KING CHARLES HONOURS WELLBORING! FOUNDATION RAISES MONEY FOR THE GAMBIA & SIERRA LEONE & WELCOMES WEST AFRICA CHAIRMAN
On Monday, 9th January 2023, in Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK, HI’s Chairman, Dr Karamo Sonko was welcomed as Chairman of WellBoring (West Africa) by a distinguished group of English men and a lady, absolutely keen and excited about working in Africa to provide water for school children and their communities. They were the leaders of WellBoring (UK), a British foundation and HI’s partner, that has recently completely 300 wells, mostly in East Africa. Consequently, King Charles of Britain has recognized its co-founder and Chairman of WellBoring (UK), Nigel Linacre, with a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List 2023. Other good news include: the successful raising of more money for more wells in the Gambia, the decision to re-start projects in Sierra Leone, and a planned wedding of two of the foundation’s biggest supporters whom Dr Sonko met during his visit. HI is very grateful to Nigel for organizing the visit of Dr Sonko and grateful to the A-Teams in the UK and Africa, for their excellent work in our continent!
The year 2022 was a year for which I am grateful to, and proud of, our Gambian teams and colleagues. Here are the reasons why:
1. Throughout the year, a highly motivated and smart team of young men and women helped me to train 249 Gambians with special needs (ie. “disabled” Gambians) in entrepreneurship and tailoring. The team travelled and selected representatives all over the country. We had earlier given microcredit to an experimental group of 37 beneficiaries.
2. In June and August, we worked with our partner, Community Action Platform for the Environment and Development (CAPED), for the successful replanting of 2500 mangroves.
3. After an initial drilling campaign in the early part of the year, WellBoring West Africa’s Kenyan drilling expert said to me: “The Gambian team can now do it on their own”. He was right! Our Gambian team helped us to complete the drilling of wells for school children and their communities across all the five regions of the country. The entire Phase 1 programme was executed in a total of ONLY 3 weeks and completed in August.
4. In December, more than 60 compatriots joined me to embark on a research project on tribalism with the following objectives:
To understand the causes, consequences and responses (policy, etc.) needed to counter it in our country
To organize a post-survey stakeholders' forum for presenting the outcomes and recommendations. Gambians at home and abroad (from academia, businesses and international organizations) teamed up for this project. 43 survey assistants are presently travelling in the country at the moment collecting vital data. Six additional research assistants have started addressing alleged tribe-related official actions and public verbal political pronouncements since 2000, and reviewing the existing academic literature on the subject in Africa. Our Gambian advisers include those with credentials from top universities such as Cambridge and Harvard, international financial institutions such as the IsDB and IMF, governments such as the American and British, and African universities in the Gambia and Ghana. I proudly say that they are all my friends or relatives with deep to the Gambia. The project is fully funded by Heeno International (HI), a wholly Gambian foundation.
I am also grateful to the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and the government officials from five Ministries (especially the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs) for helping us to serve our nation in 2022!
TEACHER OF OXFORD COVID-19 VACCINE SCIENTIST GETS RECOGNITION AFTER 40 YEARS
Bakary Camara, a teacher at Bundung Lower Basic School, The Gambia, finally got recognition after 40 years and teaching more than 10,000 students, without a promotion. 30 years were at Bundung School. �On February 27th, 2020, Mr. Camara's ex-pupils organized a ceremony to honour him at their old school, during which he received gifts of appreciation from them, a certificate from Heeno International for exceptional community service, and news (yet to be confirmed officially) of an unexpected promotion to Senior Master from the Gambia government. Asked what kept him going all these years, Mr. Camara said: "the passion, enjoyment of working with the kids and their phenomenal love, the respect of their parents and my colleagues. I am not teaching for money or position!"
Dr Karamo Sonko, Chairman of Heeno International, was personally invited by Mr. Camara to grace the occasion. He described Mr. Camara as "a committed and selfless community servant with incredible patience!"
One of Mr. Camara's most distinguished students is Mr. Lamin Bojang, Advisor to an Executive Director at the World Bank. He said that his teacher is "one of our finest teachers who has laid the foundation of our lives ... kind, patient and always willing to help his students."� Other outstanding students include:
Dr Mustapha Bittaye, Post-Doctoral Researcher and member of the COVID-19 research team at Jenner Institute, Oxford University; Ada Jaiteh Fye, Chief Financial Officer, Global Fund for Africa; Dr Haddy Njie, Assistant Professor of International Relations at North Carolina University, Raleigh; and Tijan Touray, Managing Director, Takaful Insurance Company of the Gambia.
WellBoring West Africa held its first board meeting on December 21, 2020, following its registration this year in The Gambia and election of Dr Karamo Sonko as Chairman. The Foundation is preparing to launch its pilot well project in The Gambia this year, as the beginning of its water program for the benefit of primary school children and their communities in West Africa.
