meetings, and meetings between villages. This Skill Center now works as a community center that is scheduled by the women’s group. The women have a space for their projects and Dankunku and some of the surrounding villages have a useful community meeting place.
Future plans are to supply some solar electricity for this facility.
Banjulinding Skill Center
In early 2012, the Banjulinding Skill Center building was vandalized and thieves stole all the existing equipment, learning materials and furniture.
The building was owned and by the Village Development Committee (VDC), but they did not have the funds repair the building, purchase new equipment or replenish supplies.
The community supplied labor, working hard for their community. They were also able to raise $700 for the reconstruction of the building for a total contribution of 25% of the project.
The 45′ x 24′ building needed a major renovation. The floor and ceiling needed to be replaced. The outside needed new paint, the fence needed repair, and the doors needed to be replaced. The building had never had electricity or water. Connecting to electricity and water would greatly expand the use of the building for many projects throughout the community.
This renovated building will provide a place for the women’s group to make a sustainable income. Additionally, this area has 20,000 people and the renovation will provide a place for meetings, training and other educational purposes.
The women’s group requested training in making shoes and accessories. They had a trainer to provide the training, but needed sewing machines and supplies to begin their new sustainable enterprise. Through donations from many generous donors and a grant from the Bellevue Rotary we were able to complete this renovation and supply the sewing machines and supplies for the women’s group.
This cooperative started with a small fund. With donated yarn, the women learned how to crochet, knit, make shoes and sew clothing. Today they are making backpacks, shoes, handbags and clothes, and have encouraged the local youths to join them. With the older women as mentors and advisers, the girls are now taking the lead. We are still working to help them gain business skills and learn to promote their products in the local tourist industry.
The Banjulinding Women’s Cooperative has been a great success, and its young members are engaged and motivated to carry on the traditions of their elders and creative projects of their own. They still need some business training, and we hope to be able to fund a consultant to visit and advise them and other villagers with fledgling businesses.
Please contact GambiaHELP for additional information on giving opportunities. firstname.lastname@example.org 206-523-6924.
GambiaHELP is recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) charitable/educational organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible.