Samaritana was established in 2014 by Amani and her husband Paddy in response to God’s command to GO to West Africa. Both come from Social and Youth Work backgrounds. The Gambia is our home.
Amani, 17 years with Youth for Christ/USA, and now also a Lawyer here in the Gambia. Paddy, an Anglican Priest of 25 years, with 30 years Social Work, Social Policy, experience with particular experience in Forensic Clinical Residential Team Leadership and Supervision.
They had previously served two years in our sister Organisation, Samaritana Philippines working under Filipino missionaries in very relevant ministries to life here in the Gambia.
Why The Gambia?
We first came here in 2011 when the late Anglican ArchBishop Tilewa Johnson and his wife Mother Priscilla Johnson invited Paddy here as a relieving priest. When God, in 2013 said “West Africa” The Gambia was the logical first place to go to.
From our own research we knew there was no organised ministry to girls and women hustling on the infamous Senegambia Tourist Strip in the Gambia. As well as, no ministry working with those working in brothels in the Kololi, Kotu, Manjai and Serekunda Market areas. Any anti-Sex Trafficking ministry was also missing from the picture.
The Gambia, because of the evil Dictatorship that reigned here for 22 years, and the fledgling new administration’s inability to do everything at once, was downgraded to the lowest tier, Tier 3, in the 2019 Annual Trafficking in Persons report prepared by the USA State Department (done on EVERY country in the world): And we quote
“The Gambia is a source & destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Within The Gambia, women, girls, & to a lesser extent boys are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude. Women, girls, and boys from West African countries—mainly Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Benin—are recruited for commercial sexual exploitation in The Gambia.
Most of these victims are subjected to sexual exploitation by European child sex tourists. Observers believe organized sex trafficking networks use both European and Gambian travel agencies to promote child sex tourism.
Gambian children have been identified as victims of forced labor in neighboring West African countries, including Ghana and Senegal. Women and girls are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in Middle Eastern countries, including United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Lebanon.
The Gambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
During the reporting period, the government repatriated and provided services to nine victims subjected to trafficking abroad and continued to conduct sensitization campaigns in key border regions; however, the government did not complete any prosecutions, secure any convictions, or identify any victims within the country for the fourth consecutive year.
Additionally, despite reports that government officials were complicit in trafficking offenses during the reporting period, the government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE GAMBIA:
- Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and ensure adequate sentencing for convicted trafficking offenders, including complicit government officials;
- train law enforcement personnel to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable populations, such as boys in street vending, unattended children in tourist resorts known to be sex tourism destinations, and women in prostitution, and refer them to protective services;
- improve data collection and public reporting on victim identification and law enforcement efforts;
- develop standard procedures for referring trafficking victims to NGO care services and inform government officials and the NGO community of such procedures;
- undertake cooperative efforts with anti-trafficking officials from governments in the region to enable joint law enforcement efforts, and the safe repatriation of victims to and from The Gambia;
- and provide adequate funding and resources to the national coordinating body to ensure its effective implementation of the anti-trafficking national action plan”
Many women and men find themselves trapped in the cycle of prostitution.
It is often a lifestyle that is fraught with violence and exploitation, addictions, and poverty. Women are often coerced, forced, recruited or pimped to become sexual slaves, or concubines to sexual predators
Built on the solid foundation of Jesus, the primary focus of Samaritana is to seek these girls, women and boys and men. Inviting them to let us walk with them has led us many different paths these last 7 years.
The Ministry takes place in Samaritana’s compound called HOPE HOUSE.
Samaritana Gambia provides support to marginalized women and girls along with those exiting the sex industry. We use holistic approaches including spiritual, emotional, educational and physical to help find hope, love and dignity.
To see girls and women transition from the sex industry. To create safety and community. To address barriers for change. To build self-esteem through occupational therapy and other small group activities. To aid girls and women in identifying and applying skills, strategies and solutions, to the physical, systemic, emotional, financial and legal or immigration barriers they face here in The Gambia.
- Dignity for all women, Christian and non-Christian alike, because they are all valued and loved by God
- Integrity in all we do as we strive to be good stewards of the resources God provides to us
- Grace and Compassion as demonstrated by Jesus
- New hope for a transformed life in all aspect of their lives
- Inspiration for a positive identity about who they are.
- Trust in God’s love and promises of forgiveness and help.
- Yielding to Biblical principles (which are common to Islam)
- Provide spiritual guidance and healing to marginalized women and those desiring to leave the sex Industry.
- To provide counselling and mentoring, art and heart therapy;
- To demonstrate genuine love providing examples of nurturing relationships;
- To work in useful partnerships with community resources and other organizations.
- To mentor women to learn to live communally modeling life skills and healthy relationships;
- To assist in finding jobs and/or educational opportunities so the women become able to provide for their needs
- To establish relationships with sex trade workers in the hope to later provide assistance to leave the sex trade;
- To network and support other organizations across West Africa who are dedicated to similar goals.
- To become a financially self-sustaining ministry.
Board of Trustees
- We have a Board of 7 who along with us ,are the kaitiaki (guardians) of Samaritana’s Affairs
- Christiana is a very educated young Gambian leader, who brings to the table the big picture questions.
- Mary as a local multi lingual children’s and youth worker has been an excellent recent addition to the Board
- Donna as a Lebanese Gambian citizen is from the deaf community, she is bring passion, questions and a hunger to understand how we can help the many many abiued victims in her particular community.
- Layne, born in the USA, is a Long Term member of the Univeristy of The Gambia Religous Academic Staff
- Andrew born in the free land of Scotland is very familiar with the organisational running of a similar very diverse group of workers
- Finally, after persuasion, our shy young but ever so discerning and perceptive and wise CEO Marian has accepted she needs to be on the Board. As the Team grows there will be a staff rep on the board