port of harlem magazine
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Coming to America: Soap from BYDA Women’s Group and More
August 29 – September 11, 2019
Gambia River Soap

Gambia River body soap made by the Women’s Group of the Baobab Youth Development Association (BYDA) is now available in Metro Washington at Nisey’s Boutique in Mt. Rainier, MD, Alexandria Black History Museum in Alexandria, VA, Glenmont Beauty Supply in Silver Spring, MD, and Newstyles Beauty Supply also in Silver Spring, MD.

The honey and bees wax-based soap comes in seven varieties:  cassia, mango, ginger, peppermint (nana), moringa, shea butter, and honey.

The Women’s Group developed their soap making business with assistance from the Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP). Using fair trade practices, POHGEP buys soap from the Group and sales soap in the United States.

POHEP projects focus on education, community, and culture and currently works with five organizations. “We encourage all the groups to strive to be self-sufficient though entrepreneurship. As a community group with entrepreneurial instincts, the BYDA Women’s Group has been leading all the groups in developing a successful enterprise,” says POHGEP President Wayne Young.

Port Of Harlem magazine, as a pan-African publication, started POHGEP, after publisher Young’s longtime friend Suraweh Jabai, asked Young why he has never seen African-American Peace Corp workers and other African-Americans helping to develop his country. Since 2002, POHGEP has been involved in Jabai’s village, Nema Kunka, and has since expanded with other projects on the South Bank of the Gambia River in Soma and Kubuneh, and on the North Bank in Juffure and Bakindick.

In Nema Kunka, BYDA also has an expanding 218 book, POHGEP supported library, scholarship fund for children from families needing economic assistance, and infrastructure projects. The group also has gotten donations for the local hospital from a Dutch group.

In Soma, POHGEP has had window frames and fans installed in their developing 165-book library. There are plans for a European Union (EU) funded group to further develop the library building in September with money the EU has set aside to discourage Gambians from coming to Europe illegally or “the backway.”

In Kubuneh, the Washington, DC-based registered charity has been working with the Kubuneh Cultural Museum with developing new sources of income from community resources including oysters and oyster shells. The museum is teaching local oyster workers about using the shells that they now throw away, to provide calcium nutritional supplement to chickens and to make jewelry.  They also recently inventoried their holdings and upgraded their promotion and fundraising activities.

In Juffurh, POHGEP is creating a third exhibit for the (Gambia) National Centre for Arts and Culture. The exhibit will join the other two at the Juffure Slavery Museum. 
POHGEP handles it own travel expenses. Your donations go directly to our Gambian cousins.

The United Kingdom recently completed work with the National Centre for Arts and Culture with developing a museum at Fort Bullen. The British built the fort in 1826 to discourage the Spanish and Americans from continuing the slave trade after Britain had abolished the trade in 1807.

The Bakindick Youth Development Association’s 179 book library is on hold as they seek to find a suitable place while they entered the cashew business with support of a member now living in Italy. They too are planning to enter the soap making business.

"At times it is flattering to be the visible African American symbol to some Gambians, but at other times it is disheartening to continue with a project started by Europeans, work on a project with them, or know that the other project in town was completed by the Dutch, for instance, and not another American or African-American group," says Young.

As a pan-African group, POHGEP and associates also remember our common ancestors. Each of the libraries carry as a part of their name, the name of a SeneGambian-American to highlight our common history. The honored ancestors include Phillis Wheatley, Richard Pierpoint, and Ayuba Suleiman Diallo .

POHGEP handles it own travel expenses. Your donations go directly to our Gambian cousins.

You can learn more about the programs and make a donation online or mail in a check.

Note:  POHGEP is a 501c3 organization. Young pays his own transportation, food, and lodging fees. Your donation goes directly to the projects in The Gambia. Thank You.


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