The tiny village of Njau is located deep in the interior of Gambia’s Central River region. The Gambia may be the smallest country on Africa’s mainland, but grandeur lies in its people; and nowhere is this fact more evident than in Njau. Njau is a shining example of community self-empowerment that has led to sustainable progress. What’s more incredible is the fact that this development has been spearheaded by the women of the village. From initiating a project that recycles plastic bags to purses, HIV/AIDS education, malaria eradication to adult education initiatives that has taught everyone in the community to read and write – the women of Njau have played a crucial part in the development of Njau. Their latest initiative – a computer center to go with the recently established library.
In 2008, Hand in Health in partnership with Books for Africa, embarked on a mission to bring 1 Million Books to libraries all around Gambia. So far, they have helped launch several small libraries, including the first medical in Gambia, and have delivered over 30,000 books. A library has been established at the Skills Center of Njau in partnership with the Njau Recycling and Income Generating Group (NRIGG). The Skills Center provides a space for learning, training sessions (including HIV/AIDS education, women’s health issues, sewing and other income generating activities), and a space for the entire community to gather and organize themselves. The village has collectively expressed the interest to start a computer lab in the Skills Center in partnership with Hand in Health.
Hand in Health is currently working with the cooperative in Njau, and other nonprofit organizations in the Gambia, to plan the implementation of the computer lab. This lab will consist of five desktop computers powered by solar panels. A satellite antenna will be used to connect these computers to the internet. The use of the computers will be free for all school-going children, thus providing them with the opportunity to expand their educational horizons. Other community members will be able to use the computers for a nominal fee, which will go towards paying the internet subscription bills, maintaining the computer center and paying a salary to the management staff. This model of setting up a computer center as a community-run social enterprise has proved to be sustainable in many rural communities around the world. This will however, be the first time a computer lab is set up in a village in The Gambia.
If you would like to learn more about Njau, and the amazing achievements of the community, I would highly recommend you read Miranda Paul’s post on Squidoo. You can also visit or volunteer at Njau, and experience it firsthand! From practicing your African dancing and drumming to picking up an impromptu game of football with local kids, you’ll experience a taste of true village life when you visit the villages in Gambia. Last but not the least, please consider supporting the 1 Million Books for Gambia project. Your donation can make a huge impact in the life of a child in Njau – from giving her a book, to opening doors and creating opportunities through a computer.