Chair’s Report May 2021

Chair’s 6 month Report: Jan 2021 – May 2021

And so the pandemic has continued… well into 2021. This January to May period has been one of further disruption to the work of the Charity both in the UK and in the Gambia. In the UK there have been two further lockdowns since our last meeting in September 2020 and two of the Trustees have experienced Covid 19. Fortunately, they recovered and with the end of lockdown we will hold our first formal face-to-face Trustees’ meeting of 2021 on May 18th.

In The Gambia our CATs Chernor and Lamin have continued to participate in their studies and take on an active role in their country’s response to Covid as well as continue to promote the work of aidgambia – TCHC.

Trustees were very pleased to receive the excellent report on the Eye Care for All (ECFA) prison project which ran from June to November 2020. This project played an important role in helping to prevent the spread of the Covid virus in the Juvenile Prison in New Jeshwang, Mile II Central Prison in Banjul and Janjanbureh prison in Central River Region. A total of 750 inmates and prison officers were supplied with two face masks each. Trustees would like to thank Project Manager Nfarama Sanyong and the 15 team members who actively supported the project. aidgambia – TCHC hopes to continue to support further EyeCare for All (ECFA) projects in the future.

The Bendon Bursary goes from strength to strength with two new successful applicants Ebrima K. Jallow a student of Public and Environmental Health Studies and Karafa Marong, a student of Nursing and also Communications Officer for ECFA. Our existing recipients have been excellent with Lamin now in his 3rd year at the American University. In addition, Lamin is now the new Sports Minister 20/21 at the University with a landslide vote using the strapline, ‘Everyone is Someone’ . Chernor, our inaugural recipient, is now a proud graduate with outstanding marks in his exams. Trustees look forward to receiving new Bendon Bursary applications, advertised via our CATs in The Gambia and also the website in time for the new academic year in September 2021.

At the UK end of operations, Trustees have been reviewing financial matters. The Treasurer has managed to arrange a quicker and more efficient means of transferring money to The Gambia. Trustees have agreed that regular donations are better made via Gift Aid forms and thus saving on Virgin Giving fees. We continue to be challenged by our website but hopefully a website course the Treasurer enrolled on may lead to improvements. Hopefully, this will allow us at least to keep photos more up to date.

The Trustees have been grateful to our Clinical Advisor Trustees (CATs) for keeping us up to speed on activities in The Gambia as well as monitoring projects and supporting the Bendon Bursary recipients. It was wonderful to receive the news that The Gambia has eradicated trachoma as a public health problem (Ministry of Health release 20/04/2021). This is the leading cause of infectious blindness. It starts as an infection like conjunctivitis but if not treated can cause scarring of the eyes and pulls lashes inward. However, with the help from WHO, Sightsavers, Pfizer and London School of Tropical Medicine The Gambia has eradicated this terrible infection.

With travel restrictions still in place Trustees are unsure when they will be able to visit The Gambia. However, our work will continue with the help of our CATs and key links.

Marilyn McMenemy

Chair – aidgambia TCHC