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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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CorpsAfrica swears in first cohort of volunteers

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By Oumie Bojang

CorpsAfrica, an international non-governmental, community led international organisation that’s focused on training young African leaders into community volunteers for a year and deploying them into rural, high poverty communities to facilitate high impact, small-scale projects identified by the people. CorpsAfrica seeks to promote a culture of public service in Africa by giving participants the opportunity to apply their education, skills and energy toward helping their fellow citizens overcome poverty.

Speaking, Adama Bah, board chairman advised volunteers, saying volunteering is not just for them to give their time doing selfless activities to help others; it has a greater impact than that, it nurtures the spirit of giving after receiving so much from their parents, friends, family and the society at large.

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He added that volunteerism brings developments to one’s own development, knowing their country better, makes them grow into valuable members of the society, makes them develop their life skills as they get to know circumstances outside their comfort zone, makes them a better person by appreciating life and value more what they have. In The Gambia unfortunately the young generation have not developed the traditional sense of giving back to the community, the ‘yeriwa kafoo’ mentality is dying, for some reason the country is overtaken by the cash economy, for everything cash is king. We the elders failed in our responsibility t0o

“You have been to Universities and are knowledgeable in academic learning, you can analyse and arrange your thoughts in a logical manner, but do not for once think you are better than the people you are meant to serve. When you serve you are a servant not a master, respect women especially vulnerable women, this is important for your image and that of the organisation, If you give more than you take we can build a better world.”

Foday Bojang ,the country director said the first CorpsAfrica operation started in Morocco with 9 volunteers, founded by Ms Lizz Faniz a former American Peace corps volunteer who resigned from her job to start the organisation. The organisation has since expanded to include 9 countries namely: Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda Ethiopia and last year The Gambia. However CorpsAfrica plans to cover all 55 counties of the African Union. The Gambian office opened in September, started operation and incorporated as an NGO in November 2023. CorpsAfrica proceeded to recruit support staff and potential volunteers, to provide support for the much needed community base development to be undertaken in the country in collaboration with development partners from government agencies, CSOs, NGOs, the private sector and most importantly the local communities.

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“We will work with these agencies to deliver on our respective and mutually reinforcing our agenda and objective. CorpsAfrica works on different developmental fronts which it terms as initiatives, we have a CorpsAfrica black initiative this provides and strengthen local groups especially women and girls with financial skills for development projects, CorpsAfrica blue this focuses on finding solutions to water related problems in rural communities, including enhancing energy efficiency and sustainable energy resources that increase access for water developing the blue economy, improving sanitation and hygiene. CorpsAfrica green is an environment focused initiative that empowers volunteers to recognise the effects of climate change in their communities, learn how the communities are adapting and supporting projects in their communities to build resilience, protect natural resources and improve quality of life. CorpsAfrica pink provides women and girls the opportunity to fulfill their potential within their communities. While CorpsAfrica purples ensures that it actively recruits people with disabilities, to serve as volunteers and that all volunteers are trained on issues affecting a wide range of disabilities, to engage people with disabilities in their communities activities. This is to ensure inclusion and development of persons with disabilities by helping them secure high quality jobs and work with relevant development partners to ensure social protection systems and measures. Furthermore, CorpsAfrica red for finding solutions to health issues and access to basic medical care in remote rural communities, building and equipping health clinics, facilitating medical health insurance and educating young women and girls on sexual and reproductive health. Finally, CorpsAfrica silver for IT and technical skills for communities to reduce the digital gap between rural areas in Africa to accelerate social innovation and development.”

Kemo Fatty, executive director Greenup Gambia, said in 2012 nearly 8000 Gambians sought asylum in Italy, half of whom finished university and left the country. “We have been trying to remodel the development to enable us to give the best to our communities in the simplest ways. Before CorpsAfrica’s establishment, I fell in love with the Peace Corps operations for so long because anytime I walk into these communities I realise that every young person’s dream is to extradite themselves so that they can send remittances, and then I see someone from the US staying, serving, and helping our people with basic needs. As a dreamer I continue to pursue them and always volunteer to draft mega projects, but there’s always a resistance to million dollar projects, they are only willing to give something small and sustainable that can be done in the compounds, garden, backyard, within a school premises or the back of a hospital. This serves as an eye opener for me, our work at green up Gambia related to a Pan-African vision called the great Green Wall, and now we will not be drafting projects for communities. Visiting, listening and understanding their problem from the ground up will give some kind of authenticity in what you’re doing,” he concluded.

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