Annual Reports

Sajuka Community Development

Annual Report 2008

In April 2009, the Sajuka Community Development Group (SCDG) will be 25 years old. During the first few years of its existence, the management of the organisation was done by a core of devoted volunteers most of whom are either illiterate or semi illiterate. Even though the community-based volunteers have made tremendous contributions, there were a number of challenges. The volunteers (mainly women) had their daily routine activities and so had very little time to devote to the activities of the school and due to their limitations in terms of understanding the basics of managing an educational institution. The other major challenge was the lack of funds to employ highlight skilled teachers to run the nursery school and the capacity building projects.
For the past 10 years, SCDG felt the need to upgrade its human resources by training the nursery school teachers to acquire a college qualification and to employ qualified teachers to run the skills training centre. During this period, the responsibility of recruiting of teachers was left to the ministry of education. With the introduction of a primary school, the youth services project, and the resource mobilisation activities, it was felt that SCDG needed more qualified and experienced facilitators and therefore introduced a highly competitive remuneration scheme. However, times and the operating context are changing fast and becoming more complex.
In view of this, SCDG will put in place better organisational structure, monitoring, and evaluation systems to ensure greater accountability, improving performance, improving programme quality and promoting learning. Systems will be put in place to ensure realistic targeting of beneficiaries, defining objectives, expected results, and measuring impact. The new SCDG will improve policies and programmes to meet the new demands on quality education, programming and services to the beneficiaries. In the next few years, SCDG will reinforce its current nursery school, the youth protection programme, phase out from the primary school and introduced new programmes. It is expected that programmes like disaster preparedness, community health, food security and disaster risk reduction will be scaled up and/or introduced on a gradual basis.
In 2009, SCDG will be launching its 2019 Vision with a view to both consolidate its existing programmes and to scale up to reach far greater number of vulnerable children in the Gambia. In this new strategy three main projects will be launched; a community disaster resilience project which includes activities to address the risks posed by climate change, health and other hazards; a food security and livelihoods project (Fish farming, small scale food conservation and processing project); and to register as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

 

Strategic direction 1: A public well sensitized on the principles and conventions on the rights of the child.

As a tool to enlighten the public, SCDG created a group called “Kadu Haleyi. The group is composed of young children who are trained to educate to peers and parents on children’s rights. During advocacy sessions, their members amount up to 500 children with at least 100 parents who are involved in the work. The association and its grassroots groups have strengthened their advocacy especially on the door to door sensitisation for a better understanding of child rights. The events are put in forms of plays and dramatic acting. This method is commonly used due to the belief that children are more effective at making parents understand.  The association has recognized the importance of participation by children during the decision making process. They take lead in the association and assist in both planning and implementation of activities. They have also conducted evaluations on the benefits of their methods through surveying from other children and groups. 

As this year marks another landmark in the development of working children and youth, they have opted to creating a wider networking between its members and youths from Senegal through a joint celebration of “The day of the African child.” This is hosted by SCDG and security forces, winning partners and members of the communities took a part in to promote the theme of “child participation.” Press conferences including both Senegalese and Gambian were organized for effective promotion.

Beach sensitisation was also utilized by the group to sensitise the general public and youths who spend the majority of their time at the beaches. Such event includes the drama group performing simple techniques on First Aids, HIV/AIDS, and Teenage Pregnancy to address the youths. As Barra is a crossing point for both international and national visitors, the group finds it their responsibility to conduct sensitisation at the ferry terminal on child rights, child pornography and issues affecting children especially those selling late nights at these terminals.

The association has conducted a series of meetings with the police on child right issues. To gain the ability to share information and form a correct reporting process, they have built good relationships with the Child Welfare Unit located at the Barra Police Station.

Working Children (Barra/Banjul river boat transportation services--youths carrying boat passengers on their shoulders, Talibehs, and children awaiting visiting tourists) are sensitised.

The danger and abuse to children in the boat transporting services have been reduced due to the awareness raising on possible dangers of carrying heavy loads as a child. Sensitisations were performed focusing on children who are staying late at ferry terminals selling goods. The importance of security and avoidance of abuse and violence on girls were greatly emphasized during the sensitisations. Children are also informed and warned about the risks of inductive substances, diseases such as HIV/aids and sex tourism which are mostly brought over by visitors.

