2016 updates from Nianiar | Photos – July through September
(content used from a document Louise Huang, from Yes Akademia, wrote to Clydette de Groot)
Nianiar is a village of around 1000 inhabitants in rural Senegal, situated in the Mbour region, near Louly Bentégné. This project, of constructing a library, aims to bring the gift of reading to those people living in the village, to improve their quality of life and their education.
The project is the dream of Louise Huang, a former laureate of Global Potential’s 18-month flagship programme in France. Determined to bring this project to life, Louise has been working hard on it for a year, after she saw first-hand the locals’ need for a community library in this small village, 13km away from Mbour (the nearest city). Many of the local people have difficulties with grammar and spelling, which brings difficulties and prejudices throughout their entire education.
Working with Global Potential in France, local partners and other funders, the project is coming to life. The local young people can’t wait to have a space to call their own, where they can go and read and learn. They, and we, thank you for your help in making this library a reality.
Problems Surrounding Education in Nianiar
- In Senegal, the official language is French, however daily life is conducted in Wolof, Serere or another local language. Due to this, local young people are not used to communicating in French. Reading would help them to gain grammar and spelling skills, which would develop their French language skills, and would help them in their academic studies which are conducted in French.
- Nianiar is a rural village. To get to the nearest school, it is nearly an hour’s walk. To make the time pass more quickly, they could take a book from the library to read on the way!
- Some families in the village don’t share the same importance of education as maybe those in the United States or France. Reading helps to foster this mentality and a culture of learning, encouraging people to be more aware of the value of education, which may in turn spur them on to pursue further studies.
- Opening your mind: reading allows young people to open their minds, and to better understand the world around them. Reading provides introduces people to different points of view, philosophies and cultures.
- Poor school attainment is a big problem in Senegal, and in particular in Nianiar. Nearly all of the young people in Nianiar have to re-sit their exams several times before they pass. School books could be helpful for those in the village, as their current books and even teachers aren’t always competent.
- Fun! Young people in the village get bored of sitting around and drinking tea all afternoon, and there isn’t really a communal space where people can gather. Reading could be a source of entertainment, and the library will provide a place to meet and be together, whilst learning!
The People of Nianiar
The village of Nianiar is made up three main neighbourhoods: Koalack, Mbindjiallan and Ndourndour. In each neighbourhood, there are a mixture of Christian and Muslim families living side by side.
Whilst there is no electricity or running water in the village, and the local people often live in harsh conditions, the people of Nianiar take community seriously and can often be seen sharing together and laughing around a cup of Senegalese tea.
Their view of “family” doesn’t just include their immediate relatives, but also includes those around them, who they live alongside and share life with. The people of Nianiar are generous, warm and welcoming.
Committee members met with the Mayor of Sandiara twice, and he gave the authorization to construct the library and said he would inaugurate the library upon completion. A Spanish donor was contacted to potentially donate to the project upon completion of wall construction, estimated to be in August, 2016.
In April, 2016, a forum was organized by the village youth committee has given leaders of the village an opportunity to draw attention to the importance of a library in the village, and raise awareness about how necessary it is to participate in the project. The youth committee also asked other associations within the village to contribute monetarily to the project.
July, 2016: A site visit occurred where the youth committee met to review project activity between April and July. Construction, review of the budget, monetary donations and book donations were discussed. Towards the end of the month, the village youth were mobilized to help weed the land around where the library will be built.
August, 2016: Constructing and building the walls.
September, 2016: Meeting with the Mayor of Sandiara. Discussing the project in detail and why it is so important to the entire village community.
Meeting with the committee in Nianiar: 3 month action plan; fundraising goals; outreach to Spanish donor and to the Mayor for his donation to the library.