Jokadu District Development Fund
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To relieve sickness and promote good health in the Jokadu District by providing medical facilities in the form of a Health Clinic, equipped with trained and qualified staff.

To advance education by supporting the existing Primary Schools and relieve poverty, in this area, by providing charitable assistance as the trustees, in their absolute discretion, see necessary.


Geoffrey and Julie Henson have been described by one prominent UK journalist as an ordinary couple whose lives were completely changed by their first visit to The Gambia.

Geoff and Julie Henson

On their own admission, they saw desperately poor families struggling to survive and could not walk away.

Geoff and Julie are now both retired. Geoff previously worked as a Veterinary Business Manager and Julie as a teacher, in the Matlock area of Derbyshire.

It was in 1996 that they first became involved with The Gambia, when they were asked if they could help to provide materials and support for the construction and development of a Nursery School. Following their interest and support, they were invited to visit The Gambia to see the results of their help, this was in 1998.

From that visit their commitment, to help the Gambians to help themselves and to improve their lot in life, has been unwavering.

Their current project, the building of a health clinic in the Jokadu District on the North bank of the River Gambia, is their most ambitious to date. Taking on this major challenge has resulted in their lives revolving around an unremitting schedule of planning and fund raising for this clinic, and other projects, in a part of The Gambia where life has changed little in the past century.

Their initial contact with the villagers of Bakang was in May 2005. This was when the villagers asked Geoff and Julie for financial assistance to purchase the building materials to enable them to build themselves a health clinic. They explained that their nearest medical help was a 4 hour journey on the back of a flat top open cart, drawn by donkey or ox, on dirt tracks across open ground. There are no permanent roads to get to this hospital, so in the dry season there are flies and dust to contend with and during the rainy season there are pot holes filled with water, and the tracks all but disappear. People ill with malaria, bitten by a snake or struggling with a difficult child birth will not bother to face the journey. There are many fatalities that could be avoided with prompt medical treatment, hence the request for help to build a Health Clinic.

"We never intended to do this, it just happened", explains former Darley Dale teacher Julie. "We are just ordinary people. We went out to this village one day and saw how the people were struggling to survive. They asked us to help and we knew we could not walk away.

Although the Gambian people are very poor in material terms, they are very rich in spirit. They are always happy and smiling, share what little they have and appreciate everything you do for them. They want to do things for themselves but they simply don’t have the means to buy anything."

Julie and Geoff with The Gambia Map

On their next visit, in February 2006, Geoff and Julie were fortunate to have an audience with the Vice President of the Gambia. This was an important meeting and led to meeting the Ministers for Health and for Education, as well as the Chief Nursing Officer. It also resulted in a recommendation, by the Vice President, to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gambian Government. This was done on March 2nd and the results are as follows:


1. To finance the construction of the Kankudibi Health Clinic. (This is the name chosen by the villagers of Bakang).

2. To equip the clinic. (See list of requirements).

3. To finance the training of 2 villagers, (1 male and 1 female) as nurses, on a 2 year course using the Basang Nurse Training college in Banjul. (They began their course in January 2007).

4. To continue financial support towards staff, drugs, equipment and expendable supplies for a maximum of 5 years.

5. To provide staff housing for the nurses at the clinic site.

6. To finance the erection of a boundary fence around the clinic site, to ensure security.

7. The Water Resources Department will be approached to finance the sinking of a borehole to ensure a clean water supply. (This was unsuccessful, so the sponsors will have to finance this too).


The Department of State for Health and Social Welfare shall contribute the following:

1. Assist Sponsors to have duty free waiver for medical/surgical equipment, drugs and other consumables imported from overseas.

2. Take over the operation of the facility at the end of 5 years’ funding by the sponsors.

3. Supply necessary drugs, equipment and other essentials at the end of the sponsors’ funding.

4. Will allocate trained staff for the first 2 years of the completion of the building.

5. The staff salaries will be subsidised by the sponsor at a rate to be negotiated with DOSH.

6. DOSH will regularly monitor the activities of the centre through the Divisional Health Team at Central Level.


Since the project was developing well, Geoff and Julie were advised to apply for Charity status, in order to gain more credibility. This necessitated finding people with an interest in the work they had already begun in The Gambia and with a wish to become involved.
Six friends agreed to become trustees and in October 2006 Charity Status was obtained. The Jokadu District Development Fund (J.D.D.F.), Charity Number 1116291 was created. It is a small trust with only eight trustees.
Its name embraces a poor area on the North Bank of the River Gambia, where the people live in mud huts with straw or corrugated iron roofs and where cattle and donkeys wander around the dirt streets.
Most families scratch a meager living from growing groundnuts, rice and cassava, and by fishing in the local tributary of the River Gambia.

The J.D.D.F. strives to raise money for the various projects described in their charity application. Registered Charity Number 1116291.

JDDF Charity Trustees
David Allen, Mike Fowler, Geoffrey Henson, Ceri Andrews, Julie Henson, Janet Fleming, Hazel Mottram, Joan Andrews

The charity is run at no expense whatever to anyone. All the trustees are volunteers and there are no overheads. All money raised is banked in the U.K. Cash is forwarded to The Gambia, only when specific needs and materials have been identified. It is then strictly monitored with records and receipts being sent to the treasurer of the trust in England.

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