Elena Bonometti, chief executive officer of Tostan International has ended her week-long visit to The Gambia.
According to official sources, during her one week stay in the country, Madam Bonometti had meetings with government officials and development partners where they discussed the way forward for the grassroots organisation operating in the Upper River Region (URR) and how they can support and contribute to national development crusade.
During her week-long visit, Madam Bonometti held discussion with the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, education and interior ministers, the US Ambassador, and the European Union among other development partners.
Speaking to our reporter in an interview at the end of her five days visit, Madam Bonometti described her visit as a successful one, saying Tostan is an international organization founded in West Africa about 30 years ago and operating in six countries including The Gambia.
"I realised a lot of hope for the country because Gambia has gone through a difficult time but we are happy to hear that there is space for people to fulfill their potentials and that is Tostan's mission. We advocate for dignity for all and from the conversation I had with different officials, I have found that there is a need for a culture of human rights to be developed in different sectors," she noted.
She said her plan is to ensure that they fulfill the potentials of the organisation, saying they have amazing ideas and history and have very committed staff that is working tirelessly in given back to their communities. "I think our agenda in the next five years would be to work on sustainability and to strengthen our system to make sure that we are efficient and we invest in the long term so that our actions will have longer impact."
She said they also want to make sure that they have impact on key development plans in governance, health, economic prosperity and environment for the communities they serve, adding that the impact at the grassroots level needs to be connected with the impact at the national and global level.
According to her, through Tostan interventions in The Gambia, more than 200 communities have publicly abandoned Female Genital Cutting and early marriage in URR. "So, our next target is to move to the Central River Region (CRR) and the ministry of education has informed us that CRR is one of the regions in the country that has the worst indicators for example the out of school girls," she stated.