Chris Hayter, founder of The Oasis Project (The Gambia)
Chris Hayter received a Rotary Champions of Change Award earlier this year for her work with the people of Bakau, a village on Gambia’s Atlantic coastline to the west of the capital Banjul. She was driven to help this fishing community because of her deeply held belief that everyone deserves a chance. This belief is firmly rooted in her own life experiences and reflects her strong Christian faith and values.
Chris was almost ten when she arrived in England, escaping war torn Nigeria, to join her father in London. A troubled childhood followed, where love was short and scolding’s frequent. Eventually Chris was taken into care. As life unfolded Chris faced more challenges, but she never lost hope that a brighter future awaited her. She focused on her education and training, steadily built her confidence and resilience and became determined to make a difference wherever she could.
Chris is a passionate business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She has worked in sales, account management and most recently in financial services. She is also proud to have opened the first Afro-Caribbean hairdressing salon in Milton Keynes (where she has lived since the late 1970s), creating new jobs and building a thriving business. In 2006 she was moved to set up The Oasis Project (The Gambia), a charity enabling the Bakau community to improve their education, health and environment. She feels privileged and humbled to be a part of their lives and extremely fulfilled by the experience.
Chris collaborates with local community, community leaders and a wide range of local authorities to help them collectively create sustainable improvements for the people of Bakau. She has focussed on two projects that have had an immense, positive impact; starting and running a school, and with the financial support of Milton Keynes Grand Union Rotary Club and a Global Grant from the Rotary Foundation, constructing a storm drains in the village to remove stagnant rain water thereby, reducing cases of Malaria. Both projects faced challenges, and whilst Chris is neither an educationalist nor engineer, she does appear to have a knack for galvanising people into action and helping them to overcome problems! She is affectionately known as Mama Chris
To find out more about The Oasis Project (The Gambia) visit www.theoasisproject.org