The Gambia Epilepsy Association
The Gambia Epilepsy Association (GEA), was conceived out of the compassion the founding members had towards people with epilepsy found in dehumanizing conditions, either as neighbours or relations. The idea began in July 2002 and after a series of meetings and consultations, the association was registered by government of The Gambia, through her Attorney Generals chambers on 8th December, 2003 and thereafter signed a memorandum of understanding with Department of State for Health and Social Welfare in April 2004.
The association provides the following services:
- Advocating for the employment, education and social rights of people with epilepsy;
- Monitoring to ensure that medication prescribed to persons with epilepsy, is taken in accordance with the prescription (compliance);
- Guidance and counselling services for members, friends and families of people with epilepsy.
To date, the association has approximately 502 members, mainly people with epilepsy, and 7 non-paid volunteer staff. The 7 volunteer staff members are experienced personnel; as a result of the work they have been doing in the association over the years, they are equipped to conduct the proposed Promising Strategy Project.
The human rights issues that the association would like to protect for persons with epilepsy in The Gambia include:
- The rights to employment, education, and civil rights;
- The human right to learn an employment skill.
The program is targeted at 12 persons. At the end of the program, participants are expected to have acquired skills in tailoring, which they will put into practice for the purpose of making a meaningful living. Participants are expected to be self-reliant upon completing the program and to gain self-confidence.
The anticipated challenge that will be encountered is irregularity in attendance of the trainees for the various programs, which might arise from unexpected seizures due to improper taking of medication. However, with our team of experience personnel, the trainees will be monitored on a daily basis in collaboration with the trainers to ensure regularity and proper understanding of skills learnt.
The objectives of the program include;
- Advocacy for employment /education/civil rights of people with epilepsy. In order to achieve this objective, the association will liaise with the Ombudsman Office. In addition, an awareness seminar will be held for employers on facts about epilepsy.
- To empower people with epilepsy to become self reliant. The association will work to obtain the admission for 12 of its members into different vocational institutions, and thereafter place a supervisory team for each training center, to ensure that the participants acquire the expected skills during the period of training.
All volunteer staff will meet twice a month during the period of training to analyze and assess the progress of each participant. During this analysis, a report on each participant will be critically examined to ensure that the expected skill is dully acquired. If it is discovered that participants did not properly understand the skills being taught, the factors that hindered that understanding will be analyzed and addressed.
The association has 7 non-paid volunteer staff with vast experience as a result of their involvement in handling projects on epilepsy over the years. The volunteer staff and their responsibilities are as follows:
- Mrs. Rita Harding, President and Chief Executive Officer.
- Mrs. Mary Sanneh, Vice President and Accountant.
- Philip Chiga, Program Manager with the role to initiate and implement activities and programs.
- Paul Colley, Public Relation Officer with the role to disseminate the associations information.
- Samson Okoye, Administrative Manager with the role to keep records of the associations transactions and to keep minutes of meetings.
- David Orimogunje, Field Supervisor has the role to supervise and monitor cases of people with epilepsy that have being identified.
- Lamin Nyabally, Administrative Officer has the role to carry out secretarial work and other activities as may be assigned by the president.
Each of the above persons will devote a minimum of 2 hours daily, excluding weekends, to the program.
Other organizations that will partner with us in this program include:
- National Youth Service Scheme
- Women Enterprises
- Bundung Vocational school