By Ndey Sowe
The National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has on Monday, 30th November, 2020, commenced a weeklong training for youth and women of Barra on tour guiding and sustainable livelihood skills.
The training which is supported by German Commission for UNESCO and Federal Foreign Ministry is held under the theme: “Combating Covid-19 Impairment at Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites, Jufureh, The Gambia through Skills Acquisition, Community Outreach and Peer Exchange.”
The tour guiding and skill acquisition training program brought together young men and women of the North Bank Region (NBR) at Fort Bullen, Barra.
The training on tour guiding and skill acquisition is in tie and dye and soap making process. This is conducted ahead of the completion of the ongoing construction of the Dawda K. Jawara Resort in Barra.
Hassoum Ceesay, NCAC Director General, said the training will help a community that is hosting UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the Covid-19 pandemic, while highlighting that most of these communities like Barra, Jufureh, Albreda, WASSU depend on tourists.
“And now that the Covid-19 hindered their efforts, it has caused some difficulties to those communities. This project seeks to elevate those difficulties through skills acquisition,” he said. “We have selected some youths in Barra and its surrounding villages to start undergoing training because the Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
Director Ceesay shared his optimism that the site will attract more tourists particularly with the awaiting Sir Dawda Jawara Hotel which is under construction in the community.
“We want to make them ready to be able to benefit from these heritage sites through tour guiding. We want to use the heritage resource in these communities to give the youths hope to stay in their communities and earn a livelihood,” he said.
In regards to skill acquisition for women in tie and dye, Director Ceesay said part of the hotel will be a craft market. Thus, he said that is why they want to prepare women in NBR to give them the skills to make quality souvenirs for the tourists to buy.
Ceesay therefore thanked the supporters for the encouragement of female participation in heritage management and also in all activities where heritage is expected to benefit communities.
Salma Sarr, a trainee who graduated from St. Joseph Senior Secondary School, said the training will help uplift her life and her fellow trainees.
Ms. Sarr disclosed that they have not benefited from such opportunity before, noting that there are youths who are very talented but because of the area they live, many people don’t consider them.
“And they think it is only those living in Kombo that can do it”, she said.
She further said not everybody is academically sound, but the training will help them do something for themselves and their families. Nonetheless she advised her fellow trainees to take the course seriously because it is a rare opportunity.
Adama Jatta, one of the trainers, shared his optimism that the training will be a successful one, saying almost all the trainees are youth and don’t have lot of work to do.
“I will do my level best to convince them to take the training serious, because with good skills, anywhere they go they can make it and earn something for their livelihood”, she assured.
She also applauded NCAC for the great efforts and urged them to adjust more because training women can sometimes be difficult.