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

Reflections: Stephi Bell

Stephi teaching the recorder with members of the Kathy Knowles Community Library.

I am 18 years old, and I come from Ottawa, Canada. I volunteered at the Kathy Knowles Library in Osu, Accra for five weeks in the summer of 2009. Spending my days in this wonderful environment was an indescribably wonderful experience, and I plan to return as soon as I can.

As part of the daily activities we organized for the children, I brought 80 recorders from Canada to begin some music classes for the children. It was fascinating to see how quickly they picked up the instrument, and I was touched by their obvious enjoyment of the classes. The recorders were kindly donated by the Ottawa Folklore Centre, whose representatives were very moved by the thank-you cards sent by the children.

As well as the afternoons that I spent in the company of the children, what I enjoyed most about my time at the library was teaching the adult literacy classes. The people I met through these classes were truly inspirational, and highly motivated in their work. I was very impressed by the progress my own class made during my short stay, and I am sure they will continue to advance under the guidance of the other teachers.

This organization is doing amazing work in many communities, and I encourage anyone who is considering a volunteer placement in Ghana to contact the OCLF, and to learn more about what is expected of volunteers. The children benefit a great deal by having access to books and by individual attention with their reading, and the free literacy classes are working wonders in the illiterate population of Ghana.

I was very well looked after by Joanna Felih, the librarian at the Osu library, both at the library and during my stay at the volunteer guesthouse. Staying in the guesthouse gave me a taste of real Ghanaian daily life, while at the same time being completely safe, and very comfortable. This was my first experience volunteering for a length of time away from home, and it could not have gone better.

Stephi Bell