With the support of the Save the Children Sweden and in close collaboration with the Child protection alliance, the department of social welfare services and local authorities in Barra and other target villages, SCDG carried out surveys in mid 2008 with a view developing a comprehensive strategy to address the problems of drug use and abuses, child labour and the problems affecting the Talibehs in the vicinity of Barra. The surveys were conducted on the violence inflicted upon children and it focused on three different topics: child labour, drug abuse and Talibeh (children attending Koranic schools begging on the streets for money).  The full report is available for further reading
The survey revealed that under the influence of drug abuse, the youth folk of a society do not only lose focus, but also become extremely prone to all sorts of dangers that only put the entire country under constant threat. Even the health dangers drug abuse poses for the user costs not only they, but also their family members, their loved ones, and the nation at large. There is a direct linkage between drugs, crimes and violence in schools as well as those between drugs and diseases. For the solution to the problem of drug abuse and use, the children surveyed recommended possible programs such as holding sensitization program by talking to the youths on effects drugs and to encourage them to stop, education (through workshops and community seminars) to help the community learn more about the side effects of drug abuse. Others recommended that the government should interact and help in the process. They can assist in reducing the supply. The survey findings revealed that the most effective way for intervention is provide psychosocial support as the children know what they want but have no way of getting there. Another way is to target the parents and offer them options that could help the future of their children.
With regards to the child labour problem and how it can be addressed, the majority of the respondents suggested sensitization through the community about the effects of child labour and available resources. And when asked what type of outside help they needed to stay in school, 100 percent replied to financial help. About 80 percent know where to go for support while the remainder mentioned social welfare. The major factors pushing children onto the streets are therefore primarily poverty and domestic violence.
There is an apparent lack of organizations that specifically address the plight of street children; vulnerability of children to abuse and other vices (drug abuse starts as early as age 13); deep-rooted cultural and religious beliefs, abject poverty. The situation is being exacerbated by the serious ignorance on the national legal instruments and international conventions requiring the education and protection of the child by the family and the community.  Institutions, even though aware, lack the necessary tools and IEC materials to disseminate the rights of the child, ensure that the child is well protected both in and outside the school system.  For example, both Essau and Berending high schools are quite willing to embark upon dissemination activities but do lack the support to do so.

Child prostitution and pregnancy

As the relationship with the police continues to be strengthened, there have been efforts to help reduce child prostitution.  

 

Strategic direction 2: Reducing the number of children, youths and vulnerable groups affected by or dying from HIV/AIDS

 

Sajuka Youth Drama group

At a global point of view women and children are mostly affected by this ongoing pandemic. The SCDG has taken the responsibility to especially prepare its members. The drama group and the children of Sajuka have chosen to embark on beach sensitization during the summer holidays addressing HIV/aids, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse. During this time of the year, many youths idle around the beaches and also organize activities such as beach parties. So the group has taken this opportunity to address the people at such locations through hosting Ebbeh day with drama, music and raffles. One example is a sensitization on violence on children which was conducted and people responded which high levels of participation through providing more ideas on how to safe guard children. The ideas were innovative and parents understood the rights of children very well and vowed to take part in events creating long lasting relationships.

Our strong relationship with the TB unit at Essau Health Centre has helped us conduct sensitisation in communities to raise awareness on TB. It has also helped SCDG convince 20 to taking test of which 13 were found positive. With this, SCDG has continued to maintain good relationships by continuing to help with the dissemination of TB and the acceptance of people living with it. Massive sensitisations were conducted in communities in Barra, Essau, Mayamba and Njongon respectively.

The drama group has performed well with regards to the sensitisation on TB and has created a strong linkage between the institution and health facilities located in Essau, NGO’s and several government bodies.

Our commitments with the Health Centres also extends to sensitizations on reinforcing the importance of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to attend the monthly clinics. They also try to raise awareness on issues that affect children and youths on their development such as drugs, alcohols, sniffing of glue, child abuse and corporal punishment in schools. These activities tend to strengthen in homes to help reduce the effects of child abuse in homes and places of work.

