More often lately the old saying 'It takes a village' has been at the back of my mind. Specifically, setting intentions for The Niombato Library Project and making it a space that will be welcoming for the community. These last three days in Toubakouta have been anything short of an adventure. Spending my mornings with Moussa Mane Director of Radio Niombato 91.1 FM and evenings seeking artists and teachers of the surprisingly large Mandeng community has been guiding me through my experience.
I will always remember meeting Samba teacher of Alalake and playing a rhythm which he quickly hopped on another Djembe and took lead. Immediately following he asked if I knew that it was in fact a Mandeng rhythm I was playing and sternly told me "You must know the rhythms which you play!"
After a 6 and a half hour voyage to Toubakouta and a day and a half of not feeling so great, the library is only but days away from having the shelves, tables, and chairs constructed. Waly is on his way with the rest of the books and a computer for the space, while Moussa and I took a trip to Le Centre D'Interprétation and talked about the future of the Library moving there.
In the meantime the books will be hosted by Radio Niombato with volunteers who are also Disco Jockeys. As I sit in the very room thinking of how to make it more attractive for the community, I know MY time is only a couple weeks away from letting them take the project into their own hands and letting that be something that I really only the community will be able to do. Until then I will do my best to remain present.
I've met my GoFundMe goal, delivered 80% of the books, and will begin development over these next 2-3 weeks but none of it would be possible without your support though so...
Its crazy to think this campaign started two years ago with just the desire to make it back to Senegal with a purpose really. Here I am now, planning to deliver the rest of books to the village of Toubacouta and connect with community members in Niombato.
The new resources that will be made accessible will hopefully encourage young people to continue their education and allow them to provide to their community what THEY see fit .
It wont end there... In fact I don't think it ever will!
As I sit in the Research Center thinking of all the resources THIS place has and what The Niombato Library Project has the potential to be; I'm reminded with a few dedicated people anything is possible! Plus I probably have over 200 books still at Albany Barn wanting a new home...
With persistence and much support I am just under $200 away from my goal by the grace of GOD. My latest donor has also been such a support to my personal and professional growth and I thank you!
I will be heading to the Medina Saturday with Waly to purchase the books on the course syllabus and leaving for Toubacouta Monday. These next 3 weeks will be a new space that I do not know exactly what to expect but I am open for it! I invite you to also enter a new and perhaps uncomfortable space; the outcome will be totally based on what you are willing to put in. Love supersedes.
What a great and true blessing it is to have all of the material shipped and delivered in good condition. With your help over 500 books will be going to The Niombato Library Project from the United States. Thank you!
The next two weeks will be dedicated to getting the infrastructure built, second hand books purchased, and planning delivery to Toubacouta. I have also been doing some outreach seeking partnership opportunities with organisations in addition to The Niombato Association. Who, I was fortunate enough to sit in on their monthly meeting this past weekend (talk about timing).
With just over 10% of the $3000 goal left, looking into used computers will be a shift of focus for the project once the material is successfully delivered. I'd also like to thank the latest donor for her $150 donation. You're so great!
Please continue to donate and share my campaign as we go into the development phase of the project.
My colleague Badara has told me I will be receiving the rest of the books from NY next week. In the meantime take a trip to Troy, NY and show Nine Steps Away To Africa some love!
What a week it's been! Many thanks to the latest donors Rebecca, David, Mike and Anonymous! The plan when the rest of the material arrives is to transport the books from Dakar to Toubacouta and begin building the shelves, tables, and chairs. Thank you all for your support. We are getting SO close!
Its almost been 4 weeks since shipping the books so I know they will be arriving soon. While waiting for them to arrive in Dakar I've been working here to collect more material and have even gotten some donated from a new friend who traveled all the way from Albany to Dakar to give them to me personally!
Thanks Sophia and the most recent donor Berta Sims for staying committed to my campaign. Every book and every dollar donated will truly make a difference in the success of this project.
In the meantime I've been working on a proposal for USAID and will be submitting with the request for Tablets from an Ivorian company called Qelasy which has some really great innovative educational applications that has been used here in Senegal and other countries for students.
This weekend I had the opportunity to travel with my friend Waly to visit his family in Niombato just minutes away from The Gambia and Toubacouta (great placement)! While there and sharing the space with what felt like family I had the opportunity to travel to a nearby Spring, watch traditional wrestling matches with community, and recorded Episode III of my trip here in Senegal.
Please take a minute to watch and visit the Facebook Sabali page for more updates. Don't forget even if you can not donate right now you can still sign up and stay connected via email. The Niombato Library Project website will be coming soon too! So...Thank you all for your continued support! Positive vibrations!
