Dick Sisman, Serenity Holiday’s sustainable tourism advisor and an industry expert has started a new and exciting initiative based in The Gambia. With his help we are offering you the opportunity to donate a stove to a Gambian family for just £20.
Over the years Dick has developed sustainable projects funded by carbon offset contributions from customers including our current Community Tree Planting and Mayan Turbo Stove schemes. Now as appreciation for all of the years of enjoyment he has had in The Gambia, Dick has set up at longer term community stove programme where customers and friends of The Gambia Experience are given the opportunity to sponsor an alternative fuel stove as a present for either a family they know or one selected on the basis of restricted income.
Through the community stoves programme each stove bought will replace the more traditional 3 stone fires with one of three newly designed alternative fuel stoves.
This brings many benefits
Each present will consist of the most appropriate new stove design for particular circumstances; an initial supply of 10kg of fuel and personal training by one of the programmes staff in use and maintenance. The cost per gift is £20 or 800 dalasi and this can be paid either in the UK or in The Gambia. Every donor will receive an acknowledgement and a digital photograph of the stove recipient as well as Dick’s personal guarantee is that every payment will result in a stove and fuel being supplied to a family in The Gambia.
If, like Dick, you do want to provide help to families who would benefit greatly from a relatively low priced practical and life improving gift then in the first instance contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively if you wish to place an order when in The Gambia contact Fanna Njie, Gambia Community Stoves sales executive on 7703041.
Our sustainable tourism guru Dick Sisman tells us how he fell for The Gambia and how his Mayan Stove project is helping him to ‘give something back’ to the country he loves.
"During the past 25 years as the main tourism industry advisor on sustainable tourism I visited over 60 different countries around the World, working with tour operators and others to develop sustainable tourism strategies and projects. One destination I visited often in this time was The Gambia.
My first visit was organized by the owners of Gambia Experience and my brief was to advise the company about how they could best engage with local communities and make changes within the company to make their business more sustainable. Now, many years later Gambia Experience, through their group operation Serenity Holidays, are the proud recipients of a 5 star (the highest) sustainable tourism award by their industry association AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators).
My long association with The Gambia and Gambia Experience has enabled me to get to know many people in The Gambia and I have made many friends. The Gambia is not a rich country in terms of money or material wealth but is rich in many other ways. The strength of extended families, which is lost in much of Western Europe, a respect for age and experience and a genuine fondness and love for life gladden the heart. I have one friend who is blind and always feels my face and comments on my health and disposition from touch alone. When I asked him why everyone in his village seemed happy he told me that “You in England always seem to carry the weight of the World on you. We look after our own first and then others if we can”. What wise words!
During my time in The Gambia I have tried to “put something back”, helping children through school; setting up trade not aid projects and helping specific people to develop skills and careers. Most recently I have been working with Gambia Experience to develop sustainable projects funded by carbon offset contributions from customers.
As I move towards the end of my career I now want to set up a longer term programme which will benefit families, especially those living on subsistence levels of income. My chosen method is through a community stoves programme which will replace more traditional 3 stone fires with one of three newly designed alternative fuel stoves bringing many benefits.
• They will reduce the time in collecting fuel wood (in some areas women spend one day in three collecting fuel wood)
• They can be used in commercial applications, thus creating supplementary livelihoods
• They will help to empower women through incorporation of women’s cooperatives in project activities
• They produce significant cost savings through the use of alternative fuels such as rice husk and peanut shells
• They reduce particulate matter by 67% compared with traditional stoves, this brings a number of respiratory and bronchial health benefits and reduces indoor pollution
• Alternative fuels are much cleaner and less bulky than wood and charcoal
The demand for new stoves is already high as awareness has been heightened through other work in which I have been involved. Many stoves will be sold directly to those who are able to afford them; we sold 15 stoves on the first day of operation and have many more orders. The payback time in terms of saving in fuel alone can be just a few months and the stoves will last for several years.
However there will be many of the poorer families in The Gambia who will not be able to purchase stoves without financial help. It is not my intention to seek “charity” or “international aid” as a means of supporting my work as this is subject to the vagaries of donor whims and far less sustainable than a good business model which provides long term continuation through its pricing structure. Also, once the business is self financing and without liabilities it is my intention to transfer ownership free of any charges to those Gambia nationals who have been engaged to run it through a process which I term “beneficial business”. This will act as a significant local empowerment.
So, with the blessing and approval of Gambia Experience I am asking any customers who may wish to contribute or support families in The Gambia to consider sponsoring a stove as a present for either a family they know or one selected on the basis of restricted income. Each present will consist of the most appropriate new stove design for particular circumstances; an initial supply of 10kg of fuel and personal training by one of the programmes staff in use and maintenance. The cost per gift is £20 and this can be paid either in the UK or in The Gambia. Every donor will receive an acknowledgement and a digital photograph of the stove recipient. My personal guarantee is that every payment will result in a stove and fuel being supplied to a family in The Gambia.
If, like me, you do want to provide help to families who would benefit greatly from a relatively low priced practical and life improving gift then in the first instance contact me by e mail at email@example.com or alternatively if you wish to place an order when in The Gambia contact Fanna Njie, Gambia Community Stoves sales executive on 7703041."
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