January - June 2010


Holding the tenth neutering clinic in Brikama marked an experiment - the first time GambiCats has offered help in a local community. Brikama is in the Western Division of The Gambia and is well-known to tourists for its impressive Craft Market.general view of clinic

Brikama also has a Department of Veterinary Services’ Livestock Clinic under the supervision of Dr Sherifo Bojang who generously agreed to let us use the facilities for our programme. We were offering free neutering and rabies vaccination for the cats and dogs of local people as well as a general health check and flea and worm treatment.

Once again Dutch vet Rob Schell and his son Niels, a fourth-year veterinary student, had generously volunteered their time and resources for a week, and Rob’s wife Yvonne also gave her time and support during the clinic.

Before we started, Sherifo introduced us to the reporters of Brikama’s Community Radio service. They were very enthusiastic about the programme and interviewed Shirifo and Dodou in Mandinka and Wolof, and me in English! This interview was then broadcast several times during the clinic to explain our objectives and invite people to bring their animals.

Dodou and I also went shopping to buy the essentials for the clinic - tea, coffee, sugar, soft drinks, water, cleaning materials etc.! Then to meet, Rob, Yvonne & Niels at the airport where Customs decided to search their luggage. Luckily Dr Daffeh from Abuko had provided an official invitation letter which explained the veterinary contents of the suitcases and they were soon cleared through.

The clinic started on the next day, Saturday April 3rd, and got off to a good start. Dodou transported the team - Rob, Niels, Alajie, Abu and myself - from the hotel to Brikama, a journey of around 35 minutes. We were greeted by lots of little boys ready and waiting who were bringing the family dogs for treatment. One dog escaped but was brought back, one was already castrated but had his rabies injection and worm & flea treament.




The work then settled into a routine although each day had its surprises. Several of the dogs had been already castrated locally, without anaesthetic so received a rabies injection & checkover. On Sunday a lively meeting of rice farmers took place interrupted by a squawking chicken with a plastic bag on its leg! We were invited to join the farmers for a lunch of benechin.


The plug to the autoclave melted and a new one was bought. On Tuesday there was an electricity cut for 30 minutes. The clinic gave Niels an opportunity to operate for the first time, under his father’s supervision of course! This went very well and will help Niels in his training.




Wednesday April 7 was the last day at Brikama and we provided a

 farewell lunch of benechin for everyone. The clinic was dismantled and it took Dodou 4 journeys to bring back the equipment, cages, autoclave etc.

Rob very kindly went to the Brikama Market and bought 4 colourful metal trunks which he donated to GambiCats to store the veterinary materials - some for the next clinic, the rest for donation locally or use by Dodou.

On Thursday the clinic was set up at Luigi’s where we were staying at the generous invitation of Julie. We used Rob & Yvonne’s luxury apartment on the final day to neuter 9 cats from the Palma Rima, Jerma, Dunes and Luigi’s hotels, and 4 dogs owned by Gambians. All were given anti-rabies vaccinations, flea & worm treatments.

In all 40 dogs and 13 cats were neutered and vaccinated, and 13 dogs and one cat were given vaccinations only - a total of 66 animals treated!

On Thursday Rob, Yvonne and Niels flew back to the Netherlands.

We would like to thank Sherifo Bojang and all the staff at the Brikama Veterinary Clinic, also Dr Daffeh at the Department of Veterinary Services, Abuko, for their support for the neutering programme.

Thanks are due to as always to Rob, Niels & Yvonne; to Dodou for setting up and coordinating the work; Alajie & Abu for their hard work as well as Foday who joined us on the final day; supporters and vets who donated veterinary materials, dog collars & leads etc.; Brenda & Priory vets, Cardigan for help ordering vet items; Betty & the Animal Medical Care Foundation; and to AST Pharm, WVS and SNIP International.

Finally, a special vote of thanks to Julie for her generosity in looking after us with excellent food and accommodation.

Dunes Hotel
We are delighted that this new hotel has joined GambiCats’ programme.

Airport collecting box
We now have a collecting box at Yundum Airport. It is situated by the counter of Luigi’s cafe which is located outside the departure lounge. We hope that departing tourists will be generous and donate their remaining dalasi, or whatever currency they wish!

Dutch dimension
Visitors to our website will have noticed that some of it has been translated into Dutch by one of our supporters, Caroline Bruinink. We hope that this will bring our work to the attention of more Dutch visitors, and maybe encourage a branch in The Netherlands. Many thanks to Caroline Bruinink.


WSPA grant makes it possible to replace our old car
The old red Pajero has given us good service over the past years, but thanks to the state of the Gambian roads, needed replacing. We applied for a grant from WSPA and were fortunate enough to be accepted. These funds, together with private donations, made it possible to buy the Galloper which Dodou is now using. The sturdy 4W drive proved its worth during the Brikama Clinic as it can take2 more people than the Pajero, and has more space for all the equipment etc.

HSBC helps GambiCats
HSBC is one of a number of organisation who donate to charities by a scheme triggered by a member of staff. In this case Rachel brought out veterinary supplies for us and helped while visiting The Gambia earlier in the year. She works for HSBC and successfully applied for their charity grant of £500. This is the second time Rachel has done this. Maybe your employer operates a similar scheme? Let us know if you need a letter from GambiCats to apply.

SNIP grant helps buy new equipment
SNIP stands for the Society for Neutering Islington Pussies! This group has worked with cats in London for many years and set up SNIP International a few years ago to help neutering groups outside the UK. A welcome grant enabled us to buy graspers and a cage.