The West African country of Senegal is no stranger to struggle. When we have heavy rain and floods here in the UK it can be a huge problem. When heavy rains struck Senegal in August of 2012 it reportedly claimed some 18 lives, left 42 people seriously injured, destroyed houses by the thousand, cut off roads, and flooded hospitals. In the city of Dakar almost 140mm of rain fell during the night of Sunday August 26th, 2012. There were many thousands of victims.
The Dakar suburb of Yoff was seriously affected and that is where relatives of Kiti Sambell were living. Kiti is Senegalese but now lives near Leicester in the UK and is married to Gary Sambell, a warehouse team leader at Benson Group’s plant in Bardon, Leicestershire. They desperately wanted to help not only their immediate relatives but as many of the thousands affected as they could.
Gary, commenting on this thoughts at the time, said: “We’ve never been involved in charity work before, but we knew from speaking to Kiti’s relatives that there were an awful lot of problems out there following this serious flooding. We wanted to help: we wanted to do something directly. We wanted to collect as much clothing, bedding, and shoes – the basics – as we could and deliver them to the people that really needed them.
“Having started to talk about this project with our everyday contacts we were very quickly overwhelmed by the response that we received – our house was soon starting to fill with a fantastic amount of clothing.”
The next obstacle was getting the collection of aid out to Senegal. Gary discussed the project with the senior management at Benson Group. “This is real life,” said Mike Owens, General Manager of Benson Group Bardon. “What else could we do but to assist Gary with his fantastic project. We agreed to fund the freight costs of transporting this much-needed aid into Senegal, where Kiti’s family were then able to get involved and assist with the distribution of the goods in Senegal.”
“Kiti’s relative, Mamadou Diene, has been our champion on the ground in Dakar, heading the effort out in Senegal, organising the distribution of the aid to where it is most needed,” confirmed Gary Sambell.
Job done? Not a bit of it. This is just the beginning for Gary, Kiti, their family, and for Benson Group! “It has been such an incredible experience – just to be able to see the look of delight on the faces of the children in Senegal. We have pledged to keep this project going,” said Gary. “We are already looking at community projects in Senegal covering aid, medicines, and special children’s activities. One of our friends over here managed to obtain some old football kits from Hinckley United Juniors. These were very well received: we would be delighted to take old kit from any youth teams and send that out. The Hinckley kit is now being used in a football academy.
“Distribution of medicines is a major issue, along with sanitation. There are certainly many areas of basic infrastructure that need attention. One area where we are especially keen to provide assistance is in helping the locals to help themselves. Yoff is a fishing community, but much of their fishing fleet is old and badly in need of repair or replacement. We have thoughts about providing a community fishing boat – equipment that can support and feed the community.”
Commenting on the project for Benson Group, Mike Owens said: “We have been delighted to be able to help Gary and Kiti and give their activities the funding and support to get the aid to where it is so desperately needed. It has been very rewarding to see the photographs of the aid actually getting to where it is appreciated, and to be able to see it making a real difference.”
Further donations are welcomed. For people living close to a Benson Group site, items of clothing, blankets and shoes can be delivered to the factories in Bardon, Newcastle, Gateshead, or Crewe. Financial donations can be made via the teams Facebook page at:
or at the recently launched GoFundMe page:
Readers will also find plenty more photos and information on these pages, as well as regular updates.
About Benson Group
Benson Group is one of the UK’s leading privately owned printed folding carton suppliers, producing packaging product for both the food retail and healthcare industries for a wide range of UK and European customers.
The business manufactures packaging product at four production sites covering in excess of 400,000 sq ft. Benson Group continues to grow and expects to achieve annual sales for the current financial year in excess of £120 million. Food product manufacturers are the main customers at Bardon and for the company’s two North East facilities in Newcastle and Gateshead. The fourth site in Crewe serves healthcare and consumer care markets. In recent years, investment in new plant and equipment across the four sites totals in excess of £22 million. The group employs in excess of 900 personnel across all four production sites.
Benson Group creates packaging for many well-known companies, brands and retailers. Key account clients across the Group include Two Sisters Food Group, Reckitt Benkiser, Greencore, and Samworth Brothers. The company is an approved supplier for all of the UK’s leading retail chains. Food and healthcare packaging is exported to customers in countries throughout Europe.
For further information on the Benson Group visit the www.bensongroup.co.uk web site.