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

Reflections: Susie Sarrasin

Susie visits a library her daughter Melissa designed for Goi.

Susie and husband, David, fundraise for OCLF by making perogies with friends and church members from St. Malo

In February 2009, I began my unforgettable journey as a volunteer to the library in Goi, Ghana. I feel deeply rewarded that I was given this great opportunity to be a volunteer. To fulfill my hopes of one day travelling to Africa and volunteer with the children and secondly to see and visit the library my daughter, Melissa, designed for the community.

My feelings towards the journey were that of excitement, impatience but yet apprehension. I have done much travelling in my time, however, never on my own nor so far from home. Many a day, I asked myself, “Am I crazy?”, “What am I doing leaving all by myself?”

I was accepted into the community with open arms and introduced on many occasions as the mother of the architect. I was officially adopted by the community of Goi and given my African name “Amakie”, meaning first born.

I spent the majority of my time with the children reading stories, doing a Valentine project and building the Goi Library Tree of Life, a quilting project I introduced to them. I also spent time with them walking around the village and playing with them on the beach.

My time spent in Goi with the children and my short stops to talk with the villagers at their homes showed me the abundant respect, loyalty and strong commitment these people have for their families, fellow villagers, and their community. Also, that education is much wanted, talked about and needed. The little children are eager to learn. They actually copy articles out of books to take home so that they can continue reading and writing when at home. The older children/young adults talked to me about the hopes and dreams for their futures, but not only for themselves but also for their families.

I have many precious memories of Goi. The ones I will share with you and that stand out are:

  • Upon my arrival, the fresh coconut that was cut from tree overhead and chopped for me to drink.
  • The children that filed into the library everyday with greetings, “Good afternoon”, “You are welcome”.
  • The smiling faces of the children.
  • The children reciting, “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”, with Vivian.
  • The abundant amount number of goats roaming freely everywhere.
  • Watching little Esther (3) talking to a teddy bear.
  • The expression of joy in Vivian’s face while she works with the nursery class children. She so much reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Vivian’s fascination with books. She couldn’t do any work in the library without stopping to read at least one or two books along the way.
  • Going to the market with Rose, Vivian’s daughter.
  • The Drama Troupe and its wonderfully, exciting performances.
  • My experience attending church service with Assemblyman Daniel.
  • Teaching the nursery class the rhyme “We Willie Winkie” and “Here’s the Church. Here’s the Steeple. Open the door and here’s the people!”
  • The little boy’s eyes when he saw me enter the library and whenever I walked a short distance away from him, he would cry.
  • Little Joe Joe’s dirty peach sweat pants, pink t-shirt and bare feet.
  • Hearing Joe Joe’s laughter while playing catch with him the day before I left.
  • All the sad faces and some crying children who congregated in the library to say “Goodbye” the morning I left.
  • Teaching Rose and Veronica to make soup and pasta salad and them making it for me. Kwame and the Drama Troupe members shared lunch before I left.

Upon each return home from Africa, Melissa would comment, “I left my heart in Africa again”. I now understand how she has feels, for I, too, feel I have left part of my heart in Goi.

Friends and family ask me, “Would you go again?” My answer is, “Yes”. I want to, must and will one day return to Goi. The only question is when?

I thank Kathy and The Osu Children’s Library Fund. May God bless you!

Susie Sarrasin