December 2023

December 13, 2023

Dear Friends,

I recently returned from another month-long visit to OCLF libraries in Ghana, and I’m pleased to offer an update of some of the activities.

November proved to be a busy month with several annual events. The Sports Festival is always a highlight with a range of games offered. I – along with dozens of children — played ping pong on the outdoor concrete tables. OCLF recently donated several new paddles and balls to satisfy the steady stream of ping pong enthusiasts. During the week at this library, one has to read a book before playing! Alongside the sports activities, a local clinic ran free health screenings.

The annual meeting of 2023 brought together 70 library workers from nine libraries, ranging from cleaners to head librarians. Our guest speaker, David Anankaning, described how he makes bins from recycled bottles for plastic waste. His goal is to make Ghana cleaner, one bin at a time. Years ago, when David first came to our literacy classes, he could hardly write his name, and now he has the confidence to send letters and proposals to every level of government. Not long ago, he received a cash donation of GHS 20,000 (CDN $2,265) from Ghana’s First Lady to help.

The meeting continued with breakout sessions where library teams brainstormed ways to make their facilities more environmentally friendly. An enlightening discussion followed, with each panelist highlighting the pivotal role reading played in their lives. The day concluded with a buffet dinner and dance to celebrate another successful year.

The Nungua Community Library held its final 20th anniversary event. The celebration began with a 90-minute health walk accompanied by a lively marching band. The formal program included speeches, poetry recitals, a drama and several dances. The library’s verdant grounds are beautifully kept, creating an oasis in what is otherwise a barren litter-strewn environment. We planted a tree in memory of Molly Higginson, a volunteer who was present during the library’s construction in 2003.

I spent four days in the fishing community of Goi and nearby villages. Librarians in these OCLF-sponsored libraries, both working in buildings and informally under trees, continue to do an outstanding job to inspire young minds.

The Korle Gonno Community Library, in partnership with German volunteers from Musicians Without Borders, honoured teacher librarian Irene Togobo with a concert. Irene is well loved by everyone and has spearheaded the library’s music program for the last four years. Thanks to Irene’s efforts, Korle Gonno’s library boasts an orchestra comprised of library members, including children whose lives have been transformed by this experience. Sadly, Irene is presently battling cancer..

An MP invited a small delegation of librarians and myself to the Ghanaian Parliament to be formerly introduced to the speaker. It was an honour to be invited for such an occasion and to be recognized.

Yet, despite these accolades and the more formal events I attended last month, a true highlight of this trip was encountering a father reading to his two young children. According to Isaac Ofori, a volunteer librarian at Korle Gonno, the father faithfully brings his children every weekend. This was a first for after more than 30 years of visiting OCLF libraries.

During these days, when there are more people in conflict than at any other time since World War II, it is heartening to find a bit of hopeful news and peace at our libraries that are changing lives one reader at a time.  Thanks for your help in making this happen.

Warmest wishes,

Kathy Knowles