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(MEHDA) Mennonite Educational & Horticultural Development Associates, Gambia
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Contact Address Details:

Mennonite Educational & Horticultural
Development Associates

Banjul area head office
Website:

Pirang Village
PO Box 5079 Brikama
Kombo East, Western Region
The Gambia, West Africa

Tel no: +220 4487210
                    
Email: berylforrester@yahoo.com
 



Branches:
1
 

Information:
MEHDA is a Banjul registered, Christian NGO who work as development aid missionaries in Pirang Village and are part of the Mennonite Churches of The Gambia. The grassroots charity efforts are focused around community crop gardening, child education, adult literacy, fair trade craft schemes, health & nutrition, family care and small scale peri-urban projects.


Areas of Intervention & Projects:
Agriculture & Food
The MEHDA farm and training facility in Pirang Village was established in Gambia in 2003 when it began growing crops and cultivating fruit trees. The organisation's over-riding agricultural goal is to ensure long-term, self-sufficient food security for the villagers.

The farm's activities centre around vegetable seed distribution at cost price to farmers, cuttings and seedling production, grafting of fruit trees, research into indigenous vegetation such as the fast growing Neem tree and local natural resources. The gardens also try out novel plants such as cultivating Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L) as an alternative food and cash crop for local Jola women farmers.

The mission has also put efforts towards teaching women food preservation techniques for vegetables and fruits. These foods go a long way to providing adequate nourishment during the period when most farmers have depleted most of their previous harvest. During the Gambian rainy season crops such as tomatoes and fruits such as mangos are grown in relative abundance and much of it goes to waste through lack of preservation. Producing tomato puree has been one idea put forward.

The MEHDA mission has also taken part in rural tree planting exercises around the village planting forest trees such as beechwood (Gmelina arborea) and Mahogany in an effort to increase biodiversity and fight desertification and soil erosion.

It also carries out fishing programmes and provides some veterinary treatments such as pig vaccinations for non-Muslim farmers.

Males cultivate cassava, millet, and groundnuts.

MEHDA Good Shepherd Nursery School


MY Sister's Company
This is a craft based, fair-trade women's cooperative in Gambia. Its members produce various items made from locally available natural materials in Pirang and export them overseas or sell them to tourist visitors.

Among these homemade items are jewellery such as earrings made from coconuts, shells, soda cans, necklaces made from fabric bead & seed, dyed fish bones, fabric knot, butterfly necklace, small & large Cowhorn bracelets, head gear such as crochet hats, ear warmers, headbands as well as scarves, purses, knot bags, lined bags, eco-bags, pillow covers, placemats, aprons, skirts, and tie and dye fabric.

The long-term view is for the women to operate the business for themselves as a self-sustaining enterprise. Before this can be possible there is an adult literacy program which teaches illiterate women to read and write.

Solar
The Mennonite Educational & Horticultural Development Associates have initiated a number of projects focused on utilising solar energy for crop irrigation using pumps, solar stoves and ovens for domestic cooking.

Eco-Tourism & Bird Watching
MEHDA is ideally located near fields skirting the Pirang Forest National Park, Faraba Banta and the Pirang Shrimp Farm which are in an important bird site of The Gambia. The association provides the seating and sunshades and you bring along you own binoculars and other equipment.

Lodgings
The MEHDA Guesthouse has accommodation for up to 4 people and has a kitchen, dining room and bedrooms. They also serve meals and drinks.

Kayira Dorong Dining Centre
This is a small restaurant in Pirang Village which was started by MEHDA in 2006 serving eco-tourists and birdwatchers during the tourist season. The community development initiative has a staff of 5 women who use a gas cooker and fridge to serve African meals while maintaining good standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Their food is served at all meal times of breakfast, lunch and dinner.













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