The help maximize effects, training on drama techniques and presentation is done for the Sajuka children by our collaborators; Nova Scotia Gambia.

Anti Aids Clubs (Peer Education)

Members of the voice of the young, “kadu Haleyi” has conducted mass sensitisations within the community of Barra for children selling late at the ferry terminal. They have also embarked on the promotion of the importance of children being enrolled in school, which happens to be very innovative. Children educating children is a fruitful concept for advancement.

Members of SCDG participated in organized by the Red Cross in the North Bank region and National Youth Parliament to promote the importance of information sharing during the summer.

Parent child conversation on children’s rights with assistance from the animators and sensitization committee has set forth nightly staff meeting to focus on methods of child education and teaching children good behaviours in classrooms and identifying teacher’s attitude toward the children. Management meeting is held on the last Monday of the month, with the agenda of gaining participation from parents and children, SCDG, grassroots groups. The purpose is to hold rotational meetings which help members discuss issues, form friendships and parents are given the opportunity to participate in activities of the association.
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Conduct cleaning excises at the Essau Health Centre and adoption of a ward.

Katchaa (chatting) Centres
Members have a chatting centre in the school which Sajuka kids utilize to conduct training on Children rights and also learn how to use computers to assist SCDG in data management. At grassroots level, the chatting centre is primarily used as a meeting venue

Strategic direction 3: Improving capacities income generating, Co-operation and networking with child protection agencies.

Sajuka will continue supporting the women and youth groups in their vegetable gardening, bee keeping and other activities that will promote greater food availability, access and utilization. Such details are well noted in the new project.

In collaboration with the Professional Beekeepers Association, training was conducted to reinforce the beekeeping procedures and learn new methods of producing products. The session encouraged a more income generated approach and suggested the possible products that can be produced by SCDG. Such products include bee wax cream which has become a popular in the bee keeping industries. Also efforts are underway to learn methods of how to convert honey into sweets and the medical benefits of bee keeping remedies which are said to cure many diseases.

With support from the African Movement of Working Children and Youths, the National Youth Council gathered over 100 people for a ten day training session on child participation. SCDG attended the training to learn the logistics of involving children in issues affecting them. The methods of children in decision making, implementing and participating to help better themselves and become leaders where highly emphasized. Such interest and beneficial training has led to the creation of another grassroots in Farafenni.

As part of improving the skills and the capacity of the members, 100 girls were trained on food processing and learned how to make cashew jam, mango jam, hot pepper sauce and etc. This skill has helped the girls spread their capacities to earn better living and survival. They have also allocated time to expand their skills by teaching other women in communities to help promote a more sustainable environment. They are now being used by in local communities such as “Kompins” (groups) which are fully facilitated by women.

Two members of the SCDG were sent on a two week technical mission at Canchungo in Guinea Bissau to address the issue of child participation. The technical mission team comprises of associations from countries commonly known as zone four, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau. We also host the celebration of day of the African child in collaboration with two associations of the working children and youth from Senegal (Fatick and Kaolack respectively) and focus on the theme of child participation.

The SCDG has strong relationships with the Nova Scotia Gambia Association and the national blood donor associations, many of our members are now regular donors and strong advocates in sensitizations for blood donation. They also participate in conducting cleaning excises at the Essau health, adoption of a ward and sales of second hand clothing already donated by the Swedish visitors. Donations of materials to hospitals, schools and communities are other activities conducted as well.

With support from the Animators, the Social worker visits the homes of Sajuka students, and street working children. This helps her to familiarize herself with the parents and come up with strategies on how to assist. Her appearance has also encouraged peers to discuss their problems and together come up with solutions.

Wellingera and Sanchimutel gardens

The Food security and livelihoods project goal is to ensure that “hhousehold Food production has improved the lives and living conditions of women, their children and families have improved”  Sajuka will continue to support the women and youth groups in their vegetable gardening, bee keeping and other activities that will help promote greater food availability, access and utilization.

