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What is the Kingfisher Trust - The Gambia


WHAT is the Kingfisher

Trust - The Gambia?

By Bijou Peters

Many of us have traveled along Kairaba Avenue many times and not noticed the signboard on the right side of this road next door to St. Theresa's Secondary School, beating the name, Kingfisher Trust. Others may have seen it but have no idea of what it is or what the name signifies. Our reporter went to find out about the association and now reports on her discovery.

The Kingfisher Trust is a charitable association, founded in the 1980's to help The Gambia in its development programs. Mr. Simon Wezel is the secretary general. He told our reporter that the association is involved in funding small projects costing up to D10, • 000 each. And how do you \i know about projects requiring funding asked the reporter. 'Requests are made officially, coming firm many different sources. For instance we are assisting in the educational sector and we are at present funding a nursery school at Pirang', responded Mr. Wezel. This school was started on `tesito' basis — the women of this community, most of whom are farmers had nowhere to leave their little children when they went to their farms. Some with no alternative took these children with them, which was not an ideal situation. They came together to discuss the subject and to arrive at a solution to the problem. At the end of the deliberations a Day Care center or nursery was established where children could be safely left to play with

other children. Wezel stressed that he had two assistants -- one of them a Nigerian. He said because the work was voluntary and with no remuneration, it was not easy to get teachers to stay long at their posts. The Kingfisher Trust is helping to build a kitchen and a store 1 and a simple accommodation for the administrator and a toilet for the children. With a completed kitchen, it is envisaged that the children would benefit from the world food programme and receive meals daily.

The association has also funded the construction and development of skill centres where tie and dye tuition is Offered to women and the making of small but useful items which can be sold to generate income for them and to augment the funds they obtain out of their vegetable gardens. It was reported that the tie and dye project at Pirang has been a great success. At the Julangel Upper Basic and Skill Training Centres where accommodation for the teaching staff has become difficult due to the expansion of the centre and an increase in the number of staff; the association has been requested to assist with the construction of a 4 room staff quarters which is now in progress. Funding has been requestld to improve the toilets at Bansang youth centre and also, for the improvement of the skills centre at the latter centre. The Kingfisher Trust does not provide funds by means of hard cash but supplies building materials such as cement, sand, gravel etc. It was also noted that the association is giving substantial assistance to the educational sector of the country.

Village women of Pirang and Mandaur have discovered and developed their creativity but with help from the Kingfisher Trust. They have been taught basic business skills, enabling them to work together as a group. They were introduced to the Gambian Women's Finance Association (GWFA) where they were able to save and bonow funds to expand their businesses. Those in Mandaur have only just completed their training and are enthusiastically producing bedsheets, tablecloths and napkins and other small items for income generating. lire Kingfisher Trust aims to-assist women in many other villages to learn similar skills, according to Mr. Wezel. A volunteer of the association, Deryn Fox and Mr. Mustapha Touray, an experienced tie and dye craftsmen have been working with groups of women in these two villages.

The Kingfisher Trust is also establishing a scheme to provide schools with first aid boxes, a much needed kit for any emergency, for use at police stations and community centres. The boxes are made locally by metal workers and the contents purchased from the local pharmaceutical shops.

Nursery schools in The Gambia receive no state funding and so most of them are poorly equipped. The association provides the basic requirements of slates and exercise books, which are made and printed at the Kingfisher Trust office, for nursery schools.Football is a popular game in The Gambia but proper training for this sport is not always available Recently the association invited four FIFA coaches. from England to spend week, imparting their skill and training Gambia footballers at Mandaur Brikama and Serrekunda. East. The senior coach Sid Wells, had visited Th Gambia before and retumed home with good reports of his experiences and encouraged three football coaches to join him during hi second visit. The Gambia was privileged to have the coaches travel out to train and work with our boys. The Kingfisher Trust donate football, shirts to the boys Seven Gambian coaches received a training shirt and hat from the British coaches Peter Davis, a freelance photographed the week's activities.

What is the Kingfisher Trust The Gambia?

Photographer who has links with a major British Sunday newspaper. He cam to the country with the football coaches to capture the spirit of football here by filming and is hoping publish a series of photo depicting his visit which may encourage assistance from readers and sponsorship of local teams.

The association can also arrange links with schools in England as the often receive requests from children in Europe who wish to formally link their school with one in the Gambia. The also undertake Printing an recently I had some newsletters printed at th Kingfisher Tnist office an which were beautifully done The trust receives container with useful items such a sewing machines, schoo materials, tools and medics equipment, from gencrou individuals and organisation, in the United Kingdom, Iron time to time and which ar distributed to schools, the hospitals and various skill centres as the need arises.

The main aim of the Kingfisher Trust is not only to work for Gambians, but with them and with other agencies to promote villag, self sufficiency throng] literacy and skill development such as ha been illustrated here. At th same time encouraging healthier standard of living.

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