Aja Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, the vice president and Secretary of State for Women’s Affair, yesterday received in her office a cheque amounting to D123,000 from the Open Society Organization in UK, on behalf of Sulayman Junkung Hospital in Bwiam.
The cheque, according to officials, was meant to support the hospital’s solar energy project.
Presenting the cheque, Sam Forster, the coordinator of the organisation in The Gambia, said the donation was as a result of the visit of 25 members of the organisation to the hospital, last year, when they learnt about the solar energy project, which this donation is meant to support.
Mr Forster told the vice president that the organisation, which is a charitable one, was formed by Gambians and UK citizens some four years ago, with the objective of looking after the health and education of children. "Since 2004, we had a series of projects in the country, notably, in the Western Region, where we have a goal project in Bwiam, which aims at supporting child nutrition in hospitals," he said.
The Open Hand Society Organization country coordinator believed that the donation would go a long way in supplementing the efforts of the solar project, and he expressed his organisation’s resolve to support the health and education sector of the country.
Receiving the gesture, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, hailed the donors for the gesture, noting that investing in the health sector is the responsibility of every concerned citizen. She described the organization as a genuine one, since they stand to support the health and education of children.
The vice president commended the nutrition project of the organisation, noting that nutrition is very important to the health delivery system.
"Improving the nutrition status of people is very important, especially to the vulnerable children in hospitals. Our hospitals are not only in need of drugs and other facilities, but nutrition as well," she said, noting that her department, through the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), addresses issues relating to good nutrition.
Madam Njie-Saidy urged the organisation to network with other organizations in the UK in a bid to mobilise more resources for the Sulayman Junkung Hospital.
For his part, Dr Malick Njie, secretory of state for Health and Social Welfare, commended the donors for the gesture. He told them that the installment of electric facilities for the Sulayman Junkung Hospital was a cause championed by an American medical student who, after what turned out to be an impressive visit to the hospital, decided to raise funds for the solar project.
According to SoS Njie, the American medical student has gone far in the process, noting that she has raised funds for not only the solar project, but other medical equipment, which are awaiting shipment into the country. He expressed gratitude to the Executive of the organisation for the support to the country’s health sector, adding that such gestures would make a difference to the project.
Kebba Badjie, the chief executive officer of the Sulayman Junkung Hospital, assured the donors of the prudent utilisation of the funds. He noted that the money would soon be handed over to Gamsolar for upgrading of the solar facilities at the hospital.
The hospital’s CEO was quick to inform the donors that his hospital had already acquired the amount of money needed to ensure 90 per cent of the solar energy requirements of the hospital. He stated that the amount currently stands at $300,000 (three hundred thousand dollars).
CEO Badjie described the organisation as a genuine friend of The Gambia, and he saluted them for the magnanimous gesture.
Organisation Operation No Back Way to Europe
In a separate engagement at State House, Vice President Njie-saidy also received in her office the executive members of the Organisation Operation No Back Way to Europe.
Led to State House by the secretary of state for Youth and Sports, Sheriff Gomez, the association’s visit was meant to brief Madam Njie-Saidy about the reason behind its composition and objectives, which is mainly to curb illegal migration to Europe through the Atlantic Ocean.
Speaking at the occasion, Lamin Drammeh, the secretary general of the organisation, told the vice president that his organisation was born out of a desire to discourage the youths from venturing into dangerous routes to Europe. He noted that their objectives, among other things, include curbing of illegal migration, the creation of awareness campaign about the dangers associated with illegal migration, as well as provision of professional training opportunities to young people.
Drammeh expressed his organisation’s resolve to curb illegal migration, noting that the phenomenon has "drained the cream of Africa’s human resource base."
Sheriff Gomez, SoS for Youth and Sports, commended the organisation’s commitment to address illegal migration. He noted that young people should be empowered to achieved their dreams and aspiration, and he expressed his department of state’s commitment to championing the cause. He urged the organisation to be committed to their objective and acknowledge the government’s investment in youth development.
Reacting to comments, Vice President Njie-Saidy hailed the organisation for such a "noble initiative" and implored them to ensure the sustainability of the organisation. She noted that the organisation was not the first of its kind in the country, and as such, the members should work towards achieving their set goals and objectives.
She asserted that many efforts were put in place by the government to discourage youth from venturing into such risky ventures, stating that despite all efforts, the youths continue to venture on dangerous routes to Europe.
While assuring them of the government’s support, Vice President Njie-Saidy urged them to decentralise their programmes and activities to all regions of the country so as to attract wider membership.
Other speakers included Ousman Sonko, secretary of state for the Interior, and Mambanyick Njie, permanent secretary, Department of State for Youth and Sport, amongst others.