So grateful to have a connection to people with a genuine regard for not only each other but of the things we are mutually driven by; freedom, expression, and justice. It's been just over 2 months since I've come back from Senegal and know that my service in Afrika and it's people is not finished.
My good friend in the hills of Grafton, Leah dropped off some books from Soul Fire Farm to add to the collection I already have stored in my space which, soon will have to be sent to a place with better use. This GoFundMe campaign was the beginning of The Niombato Library Project and rightfully should continue to be a source of information and funding. How great it has been to continue seeing the growth of this seed from where it was planted to now and hopefully well into the future by the grace of god!
After asking for clarity, meditation, and prayer I know that waiting for the ideal time sometimes doesn't look like what we imagine. Sometimes we have to sit still, be quiet, and just listen to what the universe has been whispering. My experience and connections can't be taken away and the work that can be done here can be just as impactful as my physical presence with faith and hard work...
That all being said I will be opening this campaign and pick back up on the book drive this Fall and invite you to join me! Oh and thanks so much Leah and Jonah for the books!
Super excited to be launching Taylor Hill Foundation Inc.'s website with the primary initiative of course being The Niombato Library Project! Please take a minute to browse around the site. It is just the beginning so I will definitely be continuing to develop it more. Any and all feedback, questions, or concerns are welcome feel free to send an email or post to the link provided! #TaylorHillFoundation #NiombatoLibrary #SABALI
Apparently my latest video post was not visible to many people and I sincerely apologise for any confusion. I've uploaded my latest post that surely will not conflict with the copyright law as it is my music. Take a minute (or three) to check out my latest video post and share. Thanks so much for your patience and I apologise for keeping you waiting. Episode 5: Opening Ceremony!
I'm probably only going to ask once or twice because the original goal has been met. I recall talking to my brother about this campaign and raising the amount (I thought it was a little too ambitious but certainly understand now). Travel, food, housing, and even giving something to my colleague to help support the library after I depart are some of the few things I now know to include in my NEXT campaign. I have left this one open and would like to encourage you to donate any amount. It will not only help me get through the 4th quarter but returning back to NY safely. Please don't wait! Your $10 for lunch today will really go a long way and I've got so much to share with all of you, peace of mind will definitely make it a lot easier to do!
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!
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