Her father passed on when she was not born and was singlehandily raised by the mother. Like many other children raised by a single parent, life was not all rosy for her. But with God’s intervention and her mother’s guidance, she excelled and overcame some of the obstacles.
Matty Jobe is not only a role model for many young people, but a destiny shaper. Her entire education from primary to senior secondary school was sponsored, that made her set up organisations to reciprocate not only to children with single parents, but also the society where she grew up.
Bantaba caught up with her and here is the excerpt.
Bantaba: Over the years you have been engaged in lots of activities, could you sum it up for us
Matty: Quite right, over the years I have been engaged in so many youth activities, I can’t even remember some. But it all started in 2006 after graduating from senior secondary school and couldn’t have sponsorship to proceed with my education to either College or University.
I later built interest in writing and wrote several scripts. And in 2008, I founded Gambia Youth Actors Association (GAMYAA), an association devoted to helping youths interested in arts and to find a way for them. I also worked with the Ministry of Youth and Sports during the Nayconf 2011, where I was heading the cultural sub –committee. In 2012, the same Ministry facilitated a Youth Camp for primary school children. I have been involved in many organisations that deal with youths just to volunteer and contribute my quota.
Bantaba: What impact does your work have on Gambians especially youths?
Matty: In 2010, I started working with the National Centre for Arts and Culture as the Performing Arts Officer, a position I held for five years. My role was to work with artistes and artists groups to help them build their capacities in their respective fields.
In the Gambia we do not have any performing arts school where young people can go and learn all the skills they need; such as dancing, singing, fashion, clown etc. It was necessary for someone to tell the youth that those things might not be available here, but something was possible.
Through the Gambia Youth Actors’ Association, most of the members especially the ones that were dancers got employed at hotels as entertainers, some of the actors and actresses who started with me are now with Aunty Janet Badjan-Young’s Ebujan Theatre.
Those actors and actresses are doing very well, because Aunty Janet has given them employment and some of the musicians are now recording singles and even planning to launch albums. Apart from that there are projects that are in the pipeline, currently I am working with the Global Hands Manduar Development Hub as Programme Manager, so you can imagine what that does mean to the youths of The Gambia.
Matty: Our main objective is to [literary] teach people how to fish not giving them fish. We just don’t want to be job givers and but job creators, in which they are trained to start their own projects or businesses, to unlock their potentials and in turn help other young people. It’s another way of discouraging young people from going through the ‘back-way’.
Bantaba: Like you said you teaching them how to fish, and over the years you have produced so many young people, are they gainfully employed?
Matty: Yeah quite a number of them. I’m not too sure how many because it’s barely a year since I joined the family, but under the Global Hands, there is an academy which trains young people in three regions of the country: West Coast Region, KMC and Upper River Region. The academy is for young people from 15 years because they need to be trained at younger age.
Bantaba: When will the other regions be included ?
Matty: Well, we are currently working on that because we don’t just want to limit ourselves to only three regions. Youths are all over the country and they all deserve to benefit from whatever concerns them. We have talented youths all over; some are good in businesses, arts, entrepreneurship etc. So our next plan is to train youths in the remanding four regions that will make things fair and balanced.
Bantaba: In ten years time what will Global Hands do in making sure that youths are empowered?
Matty: We want to extend the Global Hands because right now we have Global Hands Gambia and Global Hands Leicester. It’s not only here in The Gambia that we are developing young people as a matter of fact, we are organising a summit in November 2016 in UK. The reason is that we want to hear from young people around the world, what their concerns are, to pave the way forward and find solutions to some of the problems they are facing because they are the ones affected.
Global Hands will like to run its hubs all over the Gambia, currently our hub is only in Manduar and beneficiaries are around that community. We want to extend it to other communities as we want to run as many hubs as possible and to also have a resource centre such as libraries in all of our facilities. This we can only done over a period of time. I believe this can empower the young people because they need resource centres where they can be part of and can benefit from; where they can play as well as learn.
Bantaba: You traveled to Germany and US, was it in connection to youth work?
Matty: I was in Germany in 2013 for the Theatre Fellowship which was a one year programme. The ten weeks was an incubation phase, where we learned all what we needed to learn about theatre and then the other seven months was implementation phase in our respective countries and for my area of interest was Theatre for Development.
We used the different types of theatre to talk about developmental issues affecting the young people. Like invisible theatre, which can be at any place, we just have to discuss what kind of topic we want to discuss and then just start talking others will join in the conversation without even knowing that it was theatre. And when I returned home I launched the project.
In 2014, I was among the first batch of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which is now known as the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This is an Obama programme to bring young leaders from Africa and teach them what they can take back home and let others benefit from it. I was under the civic leadership track and was in Lousiana for six weeks then we had a summit in Washington where we met Obama, Michelle and John Kerry.
Bantaba: What are some of the challenges?
Matty: One of the challenges we are facing is lack of funds to run our programmes. For example the Library which was recently inaugurated in Manduar was built through fundraising activities in the UK and Gambia. We organised a run but it brought us little money, however, in the UK through coffee and tea sales among other initiatives, we were able to garner funds for the construction of the library. Therefore, it will be difficult to walk out of this challenge, because we need funds to keep up with our work because our hub is not generating much income.
Bantaba: You are also into assisting unprivileged people to undergo overseas treatment, who are those and how do you help?
Matty: Well that is one of the things I inherited from my mother; she was a generous women. I am currently partnering with the Fund for Hope Organisation, where we help children that cannot afford overseas treatment. I mean children who are severely ill and cannot be treated here.
It all started with Malla Manneh in 2013 when I visited her at the EFSTH where she was admitted for two years with a kind of tumor. Since then we have raised money through an online portal ‘Gofundme’ as well as locally.
Then I said it won’t stop with Malla, and other people started coming to me with kids who were suffering similar illness. Then there was Kumba Sarr and Sarjo both deceased now.
My heart goes out to the vulnerable, poor and less- privileged people.
Bantaba: Final Words?
Matty: I will be launching my organisation in the near future and I will be knocking on all doors. Thank you for having me and may God bless you.