January 7, 2022

Lambaye Learning Center’s Positive Impact

Lambaye Learning Center and its positive effects on the community was highlighted during a segment on a Senegalese news show. The 4,000-sf community Library and Learning Center has radically changed the lives of the village residents; it has given the locals access to education, technology, and training. Center programs include robotics classes, computer coding, fabric dying, and other job training programs. Since its completion in 2020, the Lambaye Learning Center has been a place inspiring and fostering educational programs for a community that has been unserved. It is a tribute to the dedication of the Mamaroneck high school group Students for Senegal, that has constantly searched for new and different ways to benefit the community of Lambaye.

With ongoing ties to the community through Students for Senegal we know that the Center has affected and will continue to affect the community profoundly.  This group of flexible spaces have provided opportunity, even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a simple building that manages to achieve an architectural, social, economic, and cultural presence through limited means. The space holds a plethora of resources specifically for children and women to develop fundamental skills for future advancement. It is opened 7 days a week and has 2 permanent staff members maintaining the facilities for community members to come and go as pleased.

In 2021, an international competition brought computer coding education to over 50 students. About 95% of the students participating in all center-wide programming had never used a computer before. The Lambaye Innovation Challenge, an innovative cross-cultural program designed to increase access to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math education created a yearlong expert-guided workshop series. Students have had access to STEAM experts and have developed solutions to local issues. Team of students developed a total of 20 projects including a mobile application for the declaration of children at birth, electronic system to fight against cattle theft, and an ecological garden based on the recycling of objects and bio fertilizers. In the second clip in this post, BKSK Partner, George Schieferdecker had a part in getting the challenge going and serves on the Board for the nonprofit that supports the Learning Center.

The Women’s Center programming is geared to uplift the women in the community and promote women’s financial autonomy through training, and overall better living conditions for the people of the surrounding communities. Many women are raising their families on their own as their husbands are away, working in the city. For this very reason, these women either do not have access to jobs or do have some employment opportunities but lack the necessary skills. Learning new fabric dying techniques has allowed these women to sell products in the local market. The Center is working on outreach to develop similar initiatives for older adults.

Prior to the Center, the community did not have a large, general gathering space; now surrounding organizations can reserve the space for events. More and more the Center has been gradually integrated into people’s everyday lives even if there are not any schedule programs or meetings. There is a middle school located around the corner from the Center and students usually trickled into the space after school to work on assignments or even just to hang out. In 2020 during the start of the pandemic, the space was used to print PPE and face shields with the in-house 3D printers—4000 to 5000 face shields were created.

Students for Senegal has turned its attention to funding efforts at establishing more cross-cultural educational programs and has succeeded in securing grants for these, including a $25,000 award from the U.S. State Department in 2020 to utilize the building as a regional center for STEAM education.  One of the key elements in the success of those efforts is the boots on the ground approach now clearly demonstrated by the physical fact of the center.

We’re excited to see this great work continue into the new year.