Representatives from The Gambia tour various Yuba County facilities

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Sandeep Sidhu talked about the Crayon Kiosk iPad station with Chairman Foday Danjo, left, and Vice Chairman Yuba Jawara, right, of the Basse Area Council at the Yuba County Library on Jan. 20.

Following nearly a year of international communication, Yuba County administrators welcomed delegates from The Gambia last week to tour county infrastructure and facilities.

Upon browsing his social media feed, Basse Area Council Vice Chairman Yuba Jawara stumbled upon a social media page for Yuba County. Jawara said that he was amused to see that he shared a name with a region of California, and was inspired to learn more about the various programs and facilities in Yuba County in hopes of replicating them in his own city’s infrastructure. 

“I wanted to learn more and saw your administration system, your community works, the library, flood control and COVID-19 policy. … You guys are doing great. Yuba County isn’t big just like us, but you are more advanced in these public works,” he said.

Jawara and Chairman Foday Danjo visited different facilities on behalf of Basse Santa Su, a town typically known as Basse in the eastern region of The Gambia in West Africa. Yuba County Media and Community Relations Coordinator Russ Brown said that a relationship similar to that of sister cities has been established between Yuba County and Basse. 

The chairmen began their visit on Jan. 17 and were able to tour different agencies, such as the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office, New Bullards Bar Reservoir and the Yuba County Library among others. A relative of Jawara, Momodou Krubally, also accompanied the library tour.

Brown said that the chairmen were especially interested in the county library due to the scarcity of public libraries in Basse. While some private schools and high schools in the region have libraries for their students, obtaining books for a public library or for public schools has been challenging, Jawara said.

He said that a library could easily be constructed, but funding books, technology and event programs will be difficult due to The Gambia’s economic policies.

“It’s interesting to think that a million dollars is dedicated to just the library here. We have $800,000 to fund all public works in The Gambia. It’s a manual collection of revenue where people go door to door asking for money. There’s no law enforcing them to pay, and that’s why education is far behind,” Jawara said.

Sandeep Sidhu, administrative service officer for the Yuba County Library, started the tour in the children’s section of the library, highlighting features such as computers, iPads and various sections of books for children of different ages.

Sidhu believes that exposing children to the library while they’re young is crucial to ensuring that its services stay relevant to the public over time.

“Our goal is to get parents interested in coming to the library to keep their children interested,” she said.

Sidhu also highlighted the library’s partnership with local nonprofits to fund different services and public technologies. The “Crayon Kiosk” in the children’s section features a set of four iPads and headsets for young kids to use, which were acquired from a First 5 Yuba County grant, she said.

Children are able to play a set of educational games without access to the internet. Parents typically let their kids play on the library devices while they browse for books or use other services, Sidhu said.

Danjo believes that connecting Gambian students with updated technology is essential to improving the country’s education system.

“We are a developing country, and as time goes on, you’ll see change in our area. If we bring better internet and improved technology, by the time they are in elementary school or middle school, they will have mastered this technology. That will be a major step for our country,” Danjo said.

Aside from technology, Jawara said that books are the biggest need when it comes to starting a public library, but Krubally believes that administrative services must also be prioritized.

“We hope that one day we can get such a structure in our area,” Krubally said. “Books get sent to The Gambia, but the know-how, how to manage a library, we’ll need to start small to get things established.”

Upon their return to Basse, Jawara said that they hope to connect schools and other facilities with the necessary resources to improve the town’s infrastructure.

“As we move forward, this is what our citizens will expect and what we want to replicate. … We are gaining more and more knowledge to ensure that this area improves,” he said.

Source: Appeal Democrat News

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