PO Box 5079 Brikama
The Gambia, West Africa
Tel no: +220 4487210
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
Areas of Intervention & Projects:
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
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
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
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.
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