News happenings around Shelter Gambia


At the moment there are 2 women in Shelter Gambia. On the 25th of October an experienced tailor started giving them sewing lessons all day three days a week.

When the women go home Shelter Gambia will give them a sewing machine to take along. That will not only improve their self-esteem but also give them the chance of a good life. The NGO "Dresden – Banjul Organisation" (see Link) helped to start this project with the sponsorship of 5 sewing machines.







In April I went to Brufut to visit some VVF women in their houses. (View pictures)


In March I went to Gunjur, Kartung and Brikama to talk to the medical people in charge.

Trip to Bwiam

In November I travelled to Bwiam to talk to Mr. Kebba Badjie, Chief Executive Officier, and his team.  (View pictures) Again we agreed that because VVF being such a stigmatized theme in The Gambia sensitisation is so very important in order to encourage the affected women  to come out and seek help. We also agreed that these women can´t be expected to come to Banjul for surgery in public transportation because of them being  incontinent. So I need to pick them up in their villages and organize for them to stay in Shelter Gambial while they are being examined and tests are being done until they can have surgery.

Trip to Farafenni

I travelled further in-land to the Farafenni general hospital. (View pictures) Upon arrival I met the hospital management team, headed by the Regional Public Health Nurse, Mr. Ivan Coker together with  the Regional Public Health Officer, the Regional Health Promotion Officer,  and the Regional Nutrition Officer.
Our discussion was centered on what Shelter Gambia intends to do for women suffering from VVF and also about ways to prevent it through sensitization  and educating the men and women in the villages.  Mr. Coker, said that they were very happy to receive us, are very willing to cooperate, and that the doors of his office will always be open for me.

Visit with the Governor
In October I also went to see Mr. Alh Eduwar Seckan, the Governor of the North Bank Region. (View picture) His warm welcome and eagerness to support Shelter and it´s aims was very encouraging.

Trip to Essau Health Centre

I have started my visit in the Essau Health Centre, where I have met the health centre management team headed by Mr. Sutaring Drammeh, a senior midwife nurse in the the  centre.
I have made an appointment  prior to the visit with the support of the focal person Jumma Jallow. The Community Health Nurses (CHN) in that area who are answerable to the said centre were all informed that I was coming there and their presence is very important. I need to meet them and discussed about VVF in The Gambia and the package Shelter Gambia has for these patients. One of my main targets is to see the Traditional Birth Attendance (TBA). These are local birth attendance in the rural communities who normally help pregnant women to deliver without reaching the health centre / hospital. This is done traditionally and the knowledge is passed on from one generation to the next. These TBAs are supervised by CHNs in their respective communities.
I believe that it is necessary to communicate and engage these TBA´s in order to establish a strong working relationship in my sensitization program. This move will help Shelter Gambia in reaching the girls and women who are suffering from VVF at the grass-root level.
The senior midwife and his team were very receptive and happy about the ideas of Shelter Gambia, particularly the two and a half  months rehabilitation package.
I have also pointed out that one of the preventive programs is proper community sensitization, which is to educate the TBAs and the community at large about the causes of VVF, it´s consequences, and how to prevent it. This will no doubt also help in getting hidden cases in these communities we are sensitizing. We all agree that curing VVF is important but prevention is the best. Since VVF is very hidden because of stigmatization, the need for proper community sensitization is paramount.

Newpaper article from 16th of June, 2009 in “Daily Observer”
(download the hard copy of publication)

Shelter Gambia launched

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Ramou Cole-Ceesay, deputising for the minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Mariatou Jallow, last Thursday launched 'Shelter Gambia', at a colourful ceremony held at the Social Welfare Home for Elderly People in Bakoteh.

Shelter Gambia is a non-profit, faith-based charity organisation with the goal of taking care of women who have had a successful Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) surgery after being released from hospital. The idea is to get them good réhabilitation. VVF occurs when a women has a prolonged labour without médical help, leaving them incontinent. Such women can have surgery and, in most cases damages can be corrected to such an extent that they can have the chance of getting prégnant again.

In her launching statement, Ramou Cole-Ceesay disclosed that in developing countries including The Gambia, complications in pregnancy and child birth processes remain the leading cause of death among women of child bearing age and girls. She noted that global statistics from the WHO reveal that every minute, around the world, one prégnant woman dies in the procèss while 20 to 30 other prégnant women suffer long term or permanent injuries or disability "from the procèss of trying to give life."

According to her, the importance attached to the health and well-being of women and girls by the Gambia Government is clearly explained by the déclaration of free-of-charge maternal and newborn health services for Gambian women, among other efforts, pointing to the allocation of the Shelter Gambia Home within the complex of the Department of Social Welfare by government as another strong indication. "This Shelter, under the abled leadership of our dynamic German nurse, Ms Orla Klippe (founder), in close partnership with the Department of Social Welfare in particular, will avail women a two  months post opérative and rehabilitative care to fistula patients. The feeding of these patients and payment of skills, facilities and support staff will be borne by Madam Klippe¨ she stated.

For her part, Ms Orla Klippe revealed that she got in contact with affected women in West Africa through a Christian médical assignement. According to her, their situation had touched her so deeply that she didn’t want to watch inactively while young girls and women do not get any help and have to lead undignified lives due to the lack of finances and worldly systems. "That is why I have been hère in The Gambia for more than two years now, and I have established contacts in order to assist thèse women back into normal life,’’ she said.

With Shelter Gambia and in coopération with The Gambia Government, she said, they want to establish a facility in which thèse women can stay for about two months after being discharged from the hospitals if needed with their children, during which time they will have the chance of recuperating.
Author: by Mariatou Ngum-Saidy

On June 11th 2009 was the official Opening Ceremony for Shelter Gambia. (View pictures) The guest speaker were the Director of Social Welfare, Mrs. Fanta  Bia Secka, deputising for the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Mrs. Ramou Cole-Ceesay, and  me (Orla Klippe) the founder of Shelter Gambia. A group of women were entertaining the guests with dances and singing. The local newspaper wrote an article about it and the national TV Station GRTS brought a report in the evening news.

Today, on the 6th of June 5 women are in Shelter Gambia  from age 16 to age 50. One of the women had VVF for 20 years and her story is devastating. Also the 16 year old girl came with the saddest eyes. But it is a joy to see how things have changed after not even two weeks. There is new hope in their eyes and a big smile in their faces. We spend time together and build a relationship.

On 4th  of June  the first three women will be discharged from the RVTH Hospital in Banjul after a  successful surgery. I will bring them to Shelter Gambia in Bakoteh.

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