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December 1, 2015

Join BKSK in making the Lambaye Learning Center a reality

Porch_700

Rendering of the Lambaye Learning Center’s porch.

This Giving Tuesday, George Schieferdecker and the other partners and associates at BKSK ask you to join our push in making the Lambaye Learning Center a reality. Learn more about the project and our current fundraising goal by reading George’s letter, after the jump.

 

Dear friend of BKSK,

For the past several years, BKSK has been involved in pro bono work to help conceive, design, and execute a learning center in Lambaye, a small rural community in the center of Senegal, West Africa. While community leaders are passionate about providing opportunity for the village, their current facilities remain rudimentary, serving a fraction of the population with limited means. The learning center will provide much needed educational opportunities for the whole community, young and old.

We are currently looking to achieve the project’s full funding goal, and we are appealing to our extended BKSK family to help make the learning center a reality.

How did we get involved? That history revolves around one extraordinary individual. A wonderfully energetic and committed teacher at my children’s high school, Amary Seck, approached us with the idea for the center and the need for architectural expertise. He had seen our renovation and addition for the local Mamaroneck Library, and he hoped we might help him and his students with their project.

Amary was born and raised in Lambaye, went on to school in Dakar, and then came to the United States. At first a taxi driver, he is now a much loved Professor of Chemistry at the high school in Mamaroneck, NY. He inspired students at the school to form a group, Students for Senegal, which is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural exchange. That group’s programming includes bi-annual trips to Amary’s hometown and fundraising for need-based gifts to the community. The group’s ambition continues to grow, leading the students to want to work with Amary and the people of Lambaye to build this learning center.

Several years ago, we began working with the students by conducting a series of workshops with community members in both Mamaroneck and Lambaye to find out what was truly wanted from a future learning center. This initial outreach and the subsequent conversations held with children, mothers, elders, educators, and other stakeholders in Lambaye resulted in a design that we are now ready to construct. The building provides classroom spaces, meeting rooms, an outdoor theater stage, a reading room, an open air teaching kitchen, a computer lab, and a children’s library. The design allows for enormous flexibility and supports multiple formats for learning, teaching, and skills training, in addition to providing for other community activity, engagement, and enrichment.

We have “boots on the ground”, so to speak, by means of Senegalese partners for architecture and structural engineering, as well as leaders within the town and local “sweat equity” at the ready. We have a learning center director ready to take the helm. We also have $90,000 in the bank through the diligent fund raising efforts of the students to date. What is needed now is to raise an additional $250,000 to make the center a reality, and BKSK has committed to helping with this effort.

In this season of thanks and giving, I hope you will help us with a small (or large) donation to Students for Senegal. Please visit our website or go directly to www.studentsforsenegal.org to see a fly-through animation of the learning center’s design and to learn more about Amary, Lambaye, the students, and their work to date. And please donate by clicking the “give now” tag.

Thanks so much,

George Schieferdecker, along with the partners and associates at BKSK Architects in New York City