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

Director’s Letter

December 2011

Dear Friends,

Ribbon was jointly cut by Kathy and a representative from the Ministry of Education.

I arrived home a week ago after a six-week stay in Ghana. The highlight of my visit was opening OCLF’s newest and biggest library on the Accra College of Education compound. This library serves the community of Madina where there are dozens of schools. During my visit in May I decided that the library would only open when authorities implemented traffic slowing measures on the library’s busy street. This took several agonizing months of calls and messages, but the job finally started the day I returned. We then quickly organized the commissioning, sent out invitations to various dignitaries, and prepared the staff.

The library was wrapped up to look as beautiful as possible in preparation for its opening – balloons, ribbons, flowers and cloths were everywhere!

On November 16th the library was decorated with balloons, cloths, ribbons, flowers and even the trunks of the trees were given a coat of paint!  The ceremony was celebrated with singing, dancing, speeches and the presence of 50 librarians and supporting staff. Many excited children arrived the next day and soon the place was filled. By the time I left, it was functioning well under the leadership of Matilda Mercer Yeboah, the head librarian. Other OCLF libraries are running well thanks to their dedicated and hardworking staff. I visited them as often as I could and was thrilled to see how they were thriving. November is the month for the annual librarians’ workshop, the sponsored walk and the sports festival –all occasions to meet with librarians and library members.

Launching Akosua’s Gift, OCLF’s newest book, was another highlight. Angela Christian’s story is about Akosua, a young girl, who makes a water pot as a gift for her sister’s wedding. Edmund Opare’s exquisite and vivid illustrations brought the story to life. The Kathy Knowles Theatre Company continues to flourish under the tutelage of its remarkable young director, Martin Legend. Not only does he direct but he writes exceptional plays. Martin was delighted with the news that he has received a grant from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation for his proposal, Theatre: An Essential Tool for Human and Community Development. This provides funding for a variety of projects including an in-country tour for his 30-member company.

Adult literacy classes are increasingly popular. At one library there are now close to 50 eager learners. They happily sit around crowded tables ( initially designed for young children) to learn how to read and write. We invited a doctor to speak and the sessions were so popular that the learners didn’t want to leave! The students also learned to dye cloths using the batik process, thanks to a generous donor (see picture at left).

We were encouraged by the continued cooperation of the Ghana Education Service [G.E.S.], our partner for the newest library, and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly [A.M.A.], a partner since 1998. Paying staff salaries and utilities are both crucial to sustainability, and we were pleased that the A.M.A. has finally increased salaries. I met with Accra’s mayor and the budget officer for the G.E.S. who showed me a site for a new community library. Like other OCLF library localities, it is in a deprived area of Accra with no library services. The budget officer and I shook hands to secure a promise by both parties. Now, we await written confirmation from the G.E.S. to put their pledge for salaries and utilities in writing. This step is important! Books come alive for children who pass through our library doors. Opportunities for creative expression are encouraged too. Children know that they are always welcomed guests, and in many cases the library becomes their second home.

Your support allows us to continue to transform lives through the power of literacy. Ottawa volunteer Deborah Cowley (L), OCLF’s first librarian Joanna Felih (R), and I join our library staff and members along with OCLF’s team of committed volunteers to send you our warmest greetings. If you would like to be notifed of subsequent twice-yearly newsletters please contact kknowles@mts.net

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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