Go Gambia: Study Tour 3 begins

On Saturday 31 March our 5 Gambia Ambassadors (Sharon Rourke, Jemma Hargreaves, Justine Millington, Janette Smith, Darren Forshaw), led by Peter Waller-Flynn, Director of People and Communications and Salifu Manneh, Mobee Gambia Director, departed from the UK for the smiling coast of West Africa.

Working in partnership with Mobee Gambia, Ambassadors on Study Tour 3 will have a great opportunity to share community living and learn from experiences of mental health services in the Gambia.

Follow the group’s life changing 10 day journey on their group blog, below or alternatively head over to our social media channels to keep up to date with their latest adventures  – Facebook (AFGSupport) and Twitter (@AFGSupport #AFGgoGambia).

Follow the journey

Saturday 29 March

Ready, Steady, Go Gambia

Ready, Steady, Go Gambia

We all met at the airport, full of excitement and apprehension about our journey into the unknown.

It was a long flight but we arrived to an amazing welcome from the Mobee Gambia Team.

We got ourselves settled and talked until late, getting to know the team.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Sunday 30 March

We spent the day acclimatising and getting to know the local people. French and Mandinka are the local languages, and the Ambassadors have already learnt a few words of each language.

Today we all had a great opportunity to attend a local wedding. It was colourful, vibrant with very good music to say the least!

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Monday 31 March

Mobee logo

Today was the first day of our placements and we were all surprised at how resourceful they were, despite very little financial support. Whilst basic, the culture across the services is very positive and friendly. Much time today was spent promoting Mobee Gambia’s key messages to officials in Serekunda and Banjul.

The purpose of Mobee Gambia is:

  • To raise awareness of the worldwide mental health condition in partnership with AFG and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • To deliver  social interventions, through education, training and sign posting.
  • To work directly with  families to develop understanding and skills, so they may support family members with mental health and wellbeing in local communities.
  • To work alongside partners to support developments in mental health and wellbeing in Gambia.
  • To identify , share and develop tools and techniques to assess signs and symptoms of depression.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Tuesday 1 April

Today has been a very eventful day for us all. Some of us were actively involved in diagnosing malaria and other conditions, whilst another group visited Tanka Tanka Hospital to assist a British national in being repatriated after a wrong diagnosis.

Meanwhile at the Poly Clinic, both Jemma and Sharon helped the Cuban doctors overcome their language barriers.

Today we experienced our first bout of sickness and diarrhoea, but we’re coping well with it.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Wednesday 2 April

It’s a day of rest for us as we eagerly await the arrival of Neil Campbell, AFG Chief Executive. Neil is planning to spend the evening with AFG and Mobee Gambia staff.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Thursday 3 April

All smiles with Salifu, Mobee Gambia Director

All smiles with Salifu, Mobee Gambia Director

It’s been a very productive day and here are some of our key outcomes:

  • Tanka Tanka Hospital have been provided with a radio to promote a more therapeutic environment after really enjoying Darren’s music.
  • The British man we saw on Tuesday has seen a consultant today, and his discharge is planned for tomorrow.
  • Birkama Health Centre saw a large number of people presenting different conditions today, and the centre were very effective in treating them promptly. One difficult situation involved the death of a baby, but the centre was very prompt and precise in gathering the information, and involving the police.
  • Justine and Peter were shown around the maternity unit at the Sekuta Health Centre today and they were impressed with the follow up, and vaccination service available. Infection prevention information was displayed clearly and detailed the recent outbreak of Ebola, which was only established 2 days go. Justine was also able to give some advice to a nurse sister on a mental health condition, which was greatly appreciated.

All in all it’s been a very good day!

Neil has an extremely busy schedule where he will be visiting the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and Social Care on Thursday, along with visits to meet the Director of Medical Services and the Director or Social Services.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Tuesday 8 April

Janette with Mobee Gambia staff

Janette with Mobee Gambia staff

Darren and Sharon were on placement at the Serekuna Health Centre today. They were very impressed with how many staff members considered the effects of illness on mental health.

Patients at the clinic with high blood pressure, caused by stress, were encouraged to talk about their problems with family, friends or staff.

The clinic was another good example of how the Gambian health workers manage a busy facility with good outcomes.

The staff were very happy with the support they received from Mobee Gambia and communicated this often.

Peter and Janette continued their placement at Tanka Tanka Hospital today. Janette worked in the occupational therapy room, engaging patients in an arts and crafts session. She used her experience of working with people with challenging behaviours to support an individual make some jewellery pieces.

Peter spent the day observing in the admissions department. He noticed how hard working the staff members were against some quite challenging experiences. Despite feeling quite emotional at times, Peter enjoyed interacting with the patients. Mobee Gambia and AFG have donated a radio to the hospital today, which will enable the patients to enjoy some music during their stay.

Neil, AFG Chief Executive and Salifu, Mobee Gambia Director, met the speaker of the house today, who was very supportive of our work – he even prayed for us.

We’ve been busy planning the signing of the memorandum of association, which will be a big, positive step for Mobee Gambia.

Neil and Salifu have both had a positive day in terms of raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health, with a view to training some officials from the Gambian government.

The authorities were surprised by the kindness and generosity of AFG.

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors  

Wednesday 9 April – Our reflections on the last day

A journey

We are all just humans
Together in one world

Different cultures
Different beliefs
Different lifestyles

A shared desire to do good

Experience the differences
Embrace the emotions
Be together in the unknown 

Open the gates, share the journey

Peter, Salifu and the 5 AFG Gambia Ambassadors