These last three weeks in Dakar have been quite an experience with its high's and low's, meeting different people and organisations, and getting some material from this side! Most of my time being in W.A.R.C. working on a proposal for Tablets from Qelasy (An Ivorian based company) and recommitting myself to this project for what may be several more years. The good news is we've begun to receive books from U.S. as well, (not what I've collected and shipped) but from my comrade who is affiliated with Narcotics Anonymous. Its been great to talk to people from Niombato who express the impact this Library will have. Reflecting on the privilege and resources I have and often take for granted has been a lesson I think I will continue to learn here. Please continue to support and help me get as close to my goal as possible any small amount will help!
Episode II - The Niombato Library Project [Senegal, West Africa] 2015: "GRATITUDE"
I've made it to Dakar safely! After 2 days of travel and transitioning to a 4 hour difference in time the first week has been bright and looks promising! Waly and I have begun outreach here for the Library and are planning to travel next week!
I've made it to Dakar safely and am working on transitioning to the Senegalese lifestyle! Wolof & French speaking, bargaining taxi prices, and FISH! Lot's of it actually... After traveling for 2 days I was completely jet lagged and a little delusional about what day it even was but am beginning to adjust quite nicely.
I can't believe its been 4 years already! Fortunately my friends here remember me from the initial trip. Waly and I have been planning and coordinating meetings with American and Senegalese orgs who may have more material and funds to donate which we will meet with next week to get more information about.
In the meantime I ask that my fellow friends and colleagues abroad connected continue to donate as I wait to hear back from BOOKS FOR AFRICA and their partners about the price it will cost to ship a pallet of 1000 books from them. Shipping typically takes about a month so please don't wait! I will be posting pictures of my first days here soon!
Episode I of The Niombato Library Project in Senegal 2015: "COUNTING DOWN". Please take a moment to watch and share the news! I will be leaving on the 14th of March but still have work to do for the next week. Any help you even consider is good and donating directly is GREAT! I will be working on securing digital media resources to ship with the books packaged. Thank you in advance.
Another week of quality work! I've completed the list of books that we will be shipping (95% French). Huge thank you to everyone involved in the last week from Mary Jane Books donating 3 boxes of awesome material, Phil Enriquez from Honest Weight helping me package and reinforce the boxes, to the most recent donations from Jake and Berta Sims! None of this could have been done without YOU! Every book, every dollar, and even question I've been asked has helped me develop and understand this project and myself more! I am leaving next month but I STILL NEED YOUR HELP. Please continue to donate and share, no amount is too small and I've only purchased a one-way ticket! Haha Love you mom!
This last week has been such an inspiring week filled with reflections and new goal setting. Two of the most relevant people in my life at this time have had birthdays this past week! Atito Gohi (drum instructor) and Waly Faye (Liasion in Senegal) and it has helped keep me grounded and focused!
I just finished putting the list of books to be sent together! What a relief to know the brunt of collecting and organizing is DONE! I am still expecting more books from Mary Jane Books but these boxes are FULL! (and heavy) so I think it's time to reinforce. Huge Thank You to everyone who has been so helpful these last 2-3 weeks! Badara Diagne, Mario Arthur, Rosy Galvan, Shanna Goldman, Berta Sims, Phil. Still so much more to do though! Please continue to support and share as we go into the shipping and receiving phase! See you soon.
What a great way to start the month of February it has been! Friends came over Saturday and Sunday this first weekend to help start organizing and documenting the books that I am only WEEKS away from shipping! Please don't wait to be a part of this project. I am planning another weekend evening with 6-8 friends who have laptops to help finish documenting! Any volunteers? SERIOUSLY! Food and music WILL be provided!
Hello and good morning! Another friend just donated $40 to this project! It feels like the 3rd quarter and I can't let up now. At this point I will begin looking for tablets or E-Books to purchase and ship with the books I've been collecting. The 2 shipping options are an overnight delivery which is a bit more pricey or by boat which can take a few weeks. So let's see how much more material I can acquire for the next 3 weeks. Luckily there is a Senegalese community with much experience with customs and shipping here in Alb's! Next stop: Mary Jane Books!
Happy Sunday! I just received $100 donation from fellow drum and dance mate Petra Langner. You've been so helpful already donating books and now directly since connecting with you at Atito and Lisa's classes. Thank you so much! See you Saturday.
I took a trip to visit Grassroot Givers in Albany, NY and I must say aside from the beautiful facility they have, the work being done here is remarkable! Truly a GEM hidden in the Capital District... I was beginning to feel overwhelmed receiving all the material thinking how will I ever keep track? Am I really about to set up a library based on the Dewey system in my house! The beauty of starting from the very beginning is we don't have any rules to follow but everything to learn from! So lets just go by subject or color hah. Any volunteers? Lunch on me. Two boxes of books to add to the collection and it is shaping up! Thanks Mary and everyone at Grassroot Givers for your great work in the Capital District Region! #Grassrootgivers #payitforward #liveworkinspire
What a great and refreshing weekend in the big city! It was filled with family, networking, self-analysis, and the power of intent. I know there is SO much more resonating with me subconsciously I will hopefully share as well.