Aquaculture

SCDG has intensified its fishing skills development programme while at the same time exploring ventures such as fish farming, crab farming and other activities in aquaculture in 2009. It should be noted that the Gambian fishing industry, a potential contributor to household food security is still constrained by factors such as: the lack of adequate infrastructure with appropriate fish handling and storage facilities for the artisanal sub-sector, the fisheries sector remains dominated by foreign nationals, unavailability of sufficient qualified tradesmen, and the complete absence of basic training programmes for artisanal fishing communities on issues relating to preservation, quality, sanitation and proper manufacturing practices.

SCDG will align its strategies to the Government’s strategic Priorities. These will include inter alia: an increase the participation of the populations of Barra and Essau in artisanal fisheries through training and provision of fishing gears and to improve fishing techniques; promoting aquaculture by assisting in the establishment of fish and crab ponds along the Barra Bolong (river) and at other suitable sites (while ensuring that such activities do not pose any threat to the environment), organising a comprehensive training programme for selected communities covering areas in financial management, marketing, numeracy and literacy, fish technology and quality control, sanitation and environment and other related issues.

      CHILD EDUCATION SERVICES

Nursery School

The nursery school has increased enrolment from 40% to 55% in this academic year. During the last quarter of 2008 we have acquired funds to build new classrooms. Constructions for the lower basic school have started and the project is sponsored by Lions Club of Vaxholm. Our main sponsors are from Denmark, Sweden, private sources and the Gambia

Staff meetings have been held during which it was decided that teachers should prepare their lesson plans ahead and submit them to the Education Manager for review prior to the beginning of classes. Then schedules will be set and examined on a weekly basis while class notes of activities are submitted daily. An observation committee has been set up to create schedules that allow them to visit classrooms and evaluate teachers once a week. Training workshops were conducted on ways to help enhance classroom and professionally interact the children.

Children are given monthly tests at the end of each month in preparation for the end of year exams which takes place in June. Children are visited in their homes as stated in order school. Day care pupil were screened from stage one and they now occupy their own classrooms. These rooms are furnished with furniture and playing materials to enhance a good learning environment for the children. The nursery school has four teachers who have attended early childhood development (ECD) teachers training. The training helped the teacher acquire new teaching methods and assist them in becoming better teachers.

 

Sajuka Lower Basic School (Primary School)

The lower Basic school has started a community Library to help improve the reading skills. Currently, the lower Basic encompasses four classes with a student roll of 114 students with three teachers. Another teacher is now being recruited to replace the one who left

Staff meetings have been held during which decisions have been taken to for teachers should prepare their lesson plans ahead and submit them to the Education Manager for review prior to the beginning of classes. Then schedules will be set and examined on a weekly basis while class notes of activities are submitted daily. An observation committee has been set up to create schedules that allow them to visit classrooms and evaluate teachers once a week. Training workshops were conducted on ways to help enhance classroom and professionally interact the children. Children are also given monthly tests at the end of each month in preparation for the end of year exams which takes place in June.

 Children are usually visited at their homes if they have become sick or are frequently being absent from school. These visits are conducted by the sponsorship committee, teachers or the Education Manager. All the visits are reported to the secretary and recorded on the house visit books. After teaching personal and general cleanliness, children are provided with water and soap to practice their hand washing skill after using the toilet. Teachers also provide etiquette lessons and encourage them to help families maintain clean households. Surprise visits are conducted by the teachers to see if students are putting learning into practice in their home environments. These visits are recorded by the secretary as well.

Health personnel from the health centre were invited to give presentations on malaria and diarrhoea.  He was highly impressed by the children’s participation and neatness of their outlook. He commended the teachers for their hard work towards the children’s education and the general neatness of the school. They also inspected the eyes of the children who had an infection. These children who are suffering from eye problems have difficulty learning. Those who were found to be infected were given eye ointments to apply to eyes daily. He was highly thanked for his educative advice. In another class, they performed an experiment on the germination of beans. The process was held in different stages of the process. The children were then divided and assigned to each stage to observe the growth.

The National Assessment Tests (NAT) is held throughout the country for children in grades 3 and 5. Sajuka does not have fifth grade so only children in the third grade were sent. Results came back with great scores from the 3rd grade students.

