BFA and A Hand in Health Partner to Stock Libraries in The Gambia

Date Posted: Friday, January 7 2011 10:19 AM

Three boys show off the BFA books they were given as a reward for helping set up a community library in The Gambia.

The Sulayman Junkung General Hospital is one of four hospitals that serve the 1.3 million people of The Gambia, West Africa. It was founded in 2003 with the hope that it would become a state-of-the-art teaching facility. But unreliable electricity and minimal resources have made this goal difficult to attain.

Enter Megan Meyer, a student and aspiring dentist from Minnesota who was inspired to make a difference after participating in an immersion program in The Gambia in 2006. Meyer founded the nonprofit A Hand in Health, and raised the funds to ship half a sea container of BFA books in 2010. (The U.S. Embassy in Banjul funded and distributed the other half of the shipment of books.)

Fatu, the head dental nurse, and Megan Meyer, director of A Hand in Health, show off dental books collected from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.About 7,500 BFA books were used to establish the Sulaymn Junkung Medical Library, the first public medical library in all of The Gambia, and create a first-class community library. Meyer and her partners are now hard at work on phase two of the 1 Million Books for Gambia project (read their blog here), which will deliver BFA books to local schools, hospitals, and libraries around the country and help improve the 40.1% literacy rate in The Gambia.

Nurses from the morning shift help shelve books and check out the new collection.