The Gambia High Commission delegation met the Gambia Christian Community of Birmingham and The Black-Country last Saturday at their Holy Communion gathering.
In his address, the High Commission’s current Charge d’Affaires, Hon. Sulayman Suntou Touray stressed the immense contributions of the Christian Community in the Gambia; especially in the field of education, charitable endeavours, public service and other human development.
Through its President Ms Anna Bassen, the Charge d’Affaires, praised the organisation’s members for their law abiding and dedication to community service.
He thanked community leaders Micheal Ngum and Francis Prom for honouring their invitation; and twelve members of the Christian Community were awarded a certificate of recognition for their service to the Gambian community in the U.K.
Several diaspora organisations and personalities were also awarded certificates of recognition for their community service and promoting a positive image of The Gambia in the field of culture, religion and youth engagement.
Touray applauded the organisations for being vibrant and industrious: “The leaders of these communities have tremendously worked hard to make the dreams of establishing faith and community centres a reality. A cohesive community is a peaceful community because the future of children and youths of Gambian heritage depend on how the community is organised and managed.”
He believes the centres’ catering for the Cultural, Spiritual and Material well-being of their community will build the components that form the bedrock of a strong community resulting in having a sound Gambian establishment in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Touray extended greetings of His Excellency President Adama Barrow and his government to Gambian diasporans.
He said the Gambia is unlike oil-rich countries that built mosques, cultural centres for their diasporan communities.
“Since the Gambia is not rich in oil, gas, minerals and other natural resources, the resources that are needed to enhance diaspora smooth integration are left at the hands of community organisations,” he added.
Touray disclosed that the Diaspora Directorate under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with Embassies and diaspora associations would design government policies that meet diaspora needs.
He praised Gambians in diaspora for being valuable human resources that are always dependable and reliable in alleviating the daily struggles of Gambians at home.
Gambian diaspora worldwide, he said, remitted over $700 million in 2021, equivalent to 45% of the country’s GDP.
Mr Touray called on diasporans to be positive in dealing with their government. He proposes a ‘diaspora giveback scheme’ that will allow the government to tap into a portion of remittance residues and give back to diaspora community organisations to create amenities for the young people.
He said the Mission’s outreach programme aims “to fraternise and share experiences with Gambians on tremendous achievements and to discuss ways of dealing with the many challenges within the respective communities. We are having a growing young population which is why community centres are vital to avert youths from falling on the wrong tracks.”
Mr. Touray provided harrowing statistics of youths of Gambian heritage who had become victims of tragedies in the U.K.
He said in 2019 and 2020, six young Gambians fatally died in the U.K. Of these victims, four were murdered, three knife attacked and one shot dead. Two others died as a result of self-affliction.
Speaking to the various groups, Mr. Touray describes parenting as the greatest challenge facing Gambian communities in the diaspora.
“The High Commission is in receipt of many cases of child custody battles between Gambian parents and the various U.K Social Services. The High Commission is aware of over 30 children of Gambian heritage that were taken away from their parents. In some cases, children are placed with foster parents with different religious and cultural backgrounds. The Local Authority Councils are mainly concerned about providing available, safest foster homes for displaced children. It is a sad state of affairs seeing children brought up away from their birth parents,” he said.
Diplomat Touray called on Gambian parents “to learn to become the best friends of their children and provide a safe habitat, look after their welfare and always open positive lines of communications. As the U.K. has strict child protection laws, parents must be aware of the family laws that forbid hitting, beating or threatening children.”
On behalf of the President Adama Barrow and the government, Mr. Touray applauded Imams Baba Jaiteh, Imam Ibrahim Bah, Imam Dawda Jallow, Imam Sainey Darboe, Mr Lamin Yaffa, Mr Ansumana Barrow, Fabakary Touray, Lamin Sonko and Ousamn Njie for not “deselecting” in their duty.
The Mission had earlier interacted with the Gambia Islamic and Cultural Associations and a prominent community leader.
The Gambia High Commission completed the second phase of its community outreach programme dubbed ‘Community Diplomacy’ on the 18th June 2022.
The High Commission will extend the Community Diplomacy outreach to more cities in the U.K.
Source: The Gambia High Commission in London, United Kingdom
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