Self-help Organization Celebrates Nine Years Trailblazing in Health, Education, Community Services


By Momodou Jarju

Matida Kebbeh believes in social justice and providing safety nets for women and girls, as well as the disadvantaged communities.

To accomplish this, the feminist cum development strategist, joined a self-help organization in 2014 as a volunteer to fulfill her mission.

There she would propel to serve as secretary general to the position of deputy country director of the organization.

Her boss is out of the country currently and she is now the acting director overseeing their organization called Your Change For A Change (YCFAC).

Their Organization is a non-profit organization founded on April 6, 2011 by a group of young individuals who were motivated to give back to their communities, and the world at large.

Their organization is a resource for under privileged children and expecting mothers facing disease. And to ensure they achieve this, the founders embarked on making the organization a global endeavor.

“We started teams worldwide to help fulfill the mission, which is to make available quality and responsive disease prevention and management incentives for communities.  Nine years now we are trailblazing in the areas of free health, education and community service,” she said.

Health Fair, Other Initiatives

Part of their organization’s activities is the annual Health Fair they organized. The health fair has been their branded activity since 2011 when they organized in their bid to fight against non-communicable diseases in the country.

“We conduct free health checks for the disadvantaged communities far and wide in The Gambia, this activity brings health provides together to serve various communities at no cost,” she said.

The health fair is well recognized and sought after all over the country by people to either partner with them or provide service for their communities. This is a success story they cherish.

“Our group of volunteers keeps growing to serve, the communities we serve narrate success stories and recognition is felt beyond the Kombos, as we continue to touch lives in a positive way in every single town in the country,” Kebbeh said.

The Back to School Initiative is another activity the organization embarks on, where they provide school going materials for first graders in disadvantaged communities.

The package includes school books, pencils, erasers, rulers and a bag, as well as words of encouragement to motivate children to stay in school.

Kebbeh also indicated that RHEPAS is another important project they designed for healthy sexual behavior of adolescents.

The initiative proffers knowledge on risks of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and AIDS, freedom from risk of sexual diseases, and full knowledge of contraceptive choices.

“Added to the above we have the birthday initiatives, which enable our members to give back to their communities on their birthdays.  We also conduct community outreaches and sensitization Bantabas to discuss crucial health issues, like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), TB (Tuberculosis), Breast Cancer and other important health topics,” she added.

9 Years Long Ride

Nine years of existence, is an experience Kebbeh described as long ride with challenges they had to grapple with to keep things moving.

They are a self-financed organization and most of their activities are sponsored by members and few donors.

This always limits the scope of their activities and also limits the resources they have, making it hard to come to the need of everyone who seek their services.

“We are mobiled because we don’t have a permanent office space of our own. This also slow down programing of activities as we mostly rely on other options,” she explained.

Despite these challenges, they have never wavered in executing their services to people, especially those in the rural communities.

“But as resilient as the baobab, we never let this retard us,” she pointed out.

Kebbeh and her team’s endeavors did not go unnoticed. While rendering services to the people free of charge, the people they met in turn, for the first time, treat them like their own on first sight and shared whatever they have with them.

“We also learned how privileged we are that no matter how small, we managed to share to impact on the health service of this communities,” she said.

Rural Communities Need More Help

According to Kebbeh, more needs to be done for the rural communities, while hoping that the health ministry takes her recommendation into account.

Matida believes the rural communities are hard to reach due to deplorable road conditions. Most of them don’t have access to clinics too, she added.

“Imagine {how} emergency health issues look like in those regions.  Women in those places are still scared of being pregnant due to the number of labor complications,” Kebbeh said.

In order to ameliorate the situation of rural communities in the country in health matters, Kebbeh is of the opinion the government through the ministry of health should provide access to proper medical services within a close network.

She also tasked the local administrative authorities to work on providing good road networks which would ease their work as NGOs.

“I believe it’s the duty of local government councils to provide proper road networks from the main highways connecting to these villages, making them accessible to NGOs and health service providers,” she said.

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