Parents and other personnel were invited to the speech and prize giving ceremony held at the school. Instead of teacher’s participation as chairperson, guest speaker and so on, three children were selected from the primary school as a trial. They hosted the show and performed extremely well. The parents were pleased and surprised to see their children participate so well. Students who performed well on their final exams were offered presents. As they were called upon to receive the prize, their parents were called upon to accompany them. These end of the year reports are sent to both parents and sponsors.

The children’s uniform of the primary school had been changed from dyed cloth to a blue cloth from ASHOBI SHOP in Banjul. The sponsorship committee is responsible for the buying and reselling of the uniforms. We attended a workshop on jolly phonics at Essau primary school organised by our cluster monitor. It’s a new method of teaching introduced to all primary school teachers throughout the country. So it was highly important that Sajuka take part in the training of these new methods. It was a four week, free of charge and taught by experienced colleagues. Since teacher training methods are never ending, Sajuka held one as a school based workshop.

Sajuka children participated in the Nation Primary School athletics observed during Independence Day. We participated at the first stage but didn’t make it through the second stage selection process. We were commended by the sports committee because the children were very small when compared to other schools. They participated very well in the intramural sports.

At the time of writing, the Vaxholm team, sponsors of the nursery and lower Basic school came to attend the grand opening of the lower basic school. This particular activity is one of the most successful events in the school calendar as it also coincides with the opening of the school library sponsored by Bay Path College in USA. During the opening ceremony, important guest such as the permanent secretary for youth, sports and culture, chief of Barra attended. During speeches, sponsors assured us of their full support to work with Sajuka Community Development Group due to progress made. Sajuka Management also assured them they shall put all resources in good use for the betterment of our community. One of their biggest experiences includes travelling by boat to Barra and spending a night at the school which they sponsored.

Skills Training and Production Centre

The Skills Centre continues all the lessons being taught to them such as Tie/dye, Tailoring, Handicraft, Art/craft, Soap and Omo making, Mathematic, English, Small Scale Business and Carpentry. The centre conducts normal lessons with the students and tries to find ways of producing income for the school. All generated funds are always handed over to the Accountant for safe deposits in school accounts. One example is the tailoring teacher who teaches students how to generate income from selling tailored products. They create items such as water bottle bags, shirt, embroiled shirts, dress and etc. As for the tie dye and handicraft teacher, she dyes clothes with student and prepares different types handicraft on food processing such as pepper, tomatoes, Mangoes, and cashews. These are produced during its season and helps students become more resourceful and make best use of the fruits and vegetable. Students were also trained on soap and soap powder making. Training on bee products has also helped in providing students with more courage and building confidence within them. The skill centre unit is the primary maker of the school uniforms made from the process of tie dye. They use available materials to make such products for the benefit of the school. They have produced income to form selling materials made to tourists and community members at the end of the year.

The carpentry section does not function well due to the lack of students willing to take part in this academic year.

The sewing, Art and Craft Section department focuses on recycling materials to use in making arts and crafts. They also produce man made materials on handicraft.

After the last harvesting in January, reports on infected hives were found at the location Barra Two Inquiries and requests have been made on how to help solve the problem occurring on the hives. Seeking for a resource person to train members was not in the institution’s objective but we are currently seeking a qualified expert to work with our members. Currently information if displayed to seek an individual who meets the criteria but nothing has come up. Although the beekeepers are producing honey, their only constrain is how to market and sell the honey. Currently, there is a twenty-one litre jug of honey that needs to be sold. Marketing of the products to the public is the primary concern. One of the major constraints with the beekeeping is the lack or regular visits.

The school have welcomed two groups from Norrtälje and Vaxholm respectively. The group from Norrtälje is composed of 30 members and they have spent two weeks with the students at the school. They also loaded a forty foot container which is composed if used materials ranging from woods, clothes, generator, projectors, stationeries and etc. They celebrated the Muslims Tobaski feast with us and that became a great experience of culture for them. They also visited other places such as the historical site at James Island.

Creating a wider audience through Radio, television and internet

Efforts are underway to join with the Child Protection Alliance’s (CPA) voice of the young radio programs. Efforts are also coming from house to house sensitization on the CRC in education for all by the social worker and his team.

The new web site for Sajuka is gaining a lot of popularity in the immediate circle of partners but also with others in Switzerland, UK, Sweden and the USA. In 2009, SCDG will upload new articles, more videos and articles and will host information from our partners such as Save the Children and others.