Over the past week I've been able to connect with some local organizations and SUNY student groups who have books they will be allowing me to add/collaborate efforts to add to the collection!
Have you checked out the "Call For Books" event on Facebook? More specifics regarding appropriate material listed there in the link below! Thanks.
I've recevied 2 more donations from great people yesterday! Momentum is definitely on this side with OVER half of my goal being raised, BUT we are not done! Thank you friends, family, colleagues, EVERYONE for your support you are all helping to make this a reality! I've found PURPOSE and am navigating through the limitless universe with your help to make it a reality! #jerejef
Coming home last night to two individual donations was AMAZING! These have just put me over the half way mark! Thank you friends, every bit counts.
A few local businesses have also expressed interest in donating BOOKS. I will be collecting them until February which means YOU can pass along some of the knowledge you've had access to. Visit the Facebook "CALL FOR BOOKS! " page for more info.
Happy Sunday. I am just under halfway! With a $46 donation today I will reach $1500 raised. Don't wait! Please continue to support by donating any amount directly ($5, $10, $20), donating books, or sharing with a person who you think would be interested in my campaign. Thanks for all the continued support!
New grounds have been broken! In the past 2 days we've received a $75 donation and a French-Arabic-English Dictionary (in addition to some of the most recent World Atlas and Almanacs).THANK YOU! New communities of people and places have come into light, the universe is truly limitless! I will be aggregating a list of the books I've already received in the different languages to manage any duplicates easier.
Just came home to a $100 donation from a VERY special person who posted as ANONYMOUS! I wonder if she or he will let me spill the beans! DEFINITELY have to get some cool Sabali merch or something... I know who you are! #payitforward
Great day to receive a box of books from Boston University! Huge thank you to the African Studies Library on the campus and Beth Restrick for all of your work! See you in Grad School! Hah #youneverknow
Albany Barn Board Member Helena Heath stopped by last month's Sabali at Albany Barn's Stage 1 gallery and in addition to holding down the Shekere for a majority of the night purchased two raffel (intentional typo) tickets for this SINGLE Sabali Sweater. There are 250 tickets that are being sold for $1 a piece, the winner of the raffel will be announced at this months Sabali at Albany Barn. Find out how you can purchase tickets at the Sabali facebook page at www.facebook.com/sabaliofficial
After taking a long overdue trip to SUNY Albany campus this past week I met with Professor Debroah Lafond. Debroah is one of the Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award chair members and has helped me navigate 2 boxes of books from the libraries donation department. Thanks a bunch Ms. Lafond! Looking forward to connecting with the other members!
I've put the book drop off box back up at the Honest Weight Food Co-op. Friends in the Capital District Region PLEASE drop off any books you'd like to donate to this project there. We are seeking books that would be in the "Reference Section" in the library such as Dictionaries, Encylopedias, and Almanac's. **French Preferred**
All other books will be appreciated and may be considered for shipping.
**The box will only be there for a FEW SHORT WEEKS so make sure you stop by soon!
I'd like to thank everyone a part of Sabali this past weekend! 4 shirts were sold and 2 boxes of books donated! I'll be heading to the city to get more info regarding cost of barrels and volume in which the books will be shipped in. More info soon!
Quick PSA: If you have ordered a Sabali T-shirt I am expecting to get them in about 10 days. I apologize for the delay as I know you are probably excited to wear it... If you'd like to order one and support The Niombato Library Project you can pre-order online here by donating $20 or contact me directly for $15. Thanks in advance for your patience and support!
Only 8 more days until Sabali, a monthly celebration of traditional culture! Join us as Master Dancer/Drummer Atito Gohi leads with Ivorian drumming. Albany Barn's Stage 1 Art Space right in the heart of the Capital District Region! http://www.albanybarn.org/ai1ec_event/sabali/
Bring a book to help support The Niombato Library Project's book drive in Senegal, West Africa.
Books are being collected, funds are being allocated and awareness is raised! Please take a moment to learn more about this project and how you can get involved. For those of you in the Capital District Region don't forget to join us this Saturday for Sabali at Albany Barn's Stage 1 Art Space.
Public Service Announcement:
For the record NO! I've never helped build a library. I don't even speak French that Great! And I've never shipped or received ANYTHING internationally.
But what I do know is this NEEDS to be done. The foundation has been laid. This feeling of not knowing what to expect or the proper way to go about this project is one of the reasons I took it on. EXPERIENCE!
Perhaps I could be of assistance to a young revolutionary 30, 40, 50 years from now. Until then though I'm going to promise to do the best that I can. Join me in this journey!
