I have just returned from three weeks in The Gambia…to catch up on the adult education and business projects we support and to learn more about the new women’s empowerment programme we are working with – No Woman Left Behind.
I’m not going to write about how tough it’s been in the past couple of years in The Gambia – that’s true for most of us and certainly everywhere we work. Nor am I going to write much about the simple joy of being back working face to face with our partners – Dianne has done that so well in her post about our return – you can read it here
I shall just say that spending time with the projects we work with is a real blessing and inspiration.
And now to update you on the business and adult education volunteer programmes .
I spent most of my time working with the President, Fatou Hydara
and the Executive of a women’s empowerment organisation called No Woman Left Behind (NWLB)
I can honestly say despite the challenges ( and there were many – most related to lack of power and internet or the huge demands placed on these young women by others) that it is quite one of the most rewarding things I have done for some time.
NWLB ( the equivalent of a community social enterprise or CIC) has been established by the students of a cookery and food processing skills programme managed by our partners at The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG). The course provides cookery, small business and life skills for young women who have been previously exploited, trafficked or treated badly at the hands of others.
NWLB aims to be a self-support group and network with other women’s associations to support other exploited women in The Gambia – to enable them to generate a reliable income and thus become independent and resilient.
They will do this through the sale of their products such as pastries and local event catering – events can be anything from weddings, naming ceremonies to corporate events – for as few as 10 to as many as 300.
How can you help? Here are a few ideas
- Production of Publicity and packaging materials
- Help with marketing NWLB to appropriate internal markets
- Basic book keeping, costing and cash management
- Help NWLB in its fundraising and business proposal reports
- Story telling
- Marketing videos
- Organisation skills
- Human resource skills
- Life skills such as problem solving and planning
- Social Media
- IT skills
- Business language and terminology (though all the executive speak quite good English, it is their second or third language and they have not been exposed to “business speak”)
They are accomplished cooks – they just need our support and encouragement.
They have already raised enough money to register as an official association and pay for the printing of some leaflets and banners.
And now to our partners at The Institute of Travel and Tourism in The Gambia (ITTOG)
The College has, (through the support of The West African Institute of Insurance) relocated to perfect accommodation with airy, light classrooms, a catering kitchen, a training dining room and admin offices…perfect and only minutes walk from all our volunteer accommodation options.
ITTOG has traditionally provided accredited training courses in travel and tourism-related subjects, ranging from Higher Professional Diplomas to tour guiding. These will continue – but fee collection has been a real challenge during the pandemic.
The introduction of skills-based experiential learning courses such as the cookery course that inspired the creation of NWLB has been a great success and ITTOG will now develop its curriculum to provide students with the specialist skills required to work in a specific area of employment within the tourism and hospitality industry such as cookery, events management and performing arts and to mentor them as they become independent earners.
How can you help? Here are a few ideas :-
-develop course modules and materials
-share your skills in dance and other creative arts
-share your events management skills
-share your small business skills
-develop experiential teaching and learning strategies such as the use of case studies and role-play
So as you can see I was pretty busy during my stay – but I did manage some R and R.