Just Act Gambia ~ABOUT US
MISSION AND HISTORY
A charity to support and develop income-earning opportunities for the youths of Janjanbureh, and the surrounding area, in the Central River Region, The Gambia, West Africa.
Founded by Jane Smith in December 2009, working with the then National Assembly Member representing Janjanbureh, the late Honourable Foday Jibani Manka.
Read a newspaper article about him here
To enable community-led development
To support accredited and non - accredited training through local organisations thereby developing life skills and income earning opportunities
To maximise the use of local expertise in developing training
To enable Janjanbureh and surrounding areas to develop responsible, sustainable pro-poor tourism for the benefit of the community whilst respecting the local culture, traditions and the natural environment
To enable rural regeneration so the school population of today is assured of a prospering town sufficient to reduce rural /urban/ illegal migration
Jane Smith ~ Founder
Jane first travelled to Janjanbureh, The Gambia in February 2004 for just one week through an educational link. That was enough to capture her heart and she decided to try and support the community in some small way. On subsequent visits, staying with Tida Manka, the then retired Head Teacher of the Methodist Lower Basic School, she met her brother, the late Foday Jibani Manka (later to become the National Assembly Member). Foday had immense historical and cultural knowledge of the island and Jane felt this knowledge should be shared.
Seeing some tourists coming to the island with guides from the coast, not always with accurate knowledge to convey, Jane suggested that some local young people should be trained to become local tour guides and that a local skills centre which she had supported from the onset should be used to provide training in providing goods and services for tourists.
Thus began her main aim of training Official Local Tour Guides recognised by the Gambia Tourism Board. She decided that setting up a charitable status would be advisable. It was to be a long task and finally achieved but since 2017 has been superceded by a much greater initiative through YEP Gambia which is chronicled elsewhere on this site.
Just Act Gambia became a recognised charity in early 2010. Just Act Gambia has developed through collaboration with the local community and developed varied initiatives in response to local needs.
Omar 'Jatto' Jammeh ~ Gambian Director
April 2022. On April 9th Omar Jatto Jammeh was elected as the Independent National Assembly Member (NAM) for Janjanbureh
Read here Thank You Blog
Omar Jammeh, born 1983, completed his studies at ITTOG, The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia in the Summer of 2010 and returned to Janjanbureh to take part in the initial training as a local tour guide set up by Just Act Gambia. It soon became evident that he was an outstanding student with great people skills.
He was also identified as a member of the JustAction team which was funded for three months that summer to carry through some of the early activities with Ousman Wula Bamba and Alieu Sowe
His ambitions have always been to see Janjanbureh develop through responsible tourism and to work with youths. His qualities have developed and been recognised over the years by anyone with whom he works and he is now heavily involved in many aspects of youth developments.
Just Act Gambia would no longer be existence without his skills leading a good core team of youths from the area.
"The love of my town and area means I want to see it develop through responsible tourism and share the town with visitors so the community benefits from their visits.
I see it as an opportunity to enable local youths to both serve their community and gain employment
encouraging them to stay in their hometown rather than migrating to the coast or abroad.
My experience in the field of tourism and youth development cannot be overemphasised.”
A sample of experiences
a series of training with Asset (now ASSERT) on the area of sustainable, responsible tourism and Eco-Tourism among other trends
participated in developing the current tourism curriculum of The Gambia, funded by the European Union in 2011.
2011 led groups of cruisers, VIP's from the US Embassy Banjul and other prominent officials on community tours around Janjanbureh telling the history and heritage of Janjanbureh
interviewed with leading media institutions like CNN on the history of Janjanbureh and its surroundings.
The video can be seen here. Go to 41 mins for Janjanbureh, 43 mins for Omar)
February 2015 led a group of 30 Gambian youths to Benin for training on Agro-Entrepreneurship for a period of six months, funded by UNDP.
