Villages in West Africa have been known to lose all their young men overnight due to mass migration.
The men have been so desperate to get to Europe, they have put their lives in danger, crossing the Mediterranean by any means possible.
Sandy Wansbury, a Quaker from East Wittering, set up Africa Organics to work in The Gambia, trying to persuade the young men to stay in their homes.
She explained: “We help the young men, who are trying to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe on boat, to have a livelihood in their own villages.”
Chichester Quakers are supporting the charity’s work and its home farm project by holding a fundraising autumn fair on Saturday from 10am to 1pm at the Friends Meeting House, in Priory Road, Chichester.
Sandy, project director at Africa Organics, has spent her winters in The Gambia for the last 17 years. She has seen many young men take the dangerous ‘backway’ route to Europe.
“Sometimes villages lose all their young men overnight,” she said.
“This mass migration causes great difficulties not only in Europe but also back in their home villages. And the worse thing is that at least 50 per cent of them die in the sea.”
Sandy realised nothing was being done to persuade these young men to stay in their villages, so she set up Africa Organics in 2004 to give them that helping hand and says that has made all the difference.
She raises funds in the UK and takes the proceeds to Gambia, where she focuses on helping people in remote villages to set up a self-reliant lifestyle that can be handed down through the generations.
This usually involves providing basic fencing or wells for making a garden, providing a couple of sheep or goats to start their own flock, or giving a dozen chickens.
Sandy said: “They are trained to grow food to eat and they sell the excess to buy rice or pay school fees.
“Over the years, we have helped dozens of people to develop livelihoods in their own villages and also to appreciate the many benefits that they have there in terms of family and friends while staying safe and building up a sustainable future at home.”
Sandy will be at the autumn fair with a display of the work of the project. Telephone 07548616827, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.africaorganics.org for more information.