Author: Nicole Soucy, Senior Writer, Bay Path College
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—From donating funds, ensuring little girls in Africa can attend school, to supplying books for an empty library, the Bay Path College community has opened the doors to a new relationship with the Sajuka Community School in Barra, The Gambia, Africa. Last year’s successful Bay Path College/Sajuka School Library Initiative Book Drive garnered nearly 3,000 books for Sajuka students, while the Bay Path Scholars Program funded the tuition payments for 10 young girls who now attend the African school. Today, the Bay Path community is expanding its partnership with the school. This January, Sajuka Community Development Project Co-Directors Nyillan Fye ’09, G’11, of Laurel, MD, and John Jarvis, PhD, who serves as professor of English and communications at Bay Path, will be joined by Bay Path junior Jessica Toner of Madison, CT, and senior Kelly MacIntyre of Agawam, MA, as they travel overseas to assess the greater needs of the Sajuka schoolchildren. The group will provide an evaluation of supplies as well as curricula support.
“A supportive and dedicated community, Bay Path has enabled us to do more for Gambian children than we had initially hoped,” said Fye, who organized the book drive initiative. “In a matter of months, we have established a library filled with books for all ages, are sending 10 young girls to the Sajuka Community School, and are now moving forward to enhance education efforts for Barra children as well as Bay Path students.”
Fye will arrive in The Gambia several days prior to Jarvis, Toner, and MacIntyre. While Jarvis and Fye are working on the needs assessment, Toner, who is majoring in early childhood education, will evaluate the curriculum and provide advice on enhancements to the program. “I’ve always seen myself working in the field of education with underserved populations, and it has been a dream of mine to work with children in Africa,” said Toner. “Bay Path has given me many opportunities to succeed, and this is just another opportunity Bay Path has given me to fulfill my dream of making a difference in the lives of others.” MacIntyre, who is pursuing a liberal studies degree with a communications minor, will videotape and record their work at Sajuka.
MacIntyre’s footage will be used to produce a video presentation outlining the goals the group has accomplished and the objectives they intend to achieve in the following years, which include expanding the Sajuka vocational school and developing e-businesses for Sajuka teens. When they return to Bay Path on January 18, 2010, they will begin the process of establishing Sajuka as a nonprofit organization. “Through this nonprofit, we have an opportunity to do great things for the Gambian children, and bring the community of Barra into the 21st century,” said Jarvis, who noted the average annual income for Barra families is $384. “By enriching the lives of youths and teens in Barra, and having Nyillan serve as a role model, we can open their eyes to the endless opportunities education provides them and in return, they will create sustainable, community development.”