Former high school student Katy Roberts, 18, from Weston Turville who set up a children’s charity Child Aid Gambia with her father Chris in 2011, has been awarded Honourary Citizenship of the City of Banjul in recognition and appreciation of her outstanding contributions to the people of Banjul and surrounding areas.
Katy, who is on a gap year doing voluntary work at the PACE Centre after being accepted to Lancaster University, won the 18th Jane Brownlee Scholarship at Aylesbury High School which she received from Jane's son, Ben Brownlee.
Jane Brownlee was a teacher at Aylesbury High School from 1978 until 1998 and Head of Geography.
The Scholarship is in honour of her memory and is awarded in the spring every year, to a student who wishes to travel abroad.
The money Katy received was put to good use in the Gambia this month to improve the living conditions of Gambian street children hit by the recent political crises which saw over 45,000 people leave the country to seek safety in neighbouring Senegal since last December.
During the ceremony held in the council chambers in Banjul presided over by Mr. Sandigie Njie, Clerk to the City Council, Katy was given an illuminated certificate of citizenship signed under the seal and hand of his worship the Lord Mayor of Banjul, Alh.
Abdoulie Bah and the Chief Executive Officer of the Banjul City Council Mr. Mustapha Batchilly, who also presented her with a silver key to the city of Banjul. Mr. Batchilly said: "the key was given because of the friendship that Katy had showed to the children of the community." He added: "the key symbolised that she can have access to any home and family in Banjul as honourary citizen of the capital city."
Mr. Sandigie Njie said: "Katy’s hard work and personal sacrifice is instrumental in supporting and working with destitute street children and those suffering great hardship because of personal circumstances in The Gambia."
Child Aid Gambia had funded the D 300,000.00 (£5,525.77) Ndangan Water Project which was started in 2011 and completed in July 2014, which meant that the children and their families living at the shanty town of Ndangan are now able to drink clean safe drinking water which will greatly improve the health and sanitation of the children and the community as a whole.
Mr. Batchilly went on to thank Katy Roberts and her father Chris for the tremendous philanthropic contribution to Banjul especially mentioning the shanty town settlement at Ndangan.
He commented that he was born and brought up in Banjul and had lived there most of his life, but like many others did not know where the settlement was until Child Aid Gambia became involved with helping the community.
Mr. Batchilly also reiterated the importance of international friendship between Britain and The Gambia, which was particularly fitting given The Gambia’s recent re-entry into the Commonwealth under His Excellency President Adama Barrow.
The mayor Mr. Abdoulie Bah said: "Katy is an inspiration through her work with disadvantaged children, particularly with the completion of the Ndangan Water Project and the continual support that she and her father are giving to the shanty town since he had been appointed Mayor of the capital city in 2013."2
He also explained that he was not expecting to see Katy this year because of the political unrest in the country, during which he himself had to flee The Gambia for his own safety when an arrest warrant was issued for him after he had shown support for the new president.
Chris said he was immensely proud of all that Katy has achieved with her charity work in the Gambia, and was very happy to support her in all her ventures. He went on to say that Katy is incredibly selfless and dedicated in spending so much time helping others, and that this honour was a reflection of the high esteem that she is held in and a fitting reward for her efforts.
Katy thanked the people of Banjul for their hospitality, and commented that she felt honoured to receive the award and will continue to help support the poor and destitute children of The Gambia through the charity for many years to come.
During their recent exhausting stay in the Gambia, Katy and Chris were invited to attend the 52nd Independence Anniversary Celebrations and Inauguration of His Excellency Mr. President Adama Barrow the new President of the Republic of the Gambia.
Katy and Chris had a difficult task catching up with some of the charity’s sponsor children as most of them had fled the country during the time of political unrest, or stopped going to school as they felt it was unsafe.
They also distributed over 3 suitcases of donated clothes given by people in the Aylesbury area, and helped to find a home for a family of four recently orphaned children and sponsorship for their education.
Anyone wishing to sponsor a child through us can do so by contacting us through our website www.childaid.gm It costs just £38.00 per year.