Gikoo ‘Hope” Benefit Concert for the Children of The Gambia, Nov. 24, 2013


Tickets $10 Advance   206-709-9442

Doors Open at 8pm
Presented by OPENHEART and


At The Barboza

925 E. Pike, Seattle, WA 98122

Featured Performances by:

Mickey Davis

(Little Hearts, Cali Giraffes)

Hearts Are Thugs

Rebels Rising

Whitney Monge’


Nancy Colton



Exclusive Limited Edition
T-Shirts Available
Only at this Show

T-Shirt Art by Eelus



West Africa Live October 19, 2013 at Town Hall Seattle

Africa Live Graphic copyYou are invited to


experience the drumming, dancing, music,
food and magic of West Africa
A Festival to Benefit Children in Africa.
WHERE: Town Hall Seattle 1119 8th Avenue, Seattle WA
WHEN: Saturday, October 19th, 6:30pm

Featuring performances by:

Gansango Music & Dance Company
Senegalese percussionist Thione Diop
Kora masters Kane Mathis & Sean Gaskell
Mandinka drummers Modibo Traore and Bob Thompson of “Wulibaa”

More on our great performers

For more information and to purchase tickets

Eventbrite - West Africa Live

You can also buy meal tickets in advance to guarantee
the plate of your choice

Proceeds from this event will go to the children in the village of Kerewan in The Gambia. We will be expanding a nursery school and developing a garden to supplement the children’s diet. Data indicates that this village has too few children attending school and many suffering from malnutrition. The community identified this project and we have come on board to assist them. The community is contributing 25% of the project costs as well.

Special Thanks to our Sponsors: Car Tender, Summit Law Group, Stanford, Munko and Co., P.L.L.C., Tarutis and Brunstrom, PS.


2013-09-28 ganzago ganzago2
Gansango Music & Dance draws on the stunning talent of a multicultural group of international dancers and musicians presenting traditional and contemporary dance and music from West Africa. The company is directed by Etienne Cakpo, originally from Benin and now a teacher and choreographer based in Seattle.
thionediop_2-1 Thione Diop, a percussionist from Senegal, West Africa, and his band Yeke Yeke is widely recognized for his powerfully expressive Djembe performances. He is descended from an ancestral line of Senegalese griot drummers – traditional musical storytellers – and is a master of the djembe, sabar, tama, and djun djun. thionediop_10
Performing on the 21-string Mandinka harp, Kane Mathis renders compelling interpretations of  West African kora music, the traditional medium of Gambian griots or historical poets. Years of study with masters in The Gambia have given Mathis a rare opportunity to share this tradition with other cultures. Over the past 10 years, his performances have earned him recognition by the Gambian president, the Gambian minister of culture, national television and radio in The Gambia.  kane mathis 2 crop
Seattle-based kora player Sean Gaskell has toured throughout the United States, and been featured at numerous music festivals in The Gambia and Senegal. He released his first solo album “Kora Music of West Africa” in 2012.  sean-gaskell crop

Modibo Traore and Bob Thompson of “Wulibaa” perform Mandinka and Jola rhythms and songs from The Gambia and Senegal. Traore, a drummer, singer, and dancer from Casamance, Senegal, specializes in the musical styles of the Mandinka and Jola ethnic groups. Thompson is a Seattle-based drummer who studies Mandinka drumming and singing.



Seattle Foundation Give Big 2013

GiveBIG2013_color_date smThanks to all for your generous support of GambiaHELP through Seattle Foundations’ GiveBig in May 2013.  We made almost $4000 from this event!  The donations from GiveBig will go toward the establishment of a nursery school with a nutritional supplementation program in the village of Kerewan.  This is a Gambian village where the children are under-enrolled in school and who have been reported to be suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition. These donations enable us to work on a very positive health intervention!

Thanks again for all your support!

GambiaHELP Equips Banjulinding Health Center

The Daily Observer – Moving Forward with The Gambia featured an article on GambiaHELP in April, 2013.

The Gambia Health, Education and Liaison Project (Gambia HELP), a charitable organization that seeks to enable Gambian communities improve their health, and education and, to build a sustainable economy and environment, has over the weekend equipped the Banjulinding Health Centre with some office and medical stuffs.


Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Yahya Bah, the Imam of Banjulinding, expressed delight and profound gratitude to Gambia HELP for the donation, noting that the materials came at a time when they were much needed. He informed that the Banjulinding Health Centre is the major health post in the locality and that about 33 communities in the neighbourhood benefit from its services, yet the centre is seriously lacking equipment and medication.

Read the entire article


Here’s the news clip from the Banjulinding Skill Center 2013.  They call me Binta which is my African name.  This was a good sign as they feel I am so integrated into the community there is no need to use my American name.

2013, March 20, Students Isatou and David Robert

March 20, 2013

Today I started the morning by hand washing clothes in a bucket, having instant coffee (Italian Roast VIA Starbucks brand) and had a couple of Scottish Shortbread, which was leftover from our snacks up-country.

Today Essa and I traveled to New Life Upper Basic School to pay Isatou’s school fee and exam fees. We were lucky because Isatou and her brother David were in the schoolyard at the time of our arrival. It was good to see them, a first time since my arrival in The Gambia.

20-boy    20-girl

We plan  to have a meeting with the CEO of the Jammeh Foundation and the entire  family on Saturday. We will be setting up a medical account so that Sonnie,  the mother can be seen.  Her leg is swollen and has been bothering her a lot limiting her ability to work.  This limitation results in the family having less food to eat – it is a fact here in The Gambia – life can be very, very hard.


