May 2024

May 15, 2024

Dear Friends,

Another visit has passed by with vivid memories lingering, each with a story.

We are busy now preparing for our annual fundraising events to be held in Winnipeg at Saucers Cafe next month.
We were honoured to have former Winnipeggers Paul and Holly McNally join us in Ghana. They helped at our first Molly’s Camp, which took place at the Goi library. This five-day camp for 40 children was made possible thanks to a generous gift from the family of the late Molly Higginson, a former OCLF volunteer. Paul taught each child to make a wooden stool and Holly taught crocheting. It was exciting to see girls sawing away and boys eagerly crocheting. Local instructors taught broom making, reed mat construction, and weaving too. It is now up to other libraries to think of ideas for their own version of Molly’s Camp.

Freshly painted stools drying in the sun in preparation for the Camp’s celebration day

Ghana’s highly acclaimed illustrator Edmund Opare attended the launch for OCLF’s newest book, The Fisherman and His Wife, a retelling of a Brothers Grimm tale. Edmund’s watercolour illustrations beautifully convey the fisherman’s anguish as his wife’s demands go beyond reason with her final wish asking for dominion over the sun, the moon, the heavens, and the earth.

Children from Korle Gonno’s library performed a stage play based on our new book.

Our local board met and among other issues we discussed ways to raise funds to help our librarians facing health issues not covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme and beyond the scope of OCLF’s modest medical plan. During my month-long visit, I spent many hours in clinics with librarians suffering from malaria, typhoid, hypertension, and heart failure. Each condition required multiple tests and not one was covered by the national plan. Medications are costly too.

Adult learners at our Nima Centre embraced the writings of the late Efua Sutherland as part of the centenary celebrations for this remarkable Ghanaian woman, who was a playwright, author, and child’s advocate well before her time. Learners recited poetry from Sutherland’s book Playtime in Africa and shared games they played as children. The Centre was filled with laughter as we all stepped into the shoes of young children. Have you ever heard of “Ant and Tree”, a variation of “Simon Says”?

Former users of our Nima Centre of Accra, including an army sergeant, a nurse, and a midwife, approached me to thank OCLF for constructing this facility back in 2006. Rahma said her parents were very strict, and the library was the only place she was allowed to go apart from school. She went every single day. Rahma mentioned the kindness of Mr. Joseph, one of the librarians (now retired), who took a special interest in her well-being and ensured she had all the necessary textbooks to study. We were invited by CLASS FM radio to share this news on live radio.

Literacy facilitator Jibril Iddrisu (lt) with former users of the Nima Centre at CLASS FM

Mabel Hoduameda, the head librarian in the salt mining village of Kablevu, has the book, The Boy Who Grew a Forest by Sophia Gholz, in her library. She is striving to create a forest too. Since her library’s opening in 2020, she has planted trees and bushes on her library grounds and with little success. That has not deterred her from trying! Recently Mabel introduced new species of trees known to have a greater tolerance to salty soil and all 25 are growing. Each requires daily watering, not an easy task considering their village doesn’t have a water source.

Warmest wishes,

Kathy Knowles