25 August 2014


AFNOW coordinator clarifies Amir Khan's comments on Gunjur orphans

Buba Janneh, the coordinator of Abubakarr Siddique Foundation for Needy and Orphan Welfare (Afnow ), has expressed “shock” at the misrepresentation of the plight of orphans in Gunjur by Amir Khan Foundation. He explained: “It is shocking for me to hear that the orphans of Gunjur have been portrayed in such a filthy, ugly and nasty way.  I have never seen Gunjur orphans in such a situation. Gunjur as a community is so organised and resourceful that we formed an association that seeks to protect and promote the dignity and welfare of the dead called Gunjur Welfare Association. This association has committed itself to providing assistance to poor families when their members are admitted at RVTH and they provide transportations for the deceased from RVTH to Gunjur without asking for anything from the bereaved families. The organisation sometimes finances the funeral rites of some financially challenged families. If such generosity obtains in this community, do you think people will go to bed without food for a day much more dying of hunger?  Because of the magnanimity of the people of the community of Gunjur, an organisation was formed in 2003 specifically to support orphans.  Abubakarr Siddique Foundation for Needy and Orphan Welfare (AFNOW) is a registered charity with registration number 753/2006, with its headquarters in Gunjur. AFNOW is a democratic, apolitical, non-partisan and non-profit making body. It is a community based organisation (CBO) charged with the responsibility of looking after the welfare of the orphans, needy and widows. AFNOW primarily focuses on providing education, food, clothing, skills trainings and micro-finance credit for the orphans, needy and widows”.   Mr Janneh added: “AFNOW from its inception has been tirelessly supporting these vulnerable children and today many students completed their schooling with some going to the college and some are even employed thanks to our support. And this organisation is financecd 100% by the natives of Gunjur both in The Gambia and in the diaspora. The people of Gunjur do not need any orphanage because we want our orphans to be with their grandmothers and aunties so as to learn the rich culture and tradition of their heritage and not to be indoctrinated by any foreign ideologies. And we want these children to realise that they are supported by their own brothers, uncles, aunties and grandmothers so that in return they can also give back the same support from which they have benefited in the future.  Amir Khan who was trying to rob the community of Gunjur must have used somebody from Gunjur. He was given a wrong picture and statistics of orphans in Gunjur.  We are not trying to stop people from assisting the orphans in Gunjur but it should be done in a clear and transparent manner.  It should be done through families, parents and guardians of orphans without shifting their responsibilities to others, especially people they don’t know but only met because they want help. I will be very much ungrateful if I don’t thank Dr. Nick for manifesting his love and care for the community of Gunjur and in this case for the orphans. He deserves to be commended for the wonderful job he has done for this community and The Gambia as a whole for over thirty years”.

Visit to West Horsley's WI

Earlier this month, Rachel, Ellie and I were invited to give a talk to the lovely ladies at West Horsley WI, to give them an insight into Gambian life and explain all about our April PAGEANT trip. We spoke at length about all our mornings spent in schools, our trip up country and all the other Gambian adventures we experienced! We managed to sell lots of Gambian artefacts and raise enough money to sponsor Mama, a 13 year old girl, for two years. Mama has been unable to attend school recently as her parents haven't had the funding, however now she will be given the chance to catch up with her peers which is fantastic! Huge thanks go to all the ladies at the WI for having us and to Sue for arranging the evening, we hope to see you again soon!

Frances x

21 August 2014



The chairman of Marlborough Brandt Group and founder of Gunjur-Marlborough link, Dr Nick Maurice has expressed his outrage at the negative media portrayal of Gunjur and The Gambia in the British media by Amir Khan Foundation. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard, he countered: “The recent publicity in the UK and elsewhere given to the newly-formed Amir Khan Foundation should not go unchallenged. In a press report in the UK we read: 'Bolton-born Khan said: "Gunjur is an extremely deprived area in The Gambia where I'm determined to change things by building an orphanage, so children can have a safe place to sleep and be educated. The kids starve to death here and it hurts so much to see this happening. The orphanage will cost about £200,000 to build and will look after more than 150 children". In his reaction, Dr Maurice said: “One can only assume that Amir Khan never went to Gunjur where we have been working for the past 30 years and that he was using this disgraceful language to yet again portray Africa as a basket case of poverty and disease in order to raise money. I have never seen a child in Gunjur 'starve to death' and I am aware that the few orphans that there are in Gunjur are well looked after in their extended families and supported by AFNOW and the Gunjur Widows and Orphans Association. The Gunjur I know is a community of extreme social wealth, where people genuinely care for and about each other, including their children and the elderly - greater than that which you find in many communities in UK. Certainly Gunjur is not without some material problems (considerably reduced since the recent arrival of electricity and piped clean water), which our partner NGO Tarud is addressing with support from us. He added: “We must not allow Africa, The Gambia and Gunjur to be described in this way by people who drop in and make no proper analysis of the extraordinary hospitality, generosity and resourcefulness of people in that rich continent. I was in Gunjur at the same time that they were in The Gambia this time with the 18th group of young people from Marlborough to live with families in Gunjur and "get their hands dirty" on a construction project, since 1985, this time building a fence around a 12 acre vegetable garden for women, working alongside Gambian volunteers. This is just an excuse for them to have a life changing experience and return to UK as true global citizens, having met with kindness and hospitality which is second to none while at the same time making a small contribution to development in Gunjur. The Gunjur described by the Amir Khan Foundation in the report bears absolutely no resemblance to the Gunjur that we know and love. If there are orphans in that community, and there are some that we know, they are immediately absorbed into their extended families. I have never seen or heard of any children "starving to death", it simply doesn't happen and I am not aware of that happening in other parts of The Gambia although there are concerns at the moment about the very poor rainfall (and we are halfway through the rainy season) and the impact that that will have on the rice harvest. Talking to the many Gambian friends that I have both in The Gambia and here in the UK, they get very angry, as do many other Africans, at the way that Africa is constantly portrayed as a basket case of poverty, disease, corruption and conflict while the reality is that there is a social wealth and resourcefulness, which is second to none. I think one has to be very careful about the messages that one puts out”.


