Contact Address Details:
Mennonite Educational & Horticultural
Banjul area head office
PO Box 5079 Brikama
Kombo East, Western Region
The Gambia, West Africa
Tel no: +220 4487210
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.
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.
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.