port of harlem magazine
port of harlem gambian education partnership
POHGEP Helps Gambian Libraries Build Back Better
Jun 17 – Jun 30, 2021
byda books

may 2021 road work in Nema Kunku, The Gambia

With international assistance, including that from the Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP), the Balal Public Library, Ayuba Suleiman Diallo Education Center reopened in February and the Baobab Youth Development Association Phillis Wheatley Library reopened in June.

The Balal library (In Fula, Bala, means help) closed while getting renovation assistance from the European Union (EU) Youth Empowerment Project. They used the window frames and fans POHGEP provided to create a better space by installing the glass in the frames and installing the fans. Through an emergency fund to fight COVID19, the U.S. government is providing the library internet service.

Alhassan Bah, cofounder of the 165+ book library says the EU’s mission was to “improve the center so the center can train more young people.” With a better center, the EU hope less Gambians, will use the illegal “backway” to reach Europe.

The 528+ book Phillis Wheatley library closed as the Baobab Youth Development Association (BYDA) renovated their new office and library space. The current library includes one book stand of books with a second stand on its way. 

It will also include an internet access service and basic health services such as blood pressure and temperature readings. “The presence of the library has changed students behavior towards their education. They are now exposed to a good reading culture which will ultimately develop them personally,” commented Jabel Ceesay, BYDA Secretary.

The books in both libraries were donated by individual Port Of Harlem readers, book companies, libraries, and a school system. Most of the books are gently used; some are new. Once both stands are full, BYDA plans to begin a program where they will give the extra books to children in the village to take home and to share freely with others. This is in keeping with the wishes of one donor and a principal at the local school.

The BYDA has also been busy upgrading roads in the village before the rainy season comes to make them more passable.  Pass ability is important, especially for women about to give birth on their way to the local hospital.

BYDA also manages the POHGEP scholarship program. They are creating thank you videos for the first time.  Half of the donors have already received them. We are still working on creating the other videos.

The names of both libraries include the name of an early Senegambian American, Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Phillis Wheatley, respectively.  Both Senegambian-Americans are included in our West Africans in Early America exhibit online and at the Juffureh Slavery Museum in The Gambia.  POHGEP is working on a new per meant exhibit for the museum, From These Shores.

See Also: Gambia: Blaxid Embarks On Road Construction to Save Lives in Nema Jola Kunda

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