By Amie Sanneh
Dalema Foundation, a child welfare organization that seeks to support the development and growth of orphan children was launched on Saturday, 13 August, 2016. The launching was held at a local hotel in Bijilo.
Speaking on the occasion, the Coordinator of the Child Protection Alliance, Njundu Drammeh who officially launched the foundation, said childhood is the most important moment in a person’s life and if one loses it, he or she loses everything. He noted that parents are the first line of defence for the child and if the parents are not there, the child is exposed to vulnerability. Drammeh added that without any support given to the child, that child would not succeed. According to him, people need foundations like Dalema to support children. “Something which is free but priceless is putting a smile on the face of a child,” remarked Drammeh. Investing in children he said is a favour that parents are doing for themselves as they will be preparing the child for the future and the child will in turn support them when they get old. While welcoming Dalema to the NGO world, he told them that not every thing is rosy in the field.
He described trust as the solid ground of everything and when they able to maintain the trust and confidence of donors, they will succeed which can be done if they are competent. He told them that if they lose their credibility in the NGO world, they will lose their honour.
He however called on people to support the foundation to enable them support the children.
Abdourahman Bah from the Justice Ministry described NGOs as partners to socio -economic development thus complimenting the effort of government. According to him, government may not be able to play certain roles and it is there that NGOs come in to help government were they do not have the resources and finance. Bah added NGOs have significant role to play in society and as citizens, they should support those who are coming up with such organisations as they deal with areas which are neglected.
Bridjet Correa from Action Aid described an orphan as a child whose parents are dead. “There is nothing more psychologically traumatizing for a child than to be deprived of parental love, care, nurture and above all security and protection by the untimely death parents,” she said. She noted that children without proper adult care are more likely to be abused and exploited. According to her, every child has the right to protection, healthcare, education and lifelong opportunities in order to be empowered and not to be exposed to hostile conditions. “Therefore partners especially those working with children should ensure that Gambian children, especially orphans are given the best chance for survival, development and protection,” she said. She called for the collective effort of young people, parents, community and religious leaders to facilitate children’s empowerment and give them the ability to take charge of their own development.
Sheikh Omar Jallow, Director National Centre for Arts and Culture said Dalema is focusing in an area that government is not doing much investment into. He said an orphan is not only about someone who loses a mother or father. Technically, he believes that someone who does not have parental care and is particularly in need of parental care is an orphan. He added that an abandon child is also an orphan.He said orphanage traumatize young people and children. Jallow advised Dalema that as they will be raising money in the name of the orphans, they should make sure that their children and members do not benefit from it as it is not meant for them but the orphans. He said if they do that they will be doing the right thing.
Barrister Ayub Johnny Njie said it takes empathy, sacrifice, selflessness, humility and hope to be able to look after and care for the orphans.
Giving a brief history of the foundation, Ekun-Dayoh M.S. Dago, founder of Dalema Foundation said his foundation was founded in 2015 and formally registered in 2016 as a non-profit making organization in The Gambia. He said Dalema seeks to protect children from injustice, inequality and discrimination. According to him, they intend to achieve this goal through sensitization, partnership and networking within the Gambia and beyond. Dago added that they support vulnerable children especially orphans in various ways such as educational opportunities amongst others.