WellBoring West Africa is one of two affiliates established by the British water Foundation, WellBoring, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second one is WellBoring Germany. WellBoring USA was established in 2019. The Foundation is fighting the pandemic in East Africa with water from its wells and soap from Colgate. In 2018, WellBoring's target was to dig 100 wells and provide water for 100 schools and communities in East Africa by 2020. It has now surpassed that goal, with 150 wells and schools by the end of last year, providing water for a total population of some 150,000.
We are grateful at Heeno International that WellBoring has responded very keenly to our invitation for a partnership, for the benefit of children and education in West Africa.
HEENO sponsored the Fair Play Trophy at the University of The Gambia Annual Games at the Independent Stadium in 2019. The School of Journalism was awarded with the trophy with a cash prize which was very useful to the school.
Heeno also provided t-shirts for the social science students. The Social Science Association has almost 100 members.
Heeno provided training kits for the School of Business and Public Administration students in preparation of the final match. The school has a population of 5000 students and all the players benefitted from these training kits.
They also sponsored the Hope t-shirt project for the Gambia Disablity Foundation. The foundation has 1000 members. The Hope t-shirt project, which was entirely financed by Heeno, prints and sells black and white t-shirts which are intended to give hope and promote internationally during this period of racial tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heeno also contributed towards the Hope Academy's sports competition. The Academy has more than 300 young boys and girls who play basketball to develop their career.
Heeno contributed in the mangroves restoration project in Sintet.
HEENO also provided food and protective materials support to the village of Sintet at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The village has a population of about 10,000.
HEENO provided face masks for the Bwiam Health Center during the COVID 19 outbreak. The number of employees of Bwiam Health Center is about 100 nurses and 20 doctors who work to serve the community, especially the sick ones.
Heeno contributed towards the fencing of the Wurokang cemetery. Wurokang village has more than 1000 people.
Heeno continues to play a leading role among Gambian NGOs in the area of education, through financial assistance for fees, accommodation and short-term courses for Gambian students at home, Indonesia, Morocco and the Sudan. In the Sudan, the beneficiaries are both Gambian and Sierra Leone students of more than a 100. The Chairman of Heeno met the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr Moosa Taha in December 2019 and successfully negotiated scholarships for Gambian students in the fields of medicine and agreement. An agreement was signed by the two parties. Heeno started its relationship with Gambian students at the university in 2011. Its relations with Gambian students in Morocco started about four years later.
HEENO has built a bakery in Sintet Village. The bakery project in Sintet village is intended to provide full time bread supply for the entire village.
In Nyamina Pinai, The Gambia, and Talat Ouchen, Bounaamane, Morocco, HI contributed to community boreholes which provided water for more than a thousand beneficiaries.
Heeno international sponsored the Gambia University Inter-Faculty Tournament in 2019, which began on January with 14 teams, participating over a period of three months. Heeno sponsored the School of Business and Public Administration with 20 sets of camping jerseys, 5 sets of official wear and ten bips. Heeno also provided the Fair Play Trophy for the most disciplined team with a cash price that was more than the winning trophy.
The final of the tournament was played on Wednesday 13th of March at the Independence Stadium, between the School of Business and the School of Education. The final was won by the School of Business and Public Administration. It was attended by the Minister of Youths and Sports, the Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia and Heeno's representative, Lamin Sanneh, Human Resource and the logistics Manager. Over 2000 students from different facilities attended.
Heeno International (HI) is honoured to be the main sponsor of the International Day of Sign Language and the International Week of the Deaf in The Gambia this year. On September 29, 2018, the bright colours and cheerful faces of more than 300 Gambians matched the joy of the occasion. They marched on dust, mud and tarmac for about three and a half kilometres from Westfied to Kanifing. The police band rammed their drums, clapped with metals and blew their saxophones and trumpets. What a bright, beautiful and happy day for the men and women of silence in their world of isolation!
They were the members of The Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who, most efficiently, organized the event and invited a band they could not hear the sound of. At first I asked myself why they invited a band, but then I realized that it was an excellent idea, for it was not the deaf who needed to hear, but the Gambians who could hear who needed to listen. A message was in the metals of the neatly uniformed young police men and women! The band looked and sounded good and the common citizens from all ethnic groups and religions in The Gambia looked even better!
As I watched them pass, in a video sent by Lamin Sanneh, HI's Human Resources and Logistics Manager, I asked myself whether the overwhelming majority of my compatriots, who could hear, did hear the sweet message conveyed by the police drums and metals, on behalf of our nation's deaf and hard of hearing. I asked myself whether the vast majority of my compatriots, who were not even aware of the event, did hear the message: "One Gambia, One People, One Nation!" I would not blame "the could nots", but would certainly blame "the would nots" if they did not hear the sweet message of that day and this week, echoing loud and clear: "One Gambia, One People, One Nation!"
