Sharing the Joy of Reading with an African Child
for 25 years

Helping in Canada

OCLF values our dedicated volunteers. They help in a variety of ways.

In 2006, volunteers help to load a 20-foot shipping container full of books.

In 2006, volunteers help to load a 20-foot shipping container full of books. Joan is at the left.

Joan Graham (left) and Kath Parry busy at work at 188 Montrose Street in Winnipeg.

Joan Graham (left) and Kathy Parry busy at work at 188 Montrose St., Winnipeg, Canada

In 1997, I learned of the Osu Children’s Library Fund through a newspaper article asking for books. My daughter and I took over some books, met Kathy and heard about her libraries. I said I would be interested in volunteering. Kathy phoned the first week of January 1998.

Since then, OCLF has grown from two libraries in the Greater Accra Region to eight. Kathy has published over 40 books. At the time of my first visit to Ghana in 2001, there were hardly any picture books reflecting African children.

During my first visit I took part in the adult literacy classes and listened to learners read from their exercise books. I remember a story told to me by one of the learners, a trader in the market. This woman recently went to the bank to make a deposit. Instead of using her usual thumbprint she told the teller she could now write her name. The bank officer was so impressed and asked where she learned to write.

My 17 years of volunteering for OCLF has been rewarding. Happy 25th!

Joan Graham, volunteer

Note: Joan’s only son Paul was tragically killed in a car accident in Ghana the previous year. The books Joan brought over when we first met belonged to her sonKathy Knowles

Kathy Knowles and I met at a friend’s gathering of Winnipeggers who had lived and worked in Ghana.  She introduced me to Osu Children’s Library Fund, and in 2001 I joined the other volunteers. As volunteers we have been involved with many developments and changes that have taken place over the years. Kathy has initiated many fund-raising projects, two of the most successful being the on-going “Library in a Bag” project and the “Chair Campaigns.”

The publication of Kathy’s books has been an exciting experience.  The amount of talent, time and energy that is given for each book is enormous.

OCLF has contributed greatly to literacy, especially in Ghana, but to me, the adult literacy classes are a highlight.  Receiving a smudged letter, painfully printed in block letters from a gentleman of 64 years, to say thank you for giving him the opportunity to learn to read and write adds another level to the value of this organization.

From a basket of books in the garden to eight new, free-standing libraries in Accra, and many smaller libraries throughout the country, your 25 years committed to “Sharing the Joy of Reading” have been a huge success. Congratulations!

Kathy Parry, volunteer

Alice with her husband, Ed, and Zainabu following a book launch.

Alice with her husband, Ed, and a library member

Volunteering with the Osu Children’s Library Fund has brought many joys and satisfactions over the years, not the least being part of such a worthwhile organization that daily works to change and improve the lives of children and adults in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana by bringing them the gift of literacy. Our eight free-standing libraries have over time become more like community centres, thanks to the range and depth of programming offered by our talented and dedicated librarians.

OCLF is also fortunate to have an extraordinarily faithful donor base that over the years has developed into a kind of large extended family, at least in the eyes of the small core of Canadian volunteers.  One of Kathy’s rules from the beginning has been that each donation be acknowledged with a handwritten thank you note and this is where I have found my niche as a volunteer.  I have always enjoyed writing letters and it is such a pleasure to write to donors personally year after year, bringing them up to date on the latest developments and letting them know just how their generous donations will be used.  It feels as if I am writing to friends.

Alice Moulton, volunteer

Deborah with keen readers at Mamprobi.

Deborah with keen readers at Mamprobi library

I first met Kathy in 2000 when I travelled to Ghana to interview her for an article in Reader’s Digest. We spent 10 days visiting libraries around the country and I was so impressed by what I saw, I offered to help in any way I could. Kathy took me up on it and, since then, I have made 15 visits to Ghana. Between visits, I also help out on the home front as well. It has been the most rewarding experience and I feel privileged to be part of the large OCLF family.

Deborah Cowley, volunteer



Note: Deborah Cowley and I were almost inseparable during her many trips to Ghana over the years. Many thought we were sisters and others, twins! Her contributions, both during her time in Ghana and at home in Ottawa, are significant. Writing The Library Tree was a labour of love. Kathy Knowles