20-boy and girlIsatou and David Robert at New Life Upper Basic School

2013, March 17, Lists, Meetings and Thoughts

It is hard to believe that I have 9 more days to go…

The list for Monday keeps growing and as the departure date gets closer the “to do” list becomes even longer. It looks like this so far:

  • Set up Jammeh Foundation meeting to obtain medical care for Robert’s Family
  • Pay rest of Roberts school fees and schedule home visit
  • Pay Binta Sanneh 10th Grade school fees at Muslim Senior Secondary School.
  • Funds to Essa for container clearance and bicycle repair.
  • Pay fees for Banjulinding students, obtain responses to pen pal letters and take photos of children.
  • Meet Abubakar Bah, Headmaster at Kudang for priorities list and discussion.
  • Prepare Case Management list for Essa to cover remaining tasks we don’t get completed in the next 9 days.
  • Obtain Proformas for items identified as needed at Banjulinding Skills Center Rehabilitation [attach list]
  • Visit Cherno Gaye, past MD of GPPC and supporter of work.
  • Draft letter to Regional District Head re changing staff and lack of continuity- ask Cherno to proof re protocol issues.
  • Define skills training support and outline what Yamai can do as a facilitator/data developer for measuring center’s outcomes. Set meeting with Women’s Head.

There have been so many new people this trip that actually getting connected beyond the greeting and “hello” is difficult.

I have one tentative meeting with the Abubacar Bah, new Headmaster at Kudang Senior Secondary School to discuss the outcome of his community meeting.  He’s to draft a list of school project priorities.

When we first met, he had told me about the many issues he would like to address and seek funding for – I told him he needed to obtain community input and to bring a priority list to me. After that, we could discuss further development of a proposal. This is a new Headmaster and he brings with him the motivation and zeal newness brings. I liked his enthusiasm and want to see him take the necessary steps to make something happen at the school. It is the persistence and dedication to the students that usually brings out the extra-ordinary from the ordinary. It is too often that school heads maintain the status quo.

This trip I met several new Principals and Headmasters that appeared motivated. At three of the schools we frequent every year both the Deputy Headmasters and the Headmasters have been replaced. The new appointees did not have a record of our ever being at the school. There was no file, nothing.

Essa appeared quite distressed to learn that not one of the three principals we had been relating to (for 4-5 years), exchanged information with the incoming Headmasters. We were told by the Kudang Headmaster to report our frustrations to the Regional District Office, Mr. Gibril Bah. Because of our time limitations we could not pay a personal visit. Instead I will write a formal letter seeking his assistance. I will ask Essa to follow-up my letter with a telephone call to the Regional Office.

The issues that were on the mind of the new Headmaster are as follows:

  • Home Science Lab has no materials
  • Trust fund not funding girls as in the past and the fees are $375.00/Grade 7, $300/Grade 8, 9. Seeks funding for boys since they can be sent home for non-payment whereas the girls can not (due to the trust fund).
  • Science Lab for all grades has no materials – no beakers, nothing
  • Lots of drop-outs due to pregnancy and lack of funds to pay school fees. Wants to see a computer training class – there is an extra classroom that could be used for this purpose.
  • E-learning has been sponsored by the World Bank but it is not for drop-outs.

The school is fed by 17 communities. A observation tour of the school indicates that it needs maintenance, better furnishings [desks in disrepair] and the library could use more books, not just any books, but quality books.

17 library     17 library2 copy

This Senior Secondary library was started by one organization, but completed by USAID. USAID is not doing any more libraries. However, Peace Corps seems to be developing them (as witnessed in Jappineh). (Me: to investigate the country/govt. opinion on library development and that of NGOs)

A huge support to his school, he indicated, would be teacher capacity building – give them more training on “child centered delivery”. I asked what he meant and he said to involve the child in his/her learning rather than dictate the lessons through continuous lecture and rote memorization. He said a group called FAWEGAM has done this training before for schools and has found it very effective. (Me: to investigate the FAWEGAM program, outcomes and funders).

The art department appeared to be doing well although the art teacher asked how he could obtain more materials.  The projects by the students had just been scored by the examination staff so they were all laid out on tables in the art classroom.  A sample of the projects are below.  The top two are student embroideries.  Below is a painting on glass.

17 embroidery      17 embroidery2

17 painting on glass


2013, March 15, Dankunkuku, Sofanyama, Sitahuma, Jappineh, and Kudang

Essa, Harouna and I left Kerewan at 9:00 AM this morning in order to get to Dankunku, Sofanyama, Sitahuma, Jappineh, and Kudang before nightfall.

15-children Girls at Sofanyama Primary

At Sofanyama Primary School, which is located in the village of Katamina, we saw the newly renovated library.  The change from last year is dramatic.  The before and after pictures illustrate what a small donation can do.

15 library before       15 library before2
Library before Renovation

There are some additional pieces of work that need to be done but essentially it is complete.  There needs to be more wire placed over the bars on the windows to prevent loss of materials and the wood used to hold the corrugate roof material to the walls is not termite-proof. If this isn’t changed then there will be leaks and damage to the books again. Essa will see that treated wood replaces this inferior, less expensive wood. 

15-library outside   15-library2 copy

15-library3    15-library5
                                Library after Renovation

Room next to library is now an  additional classroom