Drexel University to partner with GDA to protect environment
Students and professors from Drexel University in the United States of America on Wednesday visited Gunjur under the auspices Gunjur Development Association (GDA) as part of their annual trip to The Gambia.Speaking to Gunjur Online, vice provost of international development and professor of Global Environmental Health and Environmental Science at Drexel University of Philadelphia in the USA, Shannon Marquez said their visit is in line with the spirit of solidarity and readiness to help the people of Gunjur in their work on environmental conservation and sustainability. This, she said, will enhance understanding of environmental issues as global issues. Her words: “We have the obligation to preserve and protect the environment. I feel excited to bring students to learn about great initiatives that have been taken by the communities to see the results of soil degradation that have occurred due to the poor management of environmental resources and how we can all have conscious approach to addressing them. “During our last visit in The Gambia, we had listened to news of many struggles that have occurred between the communities and other entities who have impacted the environment and here we are very saddened that there is still some areas of struggle related to environmental protection, and am inspired to see many youths and young professionals returning to the village to help support capacities particularly the environment”. Professor Marquez added she is inspired by the movement that has occurred as an example to take the bull by the horns in Africa particularly in The Gambia to address the concerns of the people. She singled out GDA as a “wonderful community based organization that is driven by the interest of the community citing it as a great example to other coastal villages who are facing the same environmental issues. Professor Marquez expressed thanks to GDA and all other organizations for making their visit a success. The movements on the tour included Gunjur Development Association, Eco Travel Gambia, Gunjur Environmental Protection and Development (GEOADG) and Gunjur Youth Movement. Speaking at the GDA Office in Gunjur, Omar Diamond Darboe who serves as GDA treasurer informed the visitors that GDA comprises of people in Gunjur, citizens of Gunjur in diaspora and friends of Gunjur.
The main aim of the Association, he said, is to constructively challenge any environmental activities that can cause detriment to our environment, to promote excellence within the community by initiating community help projects for sustainable development and also to collaborate with other CBOs who have similar aims and objectives of GDA in order to complement each other’s efforts. He added: “More than D250,000 has been spent at the Gunjur Health Centre to rehabilitate Water and electricity power supply in the Centre in collaboration with the UK based Kombo Sillah Association. Fifteen Thousand seedlings have also been planted at the most affected sand-mining areas in Gunjur in collaboration with other CBOs in Gunjur and beyond. GDA also supported 66 young people including police officers, fire and rescue service officers to undergo First Aid training to save lives. GDA has also rehabilitated all the major roads in Gunjur. Sarjo Jabang, GDA Planing and Development Officer said plans are underway for the construction of a well equipoed youth centre in Gunjur which can be used by the youths of Gunjur and beyond to showcase their talents and skills. Other speakers included Hatab Jobe, GDA Works Coordinator, Bunama Jatta and Lamin Jassey who served as tour coordinators. The places visited by the delegation included Gunjur village mesium,Turtle Hatchery at Gunjur Beach, The Gunjur Project, Gunjur Health Centre and the new offices of Gunjur Development Association.
At the end of the tour, an MOU between GDA and Drexel University was presented by Omar Diamond Darboe to the head of the Drexel University delegation to the Gambia in the interest of a better partnership for sustainable development.
Reacting to the visit of Drexel University to Gunjur and the proposal of an MOU between the two partners, Ahmed Manjang had this to say:
“I would like to thank our ground team leading yet another useful tour with Drexel University team. I would like to thank Drexel team for their generous donations of medication to the local health center. I welcome GDA proposal to sign MOU with the team from Drexel University which if sign will bring immense benefits to both parties. My special thanks to professor Shannon Marquez for choosing Gunjur yet again, we hope this is just the beginning of long-standing relationships between GDA and Drexel University”
The vote of thanks was given by Badara Njie Bajo, the chairperson of GDA Gambia Chapter.