elected as the Regional Youth Chairperson of the National Youth Council for Central River Region
National Youth Council member of The Gambia steering the affairs of the youths
attended a series of youth conferences, developing policies and reviews, influencing youth acts and developing youth resolutions at local, regional and through to National Youth Council
part of the National Organising Committee "Banjul+10" a continental youth conference, to help AU member states to review the youth charter that clock 10 years this year
represented JUST ACT at global conferences
responsible for leading the development of the first Kankurang Festival January 2018
core to the 2017/8 training of Tour Guides and Trainers of Trainers through YEP Gambia
Dave was on his way to Ghana travelling through a variety of West African countries to get there landing in Banjul airport, The Gambia to start his journey. Having stayed a few days at the coast he began his supposed long journey and travelled upriver staying overnight at Janjanbureh. He never travelled any further! Settling there and setting up his own social enterprise, Dave began to hear about Just Act Gambia and realised it reflected many of his own ideas. On return to the UK, he began to work with the charity for a while
becoming Director of the charity. With a Post-graduate certificate in sustainable development from Keele University, he developed many innovative ideas. Now living in The Gambia with his Gambian wife and two sons, Dave is developing his business enterprises being the owner and founder of Fair Play Gambia River Adventure, all supporting sustainable, responsible tourism activities. and frequently returning to Janjanbureh. As Chair of ASSERT he is a valuable link
Victoria visited the Three Counties Show in Malvern and came to Just Act Gambia's stall where she spoke to Dave Adams. Vic had always wanted to visit Africa but did not want to go through a tour company. Dave made arrangements for her and she first visited in February 2014, staying in a compound in Janjanbureh and experiencing the 'real Africa'. She soon volunteered to support the charity.
Vic is particularly interested in permaculture and in 2015 visited the island's three women's gardens.
Here she discovered that the women were spending many hours watering their plots because of damaged wells. She therefore immediately decided to raise funds by completing a swim across the River Gambia alongside possible hippos and crocs! This raised approximately £1000. It was later discovered that another charity, The Jersey Trust, had also raised funds for this and so the money was finally used for other purposes in the gardens.
Vic enabled another great project, The Aspar Tree Planting Project. Working for a pharmaceutical company, one of their suppliers, Aspar funded a pilot project to provide trees for compounds on the island. In pursuit of Vic's permaculture interests, she has recently spent two periods of several months travelling in India visiting many farms as a volunteer. On returning in June 2018 Dave Adams had decided to drive from the UK to The Gambia in his twenty-year-old camper van and Vic suddenly decided to join him, meeting him in Barcelona. She therefore has returned to The Gambia. Read about their extraordinary journey here
The residents of Janjanbureh and surrounding areas have few income earning opportunities
Janjanbureh has the opportunity to attract more tourists with bridge access on the north bank
A super Express service allows daily comfortable, affordable, and easy access from the coast
Funding from UNESCO built a museum and cultural centre - a Kankurang Centre, recognising that Janjanbureh is the cultural centre of the country
It has a rich history owing to past colonial influence
It is a haven for bird watchers
A unique, friendly island community who are happy to share their island with you
Involve the community in providing services for tourist — goods, guides, workshops, accommodation etc
Provide a simple Tourist Information Centre in the town
WHY 'WHY' is now of even greater importance
"I was in complete ignorance about irregular migration when I founded this charity. All I knew was that employment was difficult for youths however much they wished to work. Young men, in particular, are expected to provide for their families. It took me several years to realise that many youths were taking 'the back way' to seek a more ' golden future' in Europe, frequently encouraged and supported financially by their families. this often involved great sacrifices for the families, selling land etc. Previously the journey has been made successfully by some and they do send support back to their families. It is an inherent part of their Muslim faith to give and to support.
Some young people gain qualifications and are then able to find suitable work within the country.
The climate has changed and those that do manage even the journey north to the northern coasts of Africa
experience huge hardship.
They are then met by people traffickers and some make the perilous passage across the Mediterranean. Many do not.
The graph shows the statistics for 2016 of those reaching Italy and if you consider the population of The Gambia of just over as opposed to 2 053 094Sengal 15 581 362 (click links to update) you can see the high percentage.
Once in the asylum centres there is only a 33% chance of them then being granted asylum and the conditions they experience are extremely hard.
It is therefore even more imperative that Just Act Gambia supports
any development of increasing job opportunites."
The town with three names
Janjanbureh is on McCarthy Island in the River Gambia between approx 150 to 180 miles upriver depending on the road you take.
Its previous name was Georgetown and still called that by many.
Residents are Georgetonians.
The Gambia as seen from space in relationship to the UK. During most of the high season, November to March/April it means that there is no change in time
Here it is seen that The Gambia is a West African country surrounded by Senegal