By: Mariama Njie
As the Ministry of Health campaign on covid-19 vaccine intensifies across The Gambia more craft market women vendors have taken and are still taking the Covid-19 jabs to reduce the spread of the virus and protect themselves and their families, as they meet different people daily.
Speaking exclusively in an interview with this medium, Sally Cham, a vendor at the Senegambia craft market, said she has taken her COVID-19 vaccine for her safety and that of the tourists and other visitors to the craft market.
“At first when I heard about the vaccination I was scared and did not want to take it but I was later convinced that the vaccines are safe and effective,” she added.
Madam Cham, who has been a vendor at the craft market since 1993, said the business is her number one source of income, and couldn’t afford to stay at home despite businesses being scrambled due to COVID-19.
“To keep on, I had to take the vaccine to protect myself and the tourists that are visiting the market,” she added.
Sally Cham stated that she did not feel any side effects after taking the vaccines.
Haddy Manka is another craft vendor, she sells handmade accessories at the Senegambia Craft Market. She had taken the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent herself from contracting the virus and to continue operating in
“We were told that if we do not take the Covid-19 vaccine we will not operate in the craft market. So that has also encouraged many
of us here to take the vaccines.”
Madam Manka affirmed that it is from the craft market that she and some other women earn their livelihoods and provide for themselves and their family’s needs.
Meanwhile, Awa Bittaye, another craft market vendor, explained that when she heard that the Gambia has commenced covid-19 vaccines, she rushed to the nearest clinic without hesitation to take the vaccine jab.
She disclosed that there was a rumor at the craft market that if they do not take the vaccine they will not be allowed to open their stalls.
But as the breadwinner of the family, “ I did not hesitate in taking the COVID-19 vaccine, I went to the hospital I was motivated by the number
of the people, I saw on the queue for vaccination.”
She added that after taking the vaccines, she did not encounter any symptoms and she later encouraged her family to take the vaccine.
“I was told that if I don’t take the covid-19 vaccine I will not sell at the craft market. It is this business I depend on for survival and I had to take the vaccine to continue operation,” Bintou Sarr, a craft market vendor at Bakau disclosed.
Awa Keita, on her part, said the business has been so slow since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There were low turnouts of tourists, we do not make many sales and that has made life difficult for us because we have no other means of income but this,” she said.
Madam Keita confirmed taken the covid-19 vaccine to protect herself and the people who normally visit her stall.
Gibril Gando Baldeh, Senior health communication officer, revealed that out of 500,000 people vaccinated in The Gambia only a few from the tourism industry have been vaccinated which includes craft market vendors.
He said it is important for craft market vendors to get vaccinated because they depend solely on the tourism sector.
“Tourists around the world will be going to countries that have a high vaccination coverage, so if they want their product to sell, they should all be vaccinated, which will help to encourage more tourists to visit The Gambia,” he added.
“With only 20% of our population vaccinated, many countries will not give their people the green light to visit The Gambia. So we are appealing to all those working in the tourism industry to come out and get vaccinated,”
Meanwhile, he divulged that the Ministry of Health is yet to achieve its 70% vaccination target.
“Our target is not yet made, as of now only 20% of the population have been vaccinated. We want to vaccinate 70% of the population because we want to create a hard immunity for the country,” he promised.
From the latest update on vaccination in The Gambia, at least a total of 452,514 have received their first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine and a total of 357,390 people have been fully vaccinated.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Kaba Communication and The Voice Newspaper