Dianne, Founder and Executive Director of “Musical Friends”, a Dutch base NGO visited the Gambia for April 11th to 18th 2008 as a host of the Association for Local Self Reliance (ALSRE) , a local NGO. During her stay, Dianne visited several ALSRE project sites and held a series of meetings with key stakeholders.
In the company of ALSRE officials, she visited two communities who are key partners where she was given rousing welcome with colorful ceremony of singing, drumming and dancing. At the first village- Kubuneh - she was particularly moved by the warm welcome and hospitality of the people. The people expressed delight over her visit and looked forward to working with her in the realization of their goal of overcoming poverty through hard work and doing income generating ventures.
Sotokoi village was the second village she visited and was given a similar welcoming reception. Dianne was made a “citizen of the village by the womenfolk and village head and given a local name. The community decided to call her Khaddy JeJu, the name of the Village heads mother, as a show of appreciation for her visit. The women gave her a gift as a symbolic gesture for their desire to get support from her.
Dianne also visited several ALSRE project sites managed by partners. These included the Bundung Vocational Skills Centre, Taku Legay Skills Centre, Luc’s Nursery school at Dippa kunda and LAMTORO school system. Dianne was welcomed by the officials of all these organizations and she had fruitful discussions with regards to their aims and objectives as well as the challenges they are facing. She promised to report their concerns and needs to friends and organizations in Holland for possible assistance. The LAMTORO school network named Dianne the “Mother” of the school. Dianne had opportunity to holds talks with key players of this school system including teachers and the proprietor and founder of the school.
The main projects visited by Dianne included vegetable garden projects for women, poultry, skills training and Nursery schools. All of these have the potential for alleviating poverty in one way of the other. The partners are ready to contribute land and labor for the construction of facilities for educational and skills training purposes. Two of the communities have also provided land for the establishment of Vegetable gardens and Daycare centers for pre-school children.
At the end of her visit, Dianne was appointed the Technical Adviser of ALSRE and her NGO a partner of ALSRE in the Gambia. She is now in a better position to advance the cause of these communities and organizations through advocacy and fund raising. All most all of the activities she went through was captured by a digital camera.
Overall, it can be summarized that Dianne’s visit was a resounding success and mostly wonderful experience. She was able to learn first hand what ALSRE and its key partners are trying to do to help communities fight poverty, ignorance and poor health. She was deeply moved by the hospitality of the villagers.