We attended another KOMFFORA meeting a couple weeks ago, and it went well. The meeting was better than expected. Mike, another volunteer, was granted citizenship of his village and presented money to KOMFFORA, from his village – it was great, everyone clapped and his picture was taken. Later in the meeting, two elderly women barged in the building, greeted everyone and shook hands with everyone there, then asked where lunch was and left. At the end of the meeting, a women named Binta sitting next to me talked about how KOMFFORA had helped her start a knitting business and thanked them because she was doing well because of it. She showed us all a sample and then gave it to me! It was so sweet.
Our program managers came to our site. It was a good visit; they told us to keep up our good work, showed us how to plant mango seeds, and talked to our village people about us. They told us our villagers said that they were very happy with us and that they considered us to be one of them. Later, they told us they want to grant us citizenship. All of you are most welcome to come out to our 2nd house on the river ;) – in The Gambia!
We also went on a trek with KOMFFORA to seven surrounding villages. It was very hard, a bike trek in which we were the only ones biking! But beneficial because we met with villages and learned about problems and work possibilities. We also learned more about KOMFFORA and its leaders.
One of the founders has a hard story. He is educated and managed to get a green card to work in the U.S. But, he didn’t have the money to go so he moved to Libya to work and save up enough money. Once he had managed to do so, his green card expired so he moved back here and worked for an American company and tried to re-apply. While waiting, some political turmoil between the Libyan government caused the banks to close (?), and he lost all the money he was saving because it was still in that Libyan bank account. He started this NGO about 12 years ago when seven communities came to him about their community forests so he started this NGO to help them manage the forests. He has a full time job and does this NGO as a side project.