Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tilly’s Tours’ Sam-Mbollet GLOVE Project in Crisis


Manager Declines to Comment
Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The North Bank Evening Standard has gathered that the people of Sam-Mbollet Village in the Lower Niumi District has accused Tilly’s Tours, a Ground Tour Operator
in The Gambia of exploiting Sam-Mbollet Villagers, as its Manager is said to be
bent on amassing wealth for herself in the name of projects initiated for the
village.

The Mobiliser of Works for the GLOVE Project, Alhagie S. Joof told our News Editor that the funds which were donated to the Village of Sam-Mbollet through the GLOVE Project, initiated by Tilly’s Tours Manager,
Jakie Church, have not been seen to have been put in the cause for which it was
meant for.

“The amount of money that has been said to have been donated to the village does not reflect the progress of work in the various initiatives that are on the ground,” Mr. Joof said.

However, he revealed that some of the donors to the GLOVE Project have been notifying them of their donations, among whom are Mrs. Esther Shortt (500 pounds), Gill and Garry (700 pounds), Bani, a Spanish Lady (1500
euros), a Swedish man (name not given) also donated D25, 000.

According to him, a white lady went to the extent of jumping from an aero plane in order to raise funds for the village. This lady, whose name he could not tell also donated D70, 000 to Sam-Mbollet village.

“These are the few donations we are aware of and when we questioned the people handling the funds of the GLOVE Project as to how much money has been donated to the village, we were told that they (the initiators)
are not answerable to us,” he explained. “All the funds we heard that are said
to have been donated to the village, not even a quarter of it has been spent on
the projects,” Mr. Joof lamented.

Mr. Joof, who is also the Youth Leader and the Focal Point of the GLOVE Project at Sam-Mbollet, said that initiatives that were to be carried out in the project include a Community Centre, Health centre, a Nursery
School, a Community Farm or Garden, the provision of Safe Drinking Water, a
Poultry Farm, a Milling Machine, and an Irrigation System that will work all
year round.

Mr. Joof explained that the Jakie Church, the Founder of the GLOVE Project started with the construction of a Community Centre in 2007, which he said has not been completed. The Garden has not been
properly fenced, six roles of barbed wires were bought by the project initiator
(Jakie Church) but to their dismay, the barbed
wire was not enough to complete the fencing of the garden not to talk of having
enough nails.

He added Jakie, only spent D500 to dig two local wells, which according to him do not even have enough water to meet the amount of water needed to serve the crops.

“She brought a tank that can contain up to 2000 litres when the wells cannot even produce 1000 litres,” he lamented. He also noted that the villagers did start working in the garden but for the fact that the garden was
prone to animal activities they (the villagers) bought two roles of barbed wire
and nails but it didn’t stop the animals from tampering with the crops.

According to him, the villagers were tasked with the responsibility of cutting the sticks that have been used to fence the garden, alleging that Jakie and Co. were only after
their own interest and not the welfare of the villagers.

For the Milling Machine, he said that it is not good because it wasn’t new when it was brought to the village. For the Safe Drinking Water initiative, he noted that not even a quarter of it has been completed, while
the Poultry Farm and the Health Centre never started.

“The nursery school is almost ready because it is not coordinated by them anymore,” he said.

Mr. Joof also argued that when Jakie and Co. were on the verge of going away with the village’s money, they started criticising the villagers, saying that they are not hard working
and that they are having problems within themselves, allegations he denied.

According to him, the project initiators wanted to leave and that was why they were fabricating what he called ‘untrue stories’. “We demanded that they surrender the money that was earned in the name of the
village before going to another village, but they refused,” he said.

For him, Jakie Church is being aided by what he called ‘unpatriotic citizens’ to exploit their own people, which he
argued the people of Sam-Mbollet village will not tolerate.

On his part, the Alkalo of Sam-Mbollet Village, Alhagie Njack Joof also echoed similar sentiments, adding that the women in the village cannot do anything at the garden because there is not enough water and that the
activities of animals added more to the challenges they are facing.

According to Alkalo Joof, not even the people who were or are working with the GLOVE Project can tell what or how the said money has been spent.

For Imam Cherno Sowe of Sam-Mbollet Village, the villagers at some point spent D8000 to repair the milling machine, as he puts it ‘the machine is not that good’.

He also told this paper that they don’t know why the initiators of the GLOVE Project decided to leave, however, he noted that they (initiators) went to the extent of reporting the village to the Seyfo of Lower
Niumi
and the Commissioner of the North Bank Region.

According to him, the Seyfo once called the two parties (GLOVE Project initiators and the villagers) in order to settle the problem amicably. Imam Sowe noted that an agreement was reached between both parties
and the Project Initiators agreed to continue with the project, but since then
the villagers never heard from them.

On allegations that the relationship between the Imam and the Alkalo not being cordial and that the villagers are not in good terms within themselves, Cherno Sowe argued that the accusation is not true and is
unfounded.

“We have no disagreements whatsoever, we are all in good terms and all villagers are working hand-in-glove in all aspects,” he stressed.

The GLOVE Project was initiated in 2007 and Sam-Mbollet was the first village identified by the Tilly’s Tours Manager for the beginning of the project. VOL:3 ISSN:102


Editor’s Note: The North Bank Evening Standard contacted Jakie Church to get her side of the story, but she decline to comment.

We received a call from supposedly one of the workers at Tilly’s Tours a day after, notifying us that Jakie is taking up the issue with her lawyer and
would not want to speak to the media at the moment.

In our efforts to give a balanced story, our news editor did visit her office at Senegambia on two occasions but was told that the Manager is not in, while efforts to get her on phone also proofs futile as
her phone rings endlessly without anybody picking it up.

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