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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

GAMBIA HEALTH EDUCATION LIAISON PROJECT (GambiaHELP)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Higher Education, International, International Economic Development, International Relief, Literacy, Microfinance

Mission: GambiaHELP provides health and education resources & seed funding to projects that alleviate poverty and enhance the well-being of people in The Gambia.

Results: This year we are supporting 60 children, mostly orphans through our Educational Fund, providing books and school supplies to 50 rural schools requesting assistance, and rehabilitating several libraries that were damaged by heavy rains. We are currently fundraising to build a poultry farm and garden in the village of Kerewan [to fight malnutrition among very young children] and to build an 8--classroom block at Berending.

Target demographics: the children, the women, the economically disadvantaged and the environment.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 200 children and adults to be actively engaged in sustainable development and learning.

Geographic areas served: the rural villages of The Gambia engaging communities to develop sustainable projects.

Programs: The Library/Book Project: The development and building of libraries in primary and secondary schools throughout rural Gambia; Women's Empowerment Project is the training of women in cooperatives with marketable skills such a rice milling, cereal banking, sewing and small enterprise development (poultry farming and gardening); Education Fund is a program to send economically disadvantaged and orphaned boys and girls to school by payment of school fees, clothing, supplies, shoes and a daily lunch.

Community Stories

26 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Shelby Tarutis is commited, focused and totally dedicated to the people of Gambia, especially the women, children and families she helps each and every day with projects and programs funded by GambiaHELP. For almost two decades Shelby has worked to provide resources, education and motivation for people in small villages of this poor country. Her mission is to give a "hand up" to countless Gambians and to do her best to make these beautiful people self-sustaining and independent in their quest for a better life. Jamie Thomas

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I enjoy volunteering for GambiaHELP. As an all volunteer organization, you really get to feel good about the great work being done. I especially like the support GambiaHELP gives women's groups to help them with village based programs like batik, soap making and other village industries that the women then use to help the entire village.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

What really impresses me about GambiaHELP is that the volunteers work so hard to develop programs that help communities grow on a sustainable basis. They work with village elders and women's groups to make sure the project meets their needs and the community has to contribute 25%. It is amazing how eager the communities are for these small sustainable projects like dye-dying, mosquito nets, and soap making that they can make again and again to support their communities. This is really the model of "teaching the people to fish" rather than giving them a temporary handout.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Most Efficient, Most Reliable, does everything and beyond a non profitable organization is meant for, Always there for us. FOR THE CHILD

Lisa457

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer, i have the opportunity to serve as an advisor to the GambiaHELP Service Club at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, WA. The club is in its second year and very popular. Twenty-five students come to school for a 7 am meeting every single Tuesday morning during the school year. In six week cycles they brainstorm, vet, plan, promote and execute fundraisers. The current focus is to re-build the school in Berending, The Gambia. The new school is about 1/3 funded. It is exciting to see the incoming freshmen become global citizens as they realize that every snicker-doodle baked and sold actually goes to help a very real other student half-way around the world. The Seattle students get more and more focused as the year goes by. These are life lessons they will carry forever.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP is an organization that has done so much for the people of The Gambia, especially women and children. They continue to help transform the lives of so many people in The Gambia, by supporting projects identified by the communities that would directly benefit them.These projects include but not limited to education, healthcare and access to clean water, just to name a few. The organization has provided books to various schools. They have provided bicycles to a lot of school children from rural communities, to help alleviate their commute to and from school. I am very grateful to this organization for supporting among other things, the health center in my hometown of Banjulunding in the West Coast region of The Gambia.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

GambiaHELP is one of the best organizations helping children and women in The Gambia with education and health ,My whole family are volunteers and my employer is a donor.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every person is born with the right to be taught to read and understand the rudiments of scientific understanding. In the developing world this simple dignity is too often denied to women and girls. GambiaHELP puts donations directly into the hands of those who need them most; personally delivering books to school libraries, paying scholarships, and putting backpacks and school supplies into the hands of students. Every penny is used to further the mission (the chief executive's salary is $0). Join us and make a real difference in this winnable fight.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP is a wonderful organization that raises funds to support projects in the Gambia identified and proposed by the communities and people of Gambia. In addition to raising funds for projects, GambiaHELP also collects educational and medical supplies throughout the year in Seattle that are then shipped to Gambia. Shelby spends several months every year living in Gambia distributing the donations and learning about the needs and future projects from Gambians. I have volunteered for GambiaHELP for over 10 years and was able to go to Gambia to see all the wonderful projects that have been supported.

