Until the Covid-19 outbreak, things had been going very well in Bakary Sambouya. We have been inching our way slowly forward with plans to hand over the school and the clinic in 2021. It's been quite a journey over the last 4 years, at times feeling optimistic and at others wondering if the school and the clinic can have a realistic future. The last few months have been very encouraging, especially since the formation of a Village Development Committee, (VDC) and new management committees for the clinic and school.
Working with them, the plan was for fundraising by the village to increase over the coming year and for our contribution to salaries, maintenance etc. to gradually decrease. We stopped all income to the charity at the beginning of this financial year and have been budgeting as far as we can for our remaining funds and reserves to last as long as possible in support of the school and clinic.
That was until March when the first case of Coronavirus hit Gambia. The country went into immediate lockdown, so overnight people had no work, no income and no government support.
This is a fascinating short documentary on the impact of lockdown in African countries. It shows how that approach is totally unsuited to the culture and lifestyle, and causes far greater suffering, hardship and death rates than the virus itself.
What has happened in Bakary Sambouya supports this thesis. To date in the whole country, the virus has been well contained. They have had 23 cases and only 1 death, but without incomes people cannot buy food, so at the moment the crisis is one of hunger and starvation. In addition to this they are about to go into the rain season, which is when malaria cases increase dramatically.
In early May the VDC began approaching the wealthier villagers, organisations and possible donors to request financial aid for food supplies to donate to needy families. We contributed to this appeal and subsequently sent another £1000 to be spent on food and help with the cost of medicines. We then put out an appeal to our supporters and another £2000 was raised in less than a week. This morning that money was spent on essential food supplies and is being distributed as I write this. In total 230 families have been helped. It is incredible how technology now allows us to move at such speed.
I am hoping that also today they were able to purchase more PPE, as the first supplies bought in March are nearly finished. I'm hoping that availability there is better than here.
Of course it is impossible to predict what will happen next, and even in the best scenario, it is unlikely that we will be able to meet all the needs that this situation throws up. It feels important that we keep enough of our funds to continue to support the school and clinic in the way we have committed to for the coming year. At the same time we must continue to fund PPE and try to help with food aid to some degree.
This is an extract from a letter I received this week from our lead nurse:
EMERGENCY BRIEF REPORT
The 12th may is international nurse’s day. This time W H O urges government, organization and philanthropist to support health workers in Africa especially nurses who are always with close contact with patients every time.
Nearly more than 1000 health workers, nurses contracted the virus through their work; some of them lost their lives .The WHO urges stake holders to ensure nurses have equipment and supplies needed to deliver care safely.
Yesterday the Gambia registered its 22 cases of covid 19 which is alarming .the clinic staff are doing their best but need more preventive measures equipment and materials to protect themselves, their families and the communities ,if they contract the virus because of inadequate preventive protective equipment that means their families and communities will not be and exemption .yes the community of bakary sambuyaa is in real need of rice, sugar etc which I think kambeng trust should help , but the clinic staff life will be at risk if protective equipment and supplies like enough masks, enough hand Sanitizer, protective gears are not available. There is enough soap, bleach and other disinfectant available. The last mask and hand sanitizer purchased are almost exhausted.
The clinic staffs appeal to kambeng trust to help them acquire these protective materials to deliver care safely. Our health is also our concern.
The clinic staff are adhering to the WHO guidelines and patients and communities are sensitize very well about the importance of distancing spacing , hand washing , stay at home safe lives , but this is Africa sometimes before you realizes what happen these rules are broken. The clinic staffs once more appeal for urgent help in order to safe guide their lives. Below is a breakdown
DESCRIPTION QUANTITY AMOUNT
1. FACE MASK 250 D200 X 250=D50 .000.00
2. HAND SANITIZER 15 BOTTLES D400 X15 ==D6000.00
3. PROTECTIVE GEAR 5 D500.00X 5=D2,500.00
TOTAL AMOUNT D58 ,500.00
NB THESE PROTECTIVE MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENTS WILL TAKE US FOR THE MONTH OF MAY, JUNE, JULY AND IF POSSIBLE AUGUST .BECAUSE WE CANNOT TELL WHEN THIS PANDEMIC WILL END.
The first food handouts were at the beginning of the month. It is Ramadan at the moment and during this time people consume less, so those supplies will probably last till the beginning of June. But then more will be needed. I know that we cannot do it all, but if we can at least keep up the supplies of PPE and some food, it will make a difference.
Here are two extracts from a letter from the VDC this week