World Colour Day

Our libraries celebrate March 21 to recognize the important role colour plays to make our world a better place.

December 2021

December 10, 2021

Dear Friends,

Once again I am writing from my desk in Winnipeg, nice and cosy from Winnipeg’s cold air.

I celebrated a number of events including the 10th anniversary of the Accra College of Education Community Library. Matilda Yeboah, its head librarian, organized a full program that included an eight-school reading competition, a health walk, a panel discussion titled The Importance of Libraries for National Development, and a birthday cake for the children!

Climate change hit home during my stay when huge waves came crashing down and wiped out hundreds of homes in fishing villages along the coast. Three of our librarians serving at our informal mini-libraries lost their homes. Ruth (pictured at right) was one of them. After relocating, Ruth is still returning to gather and read to children in front of her old home. She also wants to initiate a new library where she now lives – a couple of kilometres inland.

Part of my trip included doing research for a new illustrated book, one that will include approximately 700 English words depicting day-to-day Ghanaian life. Toby Newsome, a South African illustrator, sent me rough drawings by email that I was able to show around. To better reflect the entire country, I travelled north more than 800km by car. Foods definitely do vary depending on one’s location and most are season-dependent.

We held a book launch for Maa and Me, an OCLF mother tongue Dangme/English board book, with children at Kablevu’s library. After the brief ceremony we gave out copies to those featured in the book and frozen yogurt – all 300 pieces – to everyone. Sophia was delighted to receive her own copy.

Some of you might remember from a previous newsletter that I found a stuffed toy bunny on the beach. After multiple COVID-related delays, a carton of new stuffed bunnies from Brauns-Heitmann finally arrived. We had a ‘Bunny Party, and the children who wrote to Germany each received a toy. Children are always fascinated when I show them Bunny’s ears that still have a few grains of sand left from his arduous journey!

The highlight of the month was hosting a jazz party with all library workers to honour the late Joan Mariacher, a tremendous supporter of OCLF from Vancouver, who passed away last year. It was partially through Joan’s generosity that we were able to build a network of libraries in the Greater Accra region. Joan loved jazz, and although she never wanted any recognition for her donations, I thought this was a fitting tribute. Joana Felih, OCLF’s longest serving librarian, wrote,“ Due to the jazz performance most of us will be jazz lovers.”

 

June 2021

June 17, 2021

Dear Friends,

I returned to Winnipeg this week, the trip home being a little longer given my mandatory three-day hotel stay in Toronto.

Our daughter Sophie kindly brought me ice cream and her family waved from outside the hotel’s parking lot to my fourth floor window. It gave me a glimpse as to how such gestures of connection must have meant for personal care home residents over the past year.

Ghana is officially respecting all COVID-19 protocols although the reality on the ground is a little different with a range of compliance.  Fortunately, in recent weeks, the active case numbers have remained low at around 1,200 with parts of the country now case-free. Their continued vaccine rollout is dependent on the arrival of more vaccines.

We distributed 60 library-in-a-bag gifts to deserving children living in seven coastal villages. They are among hundreds of children who attend informal library sessions where they sit on mats under trees to listen to their “library madams” read stories aloud.  When I asked these children to name their favourite books, a sea of hands went up. Prior to these libraries, children knew only their classroom textbooks.

Our newest library in the coastal village of Kablevu, which opened in November, receives more than 200 children daily. Mabel, their librarian, told me that her job was “a dream come true.” Every day, she and co-worker Sylvanus clean the multiple-louvred windows, sweep the floors, dust the tables, neatly arrange the books, and water the recently planted tree seedlings. Two months ago, we installed a rainwater collection system to harvest water, a precious resource since the community has not received piped water for more than a year. A Ghanaian company generously donated their tank.

In Accra, the Mamprobi Gale Community Library will be 20 years on June 20th. Last week, there was a flurry of activity as everyone was busy creating artwork to adorn the walls, writing stories for illustrated anniversary books, and inviting past library users and personnel to be part of the celebration.

At the Korle Gonno Community Library, I enjoyed watching Sosu and the Bukari Boys, a play based on Lawrence Darmani’s short story and a required text for final year junior high school students. I was especially moved when I learned a father of one of the performers custom-made waitress uniforms for this show. Poetry and musical interludes with multiple instruments added to this event. The head teacher told the audience of students and teachers that he was “amazed” to witness such talent.

Korle Gonno’s theatre hall was a whirlwind of energy every day from mid-afternoon until the solar power went off, usually around 8:30 pm. Three library dance troupes are competing in Ghana’s TV Africa’s multi-week talent dance show. Their excitement is mounting.

We hosted a Zoom call at our library in Osu between a Canadian donor and our literacy students, which allowed our adult learners to experience firsthand the real-time use of this popular communication technology.

Winifred Obeng Kyeremeh is Osu Library Fund’s new library coordinator. Beyond the logistical details of understanding how nine libraries operate, she remains steadfast to our mission: Sharing the Joy of Reading. Osu Library Fund board members continue to provide essential support and guidance.

Before closing, I would like to say our carpenter, now about 86 years (he doesn’t know his exact birthdate), is still eager to take on new jobs. His furniture with attention to detail and quality remains unsurpassed. Like me, he feels he is part of our extended “library family.”

Thank you for your encouragement,

Ishmael, OCLF’s newest publication

Ishmael, a Dangme/English board book, will arrive in Ghana soon. We will distribute copies to mothers attending family planning clinics in Ada West.

Jerusalema Dance Challenge!

Click on the above title. It will take you a video dance performance by the Kathy Knowles Theatre Company, Nima Centre, Accra.