As young gel with old, Zainab Faal presents face of new Gunjur development push
At the official launching of the newly registered Gunjur Development Association (GDA) on Friday, 13th October, the Public Relations Officer of the association - Zainab Faal disclosed that GDA is a continuation of Gunjur Development Fund which started some 17 years ago and has now taken a new dimension as a result of the changing nature and developmental needs of the community.
"Today, with the changing nature and developmental needs of our community, the role of Gunjur Development Fund has taken new dimensions that culminated in the formation of Gunjur Development Association (GDA) in May 2017. It is formed by people of Gunjur and Gunjur citizens in the Diaspora. Membership of the Organization is open to all citizens of Gunjur and friends of Gunjur. The organization's support and source of income is cash or in kind through membership contributions most of which comes from the Gunjur community in the diaspora. This organization aims to address social and environmental development issues and agenda within Gunjur that may span to other parts of the district."
Zainab further disclosed that GDA is a non partisan organisation here to work with The Gambia government as well as the local authorities in whatever role the association can play to develop and protect Gunjur from negative human activities such as deforestation, environmental degradation by individuals, domestic and foreign companies.
The need for a different approach
On the importance of the existence of a Gunjur Development Association, Faal continued: "We strongly advocate for the preservation, protection and development of the coastline from Kartong to Banjul that will immensely contribute to the growth of Tourism in The Gambia. As we all know the Tourism sector for The Gambia accounts for 20% pre Ebola scare (2014) of our national GDP. Gunjur Development Association’s mission is to strive to bring all cultural and ethnic groups in Gunjur together without regard to ethnicity, political affiliation, or religion. We shall act as a development agent for Gunjur community and to work in partnership with the Village Development Committee (VDC) and the entire community to supplement the government’s and other Non-Governmental Organizations to development efforts."
In conclusion, Zainab indicated some of the achievements the newly registered GDA accomplished since inception in May 2017.
"As we embark on this new development partnership, we want to inform this gathering of a successful tree planting exercise we carried out in collaboration with the Geology department in an effort to repair the damage of sand mining around some parts of our coastline has caused. Through a massive outpouring of support the community in Gunjur with help from the Gunjur community in the diaspora, a total of more than 11,500 plants were planted. We also raised over One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Dalasis that will be used towards to refurbishment of the equipment at the Gunjur Health Center in the coming weeks and months. As we move on with these projects, we are asking for full support from the community, local authorities and the Central government. We are thanking our guests who traveled all the way to Gunjur to attend this event on behalf of the entire membership of Gunjur Development Association."
How the new GDA is received in the community
Speaking at the event, Chief Lamin S. Darboe expressed his happiness in the formation of GDA. He applaud the thinking, iniation of Gunjurians to come together to set up a Development Association to compliment the efforts of government. "Gunjur is fortunate to have her citizens scattered across the globe and if these people have decided to come together to put their ideas and resources together for betterment of Gunjur, it could not have happened at a better time and assured the association of his full support." Chief Darboe went further to advice GDA to always consult and collaborate with existing bodies in Gunjur whenever they intend to implement anything in the village. He concluded by emphersising the need for unity around GDA regardless of political party affiliation.
Demba Jobe Touray, current Gunjur VDC Chairman expressed his confidence in the new Gunjur Development Association and had this to say: "Many organizations have come and gone but the reason why I think this one will succeed, is because of the integrity of the people involved in this Association"
Also speaking on behalf of the Gunjur Nyangsimbaa, Mba Neneh Samateh urged the women to take their rightful place in developing the village. She further advised the gathering to honour and respect village elders in everything they do when it comes to matters of concern to the village.
The GDA/GDF achievements so far
On his part, Badara Njie Bajo, President of Gunjur Development Association in Gunjur remarked: "Today, we are here to celebrate the launching of Gunjur Development Association; a new organization followed The Gunjur Development Fund. This group containing the children of Gunjur has carried out the following in Gunjur:
*Renovation/Upgrade of the Gunjur Central Mosque * Fenced the Nyamina Soccer field * Rehabilitated roads * Purchase of a funeral van for the community of Gunjur * Purchased a milling machine at the Co-operative to help Village women from pounding their cereal produce * Installed a water pump for the provision of clean water to the community. *A cyber café was constructed but was unfortunately burnt down before being put into use. * Provided two metal coffins that are stationed at the RVH mortuary in Banjul to help in the transportation of the deceased. *Supported a summer support program. * Established an academic Excellence Awards to outstanding students."
Other speakers at the event include the Ward Councillor of Gunjur, Mr Jorang Bojang, Hatab Jobe among others.
In his closing remarks, Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh acknowledged the high turnout of women at the launch event and encourage them to take up their rightuf place at the forefront of community development. His words: "You can all tell Awa Sey that the women have outnumbered the men in attendance. BUT, we do not want this to look like the women are only here to clap and dance for the gathering. I have 2 daughters. Therefore, I want to see men and women equally represented in all sectors of society when it comes to the development of our village and the country at large. We will no longer tolerate the old norms of women backbenchers! LETS NOT JUST TALK ABOUT ADVANCING OUR WOMEN! Let's make efforts to employ them in our businesses and the government. I am certain that this Association will not be like any other! We will not take anything from the community! We are here to bring development to Gunjur! WHEREVER I GO, PEOPLE WILL IDENTIFY ME AS A GUNJURIAN BECAUSE OF MY ACCENT. We all have the same aspirations for Gunjur. Our parents educated us and we want the same opportunities for your children."
Entertainment at the launching event was provided by Gunjur based cultural groups - Alang Kokang, Alamuta and Gunjur Scout band. The event was attended by a cross section of the community of Gunjur, representative of the Alkalo, council of elders, local MP and hugely dominated by women who are now ready to be at the forefront of Gunjur's development efforts.