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

Director’s Newsletter

February 2010

Dear Friends,

I returned in mid-December from a seven-week visit to Ghana and I am happy to bring you up to date. Visits to our libraries are always special and I was pleased to see them running so well. Staff members continue to work hard with enthusiasm and several libraries now receive help from National Service Personnel – graduates from universities who are assigned nine-month placements. Foster, a NSP, initiated an Awareness Club for library members 10 years and older to discuss growing-up issues. I sat quietly at one meeting and marvelled at how these young Ghanaians shared their concerns.

We have another new library project on the horizon. It is in Madina, a densely populated area in north Accra, and will directly benefit 23 neighbourhood schools. My friend Roger Amenyogbe, a Ghanaian-born Canadian architect, has completed the drawings and as of this month, they have started excavations. Kojo MacLean, the project manager, is overseeing the details with utmost precision as he has for several other OCLF libraries. They are now preparing an official sod cutting ceremony to celebrate the beginning of a new library.

A year ago, we gave support to a large government school in Taifa, a community on the outskirts of Accra. Patience Felih, their librarian, has the students spellbound as she takes her turn going from classroom to classroom reading stories. I sat in on a Grade I class of 90 students where she read Henny Penny. Despite the list of characters with unfamiliar names – Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey and so on – the children eagerly did their best to call out the characters as she proceeded with the story.

Sophie directing a rehearsal

Before my visit, I came across The Orphans of Qumbu, an African opera by Michael Williams of South Africa. My daughter, Sophie, a Fine Arts graduate with a major in voice, travelled to Ghana with me and assumed the role as music director. She, along with the talented theatre director Martin Legend, auditioned the children, selected a cast, taught them the music by ear and pulled together three remarkable performances. Martin wrote, “We are so proud and excited to be the first to introduce an opera production to our community.” Orphans of Qumbu

Sophie and I travelled to the Upper East Region of Ghana to visit the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. It was wonderful to see a different part of Ghana and to experience paddling down the Black Volta, sleeping under stars and on a tree platform and, like all my trips around Ghana, to meet the people from the area. Later this year we will be releasing a new photo-illustrated book called Mumaizu and the Hippos. Muzaizu is a young boy and he accompanied us along with his father, an excellent guide, on our journey.

Every November, we hold a meeting and workshop for all library staff. This year, Abigail Elisha shared her experiences of her trip to Canada in April/May 2009. She organized an activity for everyone to make a book about balloons, one of many activities she learned in Canada.

The annual sports festival brought together 140 members from five different libraries, and they played on teams marked by colours rather than their own communities. Their enthusiasm for the games and activities ended with a lively dancing competition accompanied by music belting out from mega-sized speakers.

The activities that I have described are only possible with the ongoing financial support of our donors and the exceptional efforts of our library staff. Of course, it is the eagerness of the thousands of young readers and the desire of literacy learners to move forward that provide the energy behind OCLF. I look forward to returning there later next month.

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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