SCDG has recently set up a library and this is enabling the children in and out of Sajuka School to widen their knowledge.

The Danish community Development Group has again donated a number of equipment, furniture, stationery and other training materials to the skills centre and some useful materials to the health centre in Essau and other hospitals in the Gambia

The computer section is also being developed. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies office in Geneva donated 10 second hand desk top computers and other equipment to SCDG for use to improve student learning and communications

 

SCDG participated in the African commission on the working children and youths. Two of our members have participated in a two week technical mission organized at Bissau in which Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea Bissau took part. There were frequent visit to students and children with learning difficulties are currently being conducted.

The institution has developed a good working relationship with the centre for children and has made series of visit to collect data and information on child trafficking, children with family troubles and the abandoned child.

Sajuka continues to maintain regular contact with the Government of the Gambia, Save the Children Sweden regional office in Dakar, centre for street children at Bakoteh, working children and youth association in Senegal,  ENDA Senegal, Movement for Working Children and Youth, Rodengymnasiet Norrtälje, Vaxholm Community in Sweden,  Friends of Sajuka in the United Kingdom, , Roseindustrins barnfond, Sponsors of the nursery , primary and skills centre, Terra Nordica and Volunteers (Local and abroad), the Gronberg family in Waxholm, Miss Gambia beauty pageant (USA), The Path Bay University (USA), NGO Affairs Agency and Private individuals and other organisations, Gambia Children Foundation Holland, Danish Community Development Association Denmark, , our partners in Freetown, CCYA, IRAN, YAPAD, CAR, Sierra Leone Red Cross , friends of Sajuka in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Other institutions that continued to collaborate with Sajuka included The Gambia Red Cross, centre for street children at Bakoteh, Gamcotrap, Jali experience, Child Protection Alliance, Essau health centre, Social Welfare, State Department for Education, Non Formal Education, Concern Universal, and National Beekeepers Association, Fire Service, Police station Barra, Boka Loho Skills Centre, President Award Scheme, Scouts, and National Training Authority.

 

 

Acknowledgment

SCGD wishes to register its sincere gratitude to all sponsors for their immense and worthwhile contributions to support the activities in the Nursery, primary and skills training centre.

We thank the Government of the Gambia, centre for street children at Bakoteh, working children and youth association in Senegal,  ENDA Senegal, Movement for Working Children and Youth, Rodengymnasiet Norrtälje, Vaxholm Community in Sweden,  Friends of Sajuka in the United Kingdom, Roseindustrins barnfond, Sponsors of the nursery , primary and skills centre, Terra Nordica and Volunteers (Local and abroad), the Gronberg family in Waxholm, Mattson family in Tulka, Miss Gambia beauty pageant (USA), The Path Bay University (USA), NGO Affairs Agency and Private individuals and other organisations, Gambia Children Foundation Holland, The President Kylle Jensen and the Danish Community Development Association Denmark, , our partners in Freetown, CCYA, IRAN, YAPAD, CAR, Sierra Leone Red Cross and the friends of Sajuka in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The contributions of Save the Children Sweden and in particular its staff in the Save the Children Sweden Regional office in Dakar have enabled hundreds of children and especially young girls to improve their lives. Today a number of them do not only have solid livelihoods to help their families; they are contributing positively to the prosperity of the Gambia.  These contributions, both in financial and technical terms, have enabled a better understanding of the rights of the child and a more positive attitude towards their children and the wider community at large.  We look forward to a continued and more fruitful collaboration with Save the Children in particular and all the actors whose noble aim is to put the child first.

Without the collaboration with sister and other organisations, SCDG would have found it extremely difficult to achieve its objectives for 2008. We thank The Gambia Red Cross Society, Gamcotrap, Jali experience, Child Protection Alliance, Essau health centre, Social Welfare, State Department for Education, Non Formal Education, Concern Universal, and National Beekeepers Association, Fire Service, Police station Barra, Boka Loho Skills Centre, President Award Scheme, Scouts, and National Training Authority.

Momodou Lamin Fye
Director, Sajuka Community Development Group (2009)

 

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