“The best resource for any meaningful development is available and willing human resource.” – Yankuba A. Bojang
It has now been three months since I landed in The Gambia. So far, it has been three months of discovery, learning, unlearning, ups and downs; but mostly it has been three months filled with laughter and tears shared with friends, that have made living miles away from home feel like a home away from home.
Working with NSGA I have had the pleasure to meet Yankuba Bojang, who I have now the pleasure to call suma mag bu gor, Wolof for “my big brother”.
Yankuba has been one of the first people here to warmly welcome us, inviting us to our first Gambian cultural event the first week Krystal and I arrived.
Yankuba is not only a community health trainer but also a community-oriented individual who, beyond NSGA, works for the development of youth and his community at large.
I had the chance to sit down with Yankuba.
But first, what is NSGA?
The Gambian branch of the Nova Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA) is a Banjul registered NGO working at the grassroots level to provideprogrammes in health and education alike. NSGA’s programmes aim to promote such topics are healthy life skills, leadership, and health awareness, as well as to promote ideas of equal rights for all community members.
Country-wide peer health education is one of the central ways the NSGA disseminates health information across Gambian communities.
What is peer health education?
Peer health education refers to the process whereby trained young people undertake informal (or formal) educational activities with their peers (those similar to themselves in age, background, or interests). Occurring over an extended period of time, peer health education is aimed at developing young people’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills about various health topics thus enabling them to be make informed decisions regarding their health and safety.
Why peer health education?
Peer health education is community based and avoids hierarchical, top-down approaches to development and health education. This approach allows young people from similar backgrounds to discuss sensitive and taboo subjects in ways authoritative figures like parents or elders often aren’t quite able to.
Now, who is Yankuba?
Yankuba is currently serving as a community development practitioner and health trainer for NSGA.
A: What is your role as a health trainer and regional coordinator?
Y: My role is to coordinate all programs and activities of NSGA in my assigned region which entails empowering community members, especially the youth by providing them with health information and motivating them to share these information with their peers and community members at large. I also work with and as well supervise the work of the NSGA drama team assigned to my region. Lastly, I serve as a representative of to various partners at the regional level and finally, write monthly reports of all activities and report to the head office.
A: How has NSGA impacted your life and those around you?
Y: NSGA has impacted a sense of self-determination for development. It has helped me make informed choices in my life especially regarding sex and it has also helped me see women as equal partners in building a family and the community at large.
A: What is the most important thing you learned working for NSGA?
Y: Learning how to develop, write and direct a play/drama based on the development needs of people. This has helped me to see development from a different angle and realize that the best resource for any meaningful development is available and willing human resource.
A: What makes peer health education effective?
Y: Its approach towards information sharing using peers to reach out other peers.
Peer health education makes discussions about sensitive issues like reproductive health or sexuality less sensitive to talk about.
A: What other community initiatives are you involved with, outside of NSGA?
Y: I am involved in the development of community soccer teams for both boys and girls called Solar. I am also involved in supporting a local youth NGO called Niumi Foundation Youth Association (NiFo) geared towards developing music and agricultural skills of young people allowing them to take a lead in their own life and as well as helping them address their communities’ food production needs.
To learn more about NSGA, check out their Facebook page and website: http://novascotiagambia.ca https://www.facebook.com/novascotiagambia
Aurore Iradukunda is working as a Health Promotion Intern with Nova Scotia Gambia Association in Gambia.