Hey! In transition from one space to another new space which has in itself been exciting, stressful, and full of great experiences I've decided to move the location of Sabali this month to 56 Second St. SAME DATE!!
Saturday January 25th, 2014
Doors will open at 7:30pm
If you have any Reference books such as Dictionaries, Almanacs, Atlases, Thesauruses, OR classic novels written by African heritage authors or send them this way! French, English, Arabic, Wolof, are all acceptable.
We will be hosting a show SATURDAY, July 27 as a fundraiser for the Niombato Library Project. If you are in the Capital District Region you will not want to miss it, if you're not you may want to take the trip!
Just to clarify for those wondering the project will be pushed back to the fall to ensure we achieve our goal with no compromise. I encourage you to continue the donations, sharing of the page, and support!
We will be coordinating an event at the event of this month to raise funds in the capital district region that you wont want to miss.
More details to come soon!
"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet."
Please keep in mind EVERYTHING we do online, all performances, and photos is to help benefit our library project in Senegal. Take a minute to find out more about the project and what YOU can do to get involved and help provide access of resources to disenfranchised students.
I was hanging out in the station Friday night after work and ran into fellow WCDB DJ T_Wheels while doing his show Funky Corners. He was playing some soulful tunes and we decided to jam for a bit and started discussing the current library project we are working on.
Check out the interview as well as myself on the drums.
If there was one book you would incorporate into our library project what would it be?
Mine would be Manchild in The Promised Land; An autobiographical novel about Claude Brown, a young boy growing up in Harlem during the 40's and 50's who used education to get out but eventually come back and help his community.
Then Senegalese president Leopold Senghor began the World Festival of Black Art which would be held every 10 years. This Festival was designed to celebrate the richness and diversity of art and culture of Africans across the globe.
Lets keep the dream alive by celebrating the diversity of African culture!
I just applied for a grant from the African Studies Association which offers the shipment of books to countries abroad. This would fund the books shipment from here to Senegal saving the entire project cost close to $750.00....FINGERS CROSSED**
Tomorrow I will be meeting with the students interested in the Study Abroad program and where I will be telling them about my experience in Senegal! If YOU are interested or have any question about the "Cultures and Customs of Senegal" program contact me at SoundofRoots@gmail.com
The "Cultures and Customs of Senegal" program, which developed in 2011 lead by SUNY Albany, Union College, and Albany College of Pharmacy, introduced me to the Senegalese reality. While attending, I had the opportunity to visit several unique places in Senegal and became aware of the disparities adolescence and youth face within the varying educational programs available. Mr. Waly Faye (liaison in Senegal) and program director at the West African Research Center (W.A.R.C.) has (in addition to directing us through the Study Abroad program) been a resident of the Niombato village who helped identify the need of a touring library in coalition with the Niombato Students Association. Mr. Faye as the president of Participatory Action for International Development (PAID) has described to me his broader plan to support literacy and education for middle and high school aged students. Within the broader plan is a specific plan to support a travelling library that will be accessible primarily to middle and high school students without fees or charges.
The main goal is to allow people, particularly students of the community to have access to resources of knowledge and media outlets such as internet, books on their syllabus, general books, articles etc. The library will be settled in the easily accessible village of Karang in which Waly is a member of. In addition to the library center in Niombato there will be a touring part in each of the four villages with local middle schools hosting several of the books for two months before giving it back for another one.
The initial phase that consists of locating an area, identifying its needs, and implementing a plan to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the area based on the communities assets has been designed and implemented with the work of Mr. Faye and his position in the community. The second phase of the program, which encompasses fundraising, outreach, project analysis, book drives, and grant seeking has begun and will continue until the third and final development phase. This final stage, which will begin upon arrival in Dakar and begin with the purchasing of the requested amenities in addition to the development of the library in Niombato (Building shelves, tables, chairs, basic library/classroom development). I will be personally working with Mr. Faye from this point forward to deliver the books to the village as well as complete the final phase of the project which includes installing the library with the help of the Niombato Students Association.
Although some books may come from the United States there are large second hand book markets in Dakar that will be used primarily to purchase the books and materials required to create and sustain the project. The books received here will be used as additional books that will help develop the library beyond the needs of the students' basic course curriculum. Based on an analysis conducted $3000 will cover the three phases of the project, which will then be allocated to them as follows.
Computers/E-Books:::::::::::::::.$1,200 Travel/transportation::::::::::...$950* Shipment of books::::::::::::$500 Tables:::::::::::::::::$200 Chairs:::::::::::::::::$125 Bookshelves::::::::::::::..$200
*International travel expenses will total an estimated cost of $1,500 - $1,600. While transportation costs are included and state an amount lower than this the budget will include a portion of this amount in addition to an estimated $70-$150 transportation costs of delivering the materials to Niombato.
**Interested in donating books? Send them to Albany Barn in Albany's Arbor Hill downtown community
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