Our biggest projects include building libraries, schools, and skill centers. Skill centers are buildings where the community can receive training, have meetings, store supplies out of the weather and make the goods for their sustainable projects.
The projects GambiaHELP supports come from the needs and dreams of the communities in The Gambia. GambiaHELP requires the community to donate 25% of the project in labor, services and land donations. This is a time consuming method, but because of this dedication and commitment, our projects have long lasting results and are beneficial to the entire community.
This is only one aspect of the incredible projects that GAMBIA HELP does. Please read the personal blog of Director Shelby from this year's trip. It details the work she so willingly and generously does.
Susan Moen, Board Member
I have been to Gambia with Shelby Tarutis to distribute money for schools, scholarships, clinics, libraries and Women's cooperatives. Over 95% of the money raised is used in projects in Gambia to help Gambians in sustainable ways. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, she speaks the language; Director Tarutis opens communication about what projects are the most needed iny the villages by talking with the elders. Over 55 libraries have been refurbished or built by her projects. I was incredibly impressed by her work.
I have been working with Shelby and the GambiaHELP team for over a decade, and I currently on the Board. I have visited school libraries that GambiaHELP supports, delivered backpacks filled with school supplies to students (the picture are students from Sukuta Primary School), seen malaria nets that women have sewn on sewing machines given by GambiaHELP and unloaded a container filled with medical supplies and bikes to be distributed throughout the country. It has been a pleasure and honor to be part of the organization and to see the incredible results of the work that GambiaHELP has done for all Gambians.
The libraries are bright, warm rooms filled with books that the students and teachers eagerly use. It is not uncommon to have schools without books, without libraries. One can only imagine how difficult it is teach and learn without resources. Setting up libraries with hundreds of books and providing other educational supplies has helped students learn in ways that they had not known before and opened them to the love of learning.
Women have been supported with loans, milling machines and sewing machines that assist them to gain skills and produce goods both for their own use and sell to support and provide for themselves and their families. Options for women are not many in the country. With GambiaHELP's assistance they have opportunities. Health centres are equipped with medical supplies and office equipment to be able to administer, aid and support the people of local communities. Supplies are scarce and expensive. GambiaHELP has provided much needed resources.
The volunteers that have donated their time and energy to GambiaHELP are amazing. Generous. Kind. Willing to help however they can. I have met volunteers both in Seattle and throughout The Gambia and admire their energy. They are fabulous people.
Shelby is recognized and appreciated in many circles in The Gambia. Going to a village with her is quite a treat with people of all ages running up to see and touch her. She is one of those rare individuals whose power to give is endless. The people in Gambia know how special she is and appreciate all that she has done. I am in awe of her caliber and dedication to the mission of GambiaHELP.