CONFERENCE SPEECH REACHES A $1000 A COPY
Karamo NM Sonko
June 22, 2018
Last week another friend, the chief executive officer of an international institution, whom I had given a copy of my published "TafCon 2017" speech to, handed over a $1,000 (one thousand US dollars) to me.
I had earlier thought of deducting my cost of printing the speech (now fully recovered) from the sales of the publication and giving the profit to charity. This latest show of generosity has encouraged me to allocate all the proceeds (cost and profit) so far to The Gambia Disability Impact Trust Fund, an innovative and historic Fund for the benefit of disabled Gambian men and women, which my Foundation and the Taf Foundation are about to launch.
I am NOT special. However, my targeted beneficiaries in need and generous friends indeed are the ones who are very special! The speech is also special because it is an appeal to Gambians and the world to be one. Unless we see each other as one, divisions would destroy our nation and our world.
After many years of giving, I have now learnt from experience that the best way of using limited financial resources to help people is to focus on those with the greatest need and empower them. Success in empowering such people (like anyone else) depends on how reliable, industrious and resourceful they are.
Sophia Shane, HI's Representative in Canada and Website Manager has coordinated and participated in a visit to the Sheldridge elephant orphanage in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, on September 16, 2014. Sophia has gone as part of an Africa Oil delegation which took 33 investors, analysts and other business people from around the world to visit the elephants, in conjunction with visiting Africa Oil's projects. The Company will buy 33 copies of Daphne Sheldrick's autobiography, with the proceeds going to the orphanage. Africa Oil will also sponsor an elephant on behalf of each guest.
Sophia sponsored HI's Best Donkey Prize in Mauritania in 2013 is also the sponsor of a baby elephant at the orphanage called Teleki (named after Count Samuel Teleki who led the first expedition to penetrate the forest zone of Mount Kenya in 1887). Tekele was found all alone a couple of years ago, with a badly infected machete wound to the head; the rest of the elephant's family was killed by poachers. Tekele is doing well now and, as Sophia puts it, 'he is quite the rascal with his new adopted family'.
Africa Oil Corp. is a Canadian oil and gas company with assets in Kenya and Ethiopia as well as Puntland (Somalia) through its 45% equity interest in Horn Petroleum Corporation. Africa Oil's East African holdings are within a world-class exploration play fairway with a total gross land package in this prolific region in excess of 215,000 square kilometers. The East African Rift Basin system is one of the last of the great rift basins to be explored. The Company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ OMX-Stockholm under the symbol "AOI".
The Chairman of HI led a delegation of business men from North and West Africa, including Ahmed Mohamedou (HI's representative in Mauritania and Morocco), to South Africa from the 27th to the 29th of January, 2014. During their visit, they met high-ranking government officials in Pretoria and Johannesburg, including the Minister of Energy and the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources. They also met Mr Elias Masilela, Convenor and author of the 43 Trelawny Park Legacy project.
The delegation engaged with various South African businessmen and women, including representatives of the Black Business Council of South Africa. This mission was organized by BBM Inc., one of South Africa's top legal firms. The discussions focused on identifying various areas of business opportunity in South Africa and the rest of Africa, especially in the mining, telecommunications and energy sectors.
The Chairman also met the Deputy President of South Africa, His Excellency Kgalema Motlanthe, and proceeded to Cape Town from Johannesburg to attend the Mining Indaba, from February 2-6, where he was invited to the interactive lunch session hosted by Lord Robin Renwick of Clifton, Vice Chairman of J. P. Morgan, at the Mount Nelson Hotel on February 3rd.
Since November last year (2011), HI's Chairman has visited the UK, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan and several Gambian villages and held meetings with various parties. In the UK, he was invited to inaugurate WILLC (Worcester Islamic Library and Learning Centre) in Worcester on February 5th, a library on Islam which is open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. On February 27, 2012, he visited St. Richard's Hospice in Worcester, where he met the Chief Executive and Corporate Partnerships and Events Fundraiser. Last year (2012) alone St Richard's was reported to have helped over 2,300 patients with life threatening illnesses and their family members by providing care for them through many different services. In Ghana, the Chairman visited remote areas in the Western Region, about 500 kilometers from the capital Accra and was met by traditional rulers (Queen Mothers, a Paramount Chief and Chiefs) and other community leaders in two paramount chiefdoms. He was also met by the top management of Chirano Gold Mines, in Sefwi Chirano. In Egypt and Sudan, he met West African university students who are studying in various fields. In Sudan he had a meeting in the capital Khartoum with the Vice Chancellor and other managers of the International University of Africa, which provides education for 92 nationalities throughout the world.