An idea is born: Help for self-help in Gambia

In March 1997 the nursery school teacher Monika Thomsen went on a trip to The Gambia. She enjoyed the sun,walking along the beaches and relaxing  but she also was interested in the way of life of the Gambian people outside the holiday resort.

So she came to the a bit remote village  Kerr Serign where she visited a nursery school,called “Morgan and Willy”, which was built and completely furnished by Dutch people. The headmaster Isatou  Konateh and her two colleagues teach about 70 children at the age of three  to six years.

Isatou and Monika Thomsen became friends. Until 1999 Monika visited this African country three times, got to know new friends and learned about the problems and conditions of the people there. She realised that they were in need of urgent help, especially in the hinterland.

However, “Help for self-help”!

Many people, who visited The Gambia, want to help this country. The most sensible kind of help is help for self-help. Through the building up of more schools the Gambian government can be supported to realise their aim to make school compulsory for all children. Getting education offers an important opportunity and a good chance to the young people to realise their situation and their possibilities and to overcome old patterns of thinking. In future they should be able to take part in all economic and political affairs.

But they can’t do that alone. That’s what Monika Thomsen realised. Since her first stay in The Gambia  she has fought for this small African country and especially for its children at home.

First she was surprised but then she enjoyed more and more the huge response her appeal for solidarity  had in Bützow. Many people donated money, supported activities to raise money or even went to The Gambia for getting more information. So a group of very engaged people founded an interest group.

From an Interest Group to a Non-for-profit Society

The Interest Group was founded in Bützow in January, 16th 1999. First it was connected with the German Women Association to be allowed to take donations and to be entitled to give written records about donations.

One year later the Interest Group became a society. Monika Thomsen was elected chairwoman, Erik Schönborn deputy chairperson, Hella Gutzmer became treasurer and Kerstin Mauersberger became secretary.

The members of the Non-for- profit Society were:
Monika Thomsen, Hella Gutzmer, Kerstin Mauersberger, Katharina Bonny, Andreas Beck, Wolfgang Wehrmann, Margitta Looß, Heike Kasboom, Dietmar Bonny, Regina Nürnberg und Erik Schönborn.

Read further about our work and projects in Gambia from 1999 to 2012.