One of my goals through getButterflied is to connect with charities and get more involved with philanthropic endeavours. So when I stumbled across a post on Facebook indicating that a beautiful project will soon be unveiled in Gambia towards the end of the year, I thought, I need to get involved or at least get more information. So I sent one of the founders (Matthew Pople) of Bantaba an email and he kindly offered to give me more information. Thanks Matt.
A Little Background
Bantaba stemmed from the desire to help others. It was essentially started to help individuals feed their families, to teach people to fish rather than give the fish for today and to educate others to make life easier and more enriching.
Bantaba means “togertheness” in Mandinka, which is the main language spoken by the Mandinka people and the main language of Gambia. The charity is the pilot organisation of Masterpieces in Motion which has been around for years.
Work towards setting up Bantaba, only started two years ago. It is located in Brikama, Gambia and was founded by Matthew Pople, Sainey Jarju and Marcin Rakowski.
The Work They Do
Sustainability requires that any work that is done by a charity remains diverse. Currently Bantaba has a recording studio business, which currently includes recording, mixing, mastering, teaching, speaker repairs, Djembe lessons, sessions musicians for hire, music theory and technology repair.
A woodworking and leather business has also been established, which is currently making a variety of internationally and locally demanded products.
The goal for the future is to make music technology projects appropriate for the both the local Gambian community and for the international markets.
Bantabas’ Views on Sustainability and How They Achieve it
Sustainability essentially implies balance. It implies that an organism is within balance in its ability to give and receive. The goal of Bantaba is to be a sustainable non-profit charity.
A problem they have found with other charity models is that education has been far removed from industry. This leaves room for what is taught to not directly be relevant to industry.
Creating an industry inside of a community creates jobs and also creates a platform for education to be based from experience not theory.
In Matt’s words “We feel it is a much more practical way of learning. So what separates us from just creating a business? The beauty of having services to provide and not being profit-focused means that the more profit we make the more we can afford to pay off our own overheads and consequently make the services accessible for locals by reducing the price of them. Everyone benefits, the local community have a platform for education, families are fed through jobs, and services are provided affordably..”
Year 1: As Bantaba has recently acquired a new building, this year (2015) involves a year of expansion for the Bantaba team. The aim is to move towards higher levels of sustainability.
They are creating new job opportunities in graphic design, network engineering, engineering and design with CNC machine, speaker construction, and technology education.
They will also be working towards steadily growing their online presence and media portfolio. This will include live music video recordings, and interviews such as this one.
There will be a massive content push, where the beautiful musical and other cultural creations of Gambia will be revealed. Education resources will also be created to appropriately meet the needs of people here.
There are also other plans in the pipeline (all will be revealed in due course). Their strong belief in sustainability is such that they will be raising funds to help their building become more solar powered.
The development of other sustainable living techniques include permaculture and waste management as to limit the overheads.
Years 2 to 3: Will involve furthering the building blocks that were created in year one. The Bantaba team hopes to have a thriving industry that is creating high quality products that inspire others to inspire others.
Slowly but surely control of Bantaba will be released so Gambians can run it. This will involve creating local teachers and focusing efforts towards developing key management techniques.
Years 4 to 5: Will involve expansion into global networks. The goal is to create a model that can be replicated elsewhere. The hope is to link with various brother and sister organisations so that they can provide support for one another through exchange programs, volunteer work, education and resource allocation.
How Do I Get Involved?
I asked Matt if they currently require volunteers and he said they are always looking for a wide range of people to help out and at this stage of the development, they are in particular need of volunteers.
This includes, but is in no way limited to the following: Graphic designers, photographers, bloggers (yes im on it) media, website design, electrical engineering, engineering, musicians, artists, teachers, gardeners and permaculture experts.If you have a specific skill that you feel can benefit Bantaba, get in contact.
They are in the final stages of building and every hand helps to keep costs down. They are also looking for volunteers to help and build educational resources in technology. Matt mentions:”We welcome help in the creation of solid organisational infrastructure.”
There is no minimum time frame expected with regard to involvement. With regard to costs, this will vary depending on the length of stay. Matt said that they have a list of expenditures you can expect.
With the new building you will not have to pay rent. If you are looking to volunteer and want more information be sure to check the details at the bottom of this post.
What If I Can’t volunteer, Can I Make a Donation?
The first prize will always be your time, time is more valuable than your money. As Matt states: “Used correctly your time can change people lives. Your time is the most precious gift you have and consequently the most fruitful donation.”
If that’s not possible for you right now, Bantaba welcomes various objects you don’t use such as educational resources. They actually have a list of first world items that they would find incredibly helpful. Donations are also accepted through Paypal.
What Would the Money be Used for?
All donations are purposed towards continuing their ability to remain sustainable and help others become more sustainable. This involves improving their educational resources such as computers, books, and technology, anyway really that can keep their overheads low.
Solar power panels for example can subsidise their current services and keep them affordable for locals. All donators will receive a letter from the organisation letting them know exactly where their money has been spent on.
Are you looking to get involved in Charity work? Or have you been involved in the past?