December 9, 2016
I returned from Ghana just in time for Winnipeg’s first major snowstorm. During my visit I saw countless individuals pass through our library doors. The majority were children who came to read storybooks and listen to story times. I also met adults who attend our literacy classes, students who flock to our study halls, and theatre members who take their rehearsals seriously.
November included many exciting programs. The Mamprobi Gale Community Library held its first Food & Arts Exhibition. Their library was decorated with amazing art, including a life-sized papier-mâché mermaid. Staff members displayed platters of food and local drinks on a hand-beaded “Joy of Reading” tablecloth, and dancers kept the audience entertained for five hours, and this is no exaggeration!
I attended Korle Gonno Community Library’s 4th monthly Visiting Writers Series [VWS] with Ghanaian writer Samelia Bawuah as their invited guest. She read from her novel, invited questions from the audience, and assigned a creative writing activity. Samelia wrote, “The VWS is laudable. It spotlights writers in a way the media doesn’t do in Ghana. Your team is doing wonders for these children … reading, building memories. I can only say Wow!
The Accra College of Education Community Library held its 4th reading competition. This year the organizers included zonals leading up to the final event. Ghanaian students and their teachers adore competitions, and they are proud of their participation in this annual event.
Our first library, built from a 40-foot shipping container, is undergoing a major renovation with a new roof and ceiling and the installation of a tiled floor. Our remarkable carpenter, now 81, continues to inspire me with his ability to take on new jobs. He is now replacing all the window frames, ones he initially installed when the library was first built in 1992.
One poignant moment was meeting past members of the Kathy Knowles Theatre Company from our Nima Learning Centre. They are now in their 30s; some are professional actors while many others are earning an income based on their theatre experience. They are giving a special performance to honour seven members who have tragically passed away. Their statement reads, “These gone souls have contributed to the growth and achievement of the theatre company and still fill the vacuum in our hearts. We shall forever be grateful for their service to mankind.”
Another special moment was meeting Moses, an elderly man who walks with the assistance of a cane. He expressed his gratitude for being able to visit our library every day to read the newspapers, an opportunity he wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise.
Vivian Amanor, our librarian at Goi, was thrilled when I invited her to come to Canada in May/June of this year. She is most deserving of this opportunity as she is the most passionate person I know when it comes to books and their transforming power. We are already planning speaking engagements in Ottawa and Winnipeg where she knows several Canadians who have come to Goi to volunteer.
Three weeks ago, Martin Adjei Legend, OCLF’s long-time theatre director, received the thrilling news that he was one of only 30 individual selected for South Africa’s International Cradle of Creativity program next May. This is a significant step for him and our entire theatre outreach.
I returned home to Canada with letters of appreciation from children. Michael, 12, wrote, “I and my friends went to the library to read, but I don’t like reading so they brought me a book to read and the tit(t)le of the book is Jennifer Goes to the Library. I was just looking at the picture(s) of the book. But now I like to read and write stories and draw on my own.” His words convey the importance of luring children into the written word with meaningful books and accessible language.
I join our library staff, library members and volunteers in wishing you our warmest greetings for this season of joy and for peace in the coming New Year.