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

September 2014

Dear Friends,

DSC_0708_thumbnail KKI returned this week from a 17-day trip to Ghana. Ebola’s threatening presence was evident everywhere: bank tellers wore latex gloves; warning notices were posted in many stores, and churches were giving out information at their services. The country is also facing a cholera epidemic with thousands of cases and some fatalities. I was cautioned to be very, very careful.

Bright creates a mosaic mural along the front of the new library.

Bright creates a mosaic mural along the front of the new library.

I spent a great deal of time at OCLF’s newest library project in Korle Gonno, a densely populated fishing community on Accra’s coast. Tradesmen on the site take pride in their workmanship and this includes Edward Modzakah, our dear 78-year-old carpenter. In late August, after bringing all the completed solid wood doors for installation, he had to return them to his workshop when he realized the sea air with its moisture began to open up some of the joints. Bright Asare, our site foreman and head mason, is now creating a beautiful mosaic-tiled wall with designs of brightly-coloured fish. While progress is being made and the building is nearing completion, we are also mindful that this facility will need exceptional maintenance due to its proximity to the sea. Two attentive full-time cleaners are already there. We are hoping to open the library in November.

Enjoying OCLF's newest book: Fati and the Soup Pot.

Enjoying OCLF’s newest book: Fati and the Soup Pot.

In between visits to the site and procuring remaining construction materials – including combing the city in traffic to find red tiles for the mosaic wall and the tiled Canadian/Ghanaian flags – I spent time with children and staff at our various libraries. School children were on vacation so the libraries were full. There is no greater pleasure for me than to walk into a library and see children huddled around their favourite books.

Two libraries celebrated “Grandmothers’ Day.” Grandmothers came (along with one grandfather who asked if he could join!) and listened to their grandchildren read from their stories, looked at pictures the children had drawn of them and watched a program of cultural dancing. For most it was their first time to visit a library. To remember the day, both libraries will create a “My Grandmother” book. It was so successful that the librarians announced that next year we will have “Grandfathers’ Day!”

Actors from the Nsawam's Orthopedic Training Centre following their performance.

Actors from the Nsawam’s Orthopedic Training Centre following their performance.

The annual Library Theatre Festival was held on August 23rd. In addition to shows from seven libraries, we welcomed children from the Orthopedic Training Centre [OTC]. They performed Kwaku Ananse and the Unknown Assignment under the direction of our Nima Centre’s Martin Legend. Funding for this came through a grant from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation. It was moving to see the children play their roles with passion and conviction, as many of them were wearing their newly-fitted artificial limbs. Sister Elizabeth Newman, the woman in charge of the OTC wrote: “I was so proud of them…they were not shy because they had one leg or no legs… they were normal children who had worked hard and did well.”

The Nima Centre also put on four more shows, each one to a packed and enthusiastic audience. I know now to wear earplugs as the music is usually deafening. The outside signboard highlighting one of the performances invited guests to “Librarywood,” as a take on Ghallywood which represents Ghana’s film industry. It is exciting to witness local support for live theatre within a library setting.

Our libraries remain strong because our staff members are committed. A week ago, we gave a parting gift to the Nima library night watchman who kept the place secure for 10 years. Listening to his words of appreciation and his desire for the library’s continued success was heartwarming.

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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