BIKERS RAISE FUNDS FOR ‘CARAVAN OF MERCY’ PROJECTS

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By Omar Bah

Caravan of Mercy, a charity and NGO Saturday commenced its fundraising bike challenge from Barra with 20 UK-based cyclists taking part to raise funds to support projects implemented by the charity.

The 247-kilometre ride is expected to last for four days from Barra to Kuntaur.

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The cyclists are targeting to raise some £75,000 for the NGO which has through the same fundraising built a ten-classroom school in Serekundanding village, fitted with a computer lab, store, office, and toilets, powered by solar system.

Speaking to The Standard, international coordinator of Caravan of Merc,y Moulana Ebrahim, said the NGO has been operating in The Gambia for the past 18 years.

“This is our second bike challenge raising funds to implement projects in The Gambia. The first one was held in 2019 and that was a huge success but we could not do it in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic,” he said.

He explained that the cyclists will have their first stop at Madina Manneh where they will visit a school supported by the NGO and then proceed to Njaba Kunda for a night stop, distributing food and engaging in sporting activities with the locals.

“We will then proceed to Ngayen Sanjal for another night stop and food distribution and then Njoben, completing the challenge in Kuntaur where we have an islamic boarding school where education is offered free. So we are targeting 60 kilometres per day,” he added.

He said the NGO also supports widows and conducts Ramadan food distribution.

“We are starting a new project where we will give widows financial support of between D8,000 to D10,000 to enable them to start sustainable businesses to save them from begging for food in the streets. We also support needy Gambians in the area of medical support during our visit,” he added.

The NGO, he added, is also operating in Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Syria, Yemen, India and Bangladesh. 

Pa Modou Sillah, desk overseas coordinator for Caravan of Mercy in The Gambia said the bike challenge is targeting £75,000  out of which £59,000 has already been raised. “And we are not even halfway so we are expecting more,” he said.

Sillah said he started the NGO on his own when he was an expatriate teacher in Bermuda, a British overseas territory.

“I started sponsoring three children, then it was increased to 12 and later our teachers union in Bermuda also donated me some money so that year we supported about 45 children in rural Gambia,” he said.

Sillah said he came to know Moulana Ebrahim when he moved to England.

“When we met we proposed to work together starting with Ramadan food distribution after which we attracted more donors from England and now we have built three Islamic schools where we teach mathematics, science, English and social studies. We also provide boreholes for communities in the provinces,” he said.