Modou Lamin Jarjue, the chief of Foni Kansala Monday told the Brikama Magistrates Court presided over by Sierrending Sanneh that Caliph Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray were informed not to pray Eid-ul-Fitr on Tuesday 29 July 2014 as ordered by President Jammeh. The caliph of Darsilami Sagnajor, Muhideen Hydara and Alkalo Buyeh Touray are arraigned on two counts of conspiracy to commit misdemeanour and disobedience of lawful order. At the resumption of the case yesterday, the prosecution dropped the second count. Chief Jarjue told the court: “I recognise the accused persons from Darsilami. The chief of Bondali Dembo Badjie called me and told me that he got information from the governor who told him that any village that did not pray on Monday should not pray on Tuesday. I went to the radio station in Bwiam to inform people that any village that did not pray on Monday should not pray on Tuesday. I also called my badge messenger Seedy Gibba from Jilamba to go to Darsilami and inform them. He told me he informed them but they said Foni was not part of it. Then I told him to go there first thing in the morning and inform the alkalo properly that the president said from Kartong to Kalagi, no village should pray on Tuesday. He told me they said they will pray despite the order and I asked him to stay there to be an eyewitness lest he gave me information based on hearsay. He called and said they prayed then I called the governor and said to her, 'I told my people not to pray but they prayed'. Then she said, 'you have done your job'.” Cross-examining, defence counsel Lamin Mboge asked Chief Lamin Jarjue whether the caliph was a descendant of the prophet to which he answered in the positive. Put to him that his badge messenger told him that he did not tell the first accused the message he (the chief) received from the governor, the witness retorted: “He said he extended the message to the alkalo and the alkalo forwarded it to another person whom I do not know”. Also weighing in on the issue, senior defence counsel Antouman Gaye made an application challenging the court's original jurisdiction over the matter saying: “I would like the court to refer the case to the Supreme court of The Gambia for the court's interpretation of the following questions under the constitution: 1. Whether or not by the laws which are the contemplation of section 7 of the 1997 constitution the offence charged in count two (not withstanding its incompetence as a charge) is inconsistent with and contrary to section 251C of the constitution and therefore null and void? If the answer to this is affirmative then whether count one is maintainable against the accused person. The application is made under section 127 of the constitution. I believe the matter lies on our side”. In his riposte, the prosecutor Chief Inspector Touray said the application of the defence lacks merit and should be thrown out because similar cases have been dealt with by the court in the past. At that point, Magistrate Sierrending Sanneh adjourned the case to September 1st by midday for judgment on the application.

06 August 2014


British ambassador visits Gunjur Marlborough link projects

The British ambassador to The Gambia, Colin Crorkin today visited Gunjur to acquaint himself with the projects of Gunjur Marlborough link and its impact on the community and declared that President Jammeh has signaled his desire for an end to the state of impoverished harmony that has blighted London-Banjul ties in the past few years.. Speaking at a meeting with Gunjur Community Link leaders, he said: “I had a very comprehensive briefing in the UK by a day’s trip to Marlborugh to learn about what Marlborough Brandt Group is doing and the impact of its work here in Gunjur.  I am delighted that I can finally come to visit you.  According to the protocol there are limits to what a newly arrived ambassador can do until you presented your credentials to the president and I was fortunate enough to do that a few weeks ago.  I would just tell you a little bit about what His Excellency the president said in a meeting that lasted about two hours which is more than you will expect from first arrival.  He stressed the warmth and depth of the relationship and Marlborough Brandt Group did come up in the discussion. He is aware of it.  He talked about the real benefits of the people to people ties that bind the two countries - the number of tourists and things like that.  It was interesting that he focused on the need to have a new chapter in the bilateral relationship, which we all know has had a few speed bumps in the last few years.  I am confident that we are entering a new era and that we can go back to having a more in depth relationship at the political level and that will obviously have benefits across the board. I have also met the vice president, the foreign minister and about a dozen cabinet ministers already and one thing that came through to me, very clearly, was their genuine fondness of the United Kingdom.  The majority of them studied or graduated from UK Colleges. When I met the vice president there were ministers present and out of a total of seven five graduated from British universities. So the links between the two countries are very, very strong indeed.  I see it my job to establish a closer relationship with the president, vice president and the foreign minister during my time here and to take forward the relationship”. MBG chairman and co-founder of Gunjur Marlborough link, Dr Nick Maurice(OBE) said: “I can’t resist saying that this partnership between Gunjur and Marlborough from the outset has been about mutual benefits.  It is not a one way stream of aid. We see this as not us the rich giving to them the poor. We see this as a mutual relationship, sitting under a mango tree together recognising that we have strengths and weaknesses and that we can learn about each other’s lives, culture and together we can make the world a safer, a more just and peaceful place. We have heard a lot about the benefits that accrued to Gunjur but as far as we are concerned there are personal benefits that accrued to us from living in this community. One unique feature of this link is that we live with families rather than a hotel down the road.  I can’t say adequately how grateful all of us from Marlborough who have been here are, for what we have gained both in terms of our personal development and our professional development. Many people who have been here at the age of 19-20 have then gone on to get involved in international development thanks to the experience of being here”.  Other speakers included the chairman of Gunjur Link chairman, Ousmam Manko Touray and Sandang Bojang, Programme officer of Trust Agency for Rural Development(Tarud).