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

Director’s Letter

April 22, 2014

Dear Friends,

Lardi, a friend I have known since 1998, visits the Korle Gonno site.

Lardi, a friend I have known since 1998, visits the Korle Gonno site.

I have just returned from another trip to Ghana which included launches of our four recently-published books, a leadership workshop for senior librarians, an excursion to see libraries in Northern Ghana, and numerous visits to libraries within the Greater Accra region.

The launch for Jennifer Goes to the Library took place at the Mamprobi Library, and 20-month-old Jennifer arrived as the special guest, along with her mother, Joyce Yeboah.

My Book of Stripes and See You Later followed with an afternoon of drumming and dancing at the Nima Centre. Children featured in My Book of Stripes were presented with their gift-wrapped copies and Edmund Opare, the illustrator for See You Later, received accolades for his magnificent and whimsical watercolour drawings.

Final scene of Abena and the Corn Seed

The launch for Abena and the Corn Seed, written by Vivian Amanor, the librarian at Goi, and illustrated with help from Calgarian Anu Guha-Thakurta, was a day to remember. In addition to speeches and dancing, the library’s theatre troupe – the Marvelous Performers – acted out the script in fine style. We were honoured to have Canadian High Commissioner, Christopher Thornley, and his family grace the occasion along with other invited guests.

It was meaningful to travel to the north. Volunteer Haruna Nuhu has offered a library program to the children of Tuutingli, an outlying village of Tamale, for 10 years. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon he gathers about 60 children who come to read in a school classroom. His commitment runs deep as he extends his generous and gracious heart. Adam, a “pioneer” of the library from its beginning, says it is now his turn to give back and helps Haruna.

Reading A is for Ampe in Wurishie.

In another district of Tamale, Razak Dramani runs the Wurishie Library/cum school in a family compound. Children are crammed into corners and divided according to their reading abilities. Razak’s enthusiasm and his desire to offer education to these children – many of whom do not attend school – is making a difference. Razak and I met with the mayor, and we are hoping for the district office’s full support to establish a more permanent library. Land was released years ago for this purpose. However, receiving the government’s commitment in writing to meet staff salaries, utilities and ongoing expenses must be there first.

During my library visits in Accra I read with children and met with staff members to hear about their recent activities – workshops, book making, quilting, science clubs, and reading initiatives with nearby schools – and also to understand their individual concerns. Transportation costs are a significant problem as there have been three recent fare increases.

Korle Gonno Community Library

The Korle Gonno Community Library is nearing completion with only the finishing details remaining. Last week, Rosetta Sackey, the Ghana Education Service Director for Accra, said how pleased she was to see such a fine facility for the children in that community. It is looking more striking with each passing week, and the view from its upper levels is awesome with the sea only 100 yards away. However, construction by the sea requires extra attention and problem solving. Who could have anticipated that on a sunny day tiny droplets of salinated water would come down the mosquito netting onto the wooden window frames and outside walls! We are planning for a November 2014 opening.

I was featured on Ghana’s Viast 1 TV station and spoke about the importance of libraries. I also made a presentation to the North American Women’s Association. Each bit of exposure helps to spread news of our efforts and to emphasize the role libraries play in their communities.

I was encouraged by the progress of our libraries and the commitment of our staff. One poignant moment came when a gardener at the Nima Centre asked me to visit each corner of “his” garden. He is striving to make it the most beautiful garden in Accra, and he is almost there.

Warmest wishes to you, our many supporters, for making OCLF’s outreach possible,

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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