Advisor

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP has contributed alot to women's empowerment and girl's education in my country of The Gambia through cereal banking, skills development and paying for school fees for girls. This charity works with the community directly with a participatory process to build libraries, skill centers and digging wells.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Shelby knows how to make things happen! For decades, she has been cultivating relationships in The Gambia, and along with locals, figures out practical ways to give villages the boosts they need to get long-term projects rolling and thriving. She gives financial and logistical help to start educational, nutritional and small-business projects that benefit entire communities, and that the local people can sustain and develop on their own for years to come. I am happy to be able to contribute my time and funds, both of which I see used efficiently, sensibly, and with warm appreciation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP is an extraordinary organization with a great mission to give, provide and build. With several fundraisers and events, Director Shelby Tarutis and the organization's volunteers have truly made a difference through dedicating their time and energy into making a difference for the people of Gambia. I am happy to say that I have been a part of such a wonderful organization.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been involved with GambiaHelp for many years and feel it's a very worthwhile nonprofit to support. Shelby Tarutis is a close family friend and works very hard to improve the quality of life for the people of Gambia. Every year we are amazed at how much she's accomplished and the improvements she makes to the program to benefit the Gambians. Over the years, their lives have continually improved due to the hours Shelby volunteers to perfect the program. We never hesitate to support this non-profit as we know our money will be used in the best way possible.

Sally Z.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am more than a donor really, I have been friends with Shelby Tarutis (the director) for many years and did volunteer work with her when I was younger. Shelby began GambiaHELP all on her own because she loves the Gambian people and wants to help them. She served in Gambia in the Peace Corps. She has done an amazing job of bringing schoolbooks, medical supplies, and much much more to the Gambian people. She is devoted to her cause. Her web page tells more about her work and achievements than I can - http://www.gambiahelp.org/index.html Shelby is conscientious, hard working, strictly honest, and very caring.

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Donor

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP provides Gambian schools with schoolbooks where they had few or none before, school supplies for the students, wells for water for the villages, medical supplies, computers, solar lamps, and much more. I have known Shelby Tarutis, the director, since she began GambiaHELP. Shelby does an awesome job of raising funds and gathering supplies to ship to The Gambia, then travels to The Gambia to distribute them. She speaks Mandinka with the people there and is loved by them. It is hard to imagine what all those village schools would be like without the impact of GambiaHELP. And the lives of many have been improved through having village wells for clean water supplies.

susanmoen

Board Member

Rating: 5

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

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

jlis

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

As a donor (and former volunteer) I'm happy to support GambiaHELP! They provide an amazing level of service to women and children with tremendenous need. The funding and donations received by GambuaHELP go directly to services and projects, with less than 5% spent on administration and expenses of the organization. This small agency makes a huge impact!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The group of people that volunteer for GambiaHELP are truely inspiring. They all work so hard towards this amazing organization and put in the time to really make a difference. GambiaHELP has started with so little help and resources and really taken off over the years. I feel fortunate to be a part of this organization.

Donor

Rating: 5

Shelby Tarutis is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She started out in Gambia as a Peace Corp Volunteer, and then went back to help the people she loves once she was out of the Peace Corp. I have never seen anyone as dedicated to a cause as Shelby. She tirelessly works 12 months out of the year, fund raising in Seattle, which usually includes a big auction, and I have attended many of these at the Women's University Club...there is silent auction items to choose from, and wonderful live auction items, as well as wonder food and drink. Gambians are there looking splendiferous in their native garb and dance and play music. It is a must attend event as well as a great fund raiser . She gathers up goods of clothing, medical supplies, etc. for the gambians and ships a container to Gambia once a year. Once the container has arrive she follows and helps distribute goods around the country, and she is there about two months, sacrificing time with her family back in Seattle. She is an Angel!

Jeff42

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GambiaHELP does a great deal of good with a small amount of resources! From medicine to books to town-specific assistance guided by village elders, the projects make a big impact.

1 Angella K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shelby Tarutis, the Director of Gambia Help, already had a planned trip to Gambia when I contacted her for help. I needed to find a non-profit willing to help three children in need of an education who were Liberian refugees living in the Gambia. Shelby and her coordinator Essa Camara met with the family, a UN Volunteer, and three schools to verify and pay the children's tuitions, along with their planned work delivering books, bikes, school and medical supplies. It is amazing to me how much they accomplished in such little time! When Shelby returned from Africa, she attended my fundraising event and spoke of the family we helped. She actually gave me gift certificates to offer at the silent auction to raise money for the family in Gambia. I was completely blown away by her generosity, considering she had already done so much to help. Shelby and her volunteers are extremely hard working, compassionate and really know how to help others. This has been a life changing experience for myself and the family in need, I now plan to be a volunteer for Gambia Help because I know the great difference they make for others in need!