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

December 14, 2014

KK thumbnail_Nov 2014I returned home to snow-covered Winnipeg after almost five weeks in Ghana. This time the fear of Ebola was subsiding slightly as the country has so far been miraculously spared the ravages of the disease. Just the same, cautionary notices are everywhere. Airport officials meet all arrivals with temperature scanners and the movement of people to neighbouring countries has almost ceased.

The country’s biggest concern now is lack of electrical power, the worst that I have ever witnessed. Almost every day we experienced “light off.” All our libraries that operate in the evening now rely on generators.

Librarians' workshop was held at the new Korle Gonno library.

Librarians’ workshop was held at the new Korle Gonno Community Library.

Every November has its annual events and this year was no exception. Seventy-one library staff members attended a librarians’ workshop, our biggest attendance since we began in 2001. These workshops give librarians the opportunity to share what they do with their colleagues working elsewhere. Our local director Florence Adjepong gave a motivational keynote address — emphasizing that their roles as librarians are pivotal in the lives of children.

The 7th annual Sports Festival was an occasion where everyone came together to celebrate sport and fellowship. Football matches, Hula-hoop competitions, and A Tug of Peace are all mainstays of this popular event.

I was fortunate to witness young readers compete in the Madina library’s 2nd annual Kathy Knowles Reading Competition (a name selected by staff!). Participants sat with their freshly pressed school uniforms and eagerly awaited the judges’ questions.

Enjoying Grandmothers' Day in Goi

Grandmothers’ Day!

Grandmothers’ Day was held at the Goi library, the third of such events this year. Ninety-three grandmothers came! Their grandchildren welcomed them with songs, drama and dance, and the library walls were covered with grandmothers’ stories and drawings. Sally Bleecker, a Canadian volunteer, helped to orchestrate such a memorable day.

Accra's mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuije discuss the new library during the commissioning.

Accra’s mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuije and I discuss the new library following its commissioning.

The mayor was in attendance for the official opening of the Korle Gonno Community Library on November 19th along with hundreds of students, teachers and community members. The commissioning was slightly premature as the library wasn’t fully ready, but he was leaving the country the following day and wanted to be present. Everyone rushed around to prepare for its official birthday. One hour prior to the ceremony, we realized that the large tables didn’t fit through the stairwell to the second level. In response, the librarians and site foreman quickly erected a scaffold to hoist them up!

Roger Amenyogbe’s strikingly designed building adds a new focal point for the Korle Gonno community. Its warm earth tones with portions of the building clad in locally quarried stone tiles, along with a series of blue mosaic-tiled pillars and an extensive network of green-painted railings, are, in his words, “the icing on the cake.”

Signing in at the new library!

Signing in at the new library!

On December 1st children started pouring through the library’s front door, and enthusiastic staff members were there to receive them. They took delight in selecting books and finding a spot to read them — the junior’s section has lots of inviting places.

It was a joy to be part of the first few days and to take my turn reading stories, singing songs and introducing new games. Celebrating a new library is almost like giving birth but well beyond the nine months of preparation. I am thankful that the staff members are nurturing their new roles. Joana Anane-Nsiah, the head librarian, wrote today to say, “I love children and am so proud to be part of this vision.”

I am already looking forward to my return in April…

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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