Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kisseman Community Library

As you may know, Easy Track Ghana has been working with the TransCAP Foundation to help create a community library for the urban village of Kisseman, in suburban Accra, Ghana. 

While I was in the USA, I met with the TransCAP Foundation to open a fundraising project. I also held a book drive, collecting nearly 700 books. About half are children storybooks, but we also have children's learning and advanced readers, as well as non-fiction vocational, health, history, language, IT, travel, reference and other types of books.

The books were shipped from California. My family in Ghana donated some space on their property for us to build. They also assisted with construction. The initial funding was made by the Easy Track Ghana tour company and my personal contributions.

Finally! What a day when we opened the library! The children have known there were books in the locked library room, but only a few were being pulled from the boxes. Any distribution or reading was being done from the Easy Track office or outside in the compound.

Eventually the children got annoyed up with my slowness and they stormed the Easy Track office on a Saturday morning, insisting that the library be OPEN. So I begged off working with the Easy Track team, and with the children we all went scavenging for lumber and cement blocks we could use to construct shelves. A group of girls cleaned the library rooms and found cushions and floor mats. The boys scrubbed the scrap lumber, carried the blocks and helped build the shelves. Others went door-to-door asking for pencils and paper and a pencil sharpener.

When we had everything together, we got a couple buckets of water and we all washed up. The construction had been a messy job! As soon as they had dried, the children RAN into the library.

Everyone entering received some basic instruction: hands must be clean, how to turn pages, only one set of hands on a book, returning books to the shelves, no shouting.....those were the main rules, plus a couple others as the day wore on.

Jessie's son Bismark was the enforcer in the main room while I went into the reading room, where you see the children standing (below).

By the end of the day:
- 37 children had visited the library
- 2 children ejected for unruly beaviour
- 2 children identified as exceptional
- 0 books damaged

This is the most wonderful thing! I wish so badly that each of you can witness yourself what we are doing here! 
Every day now there are children at my door or at my window asking when the library will open. When funding is in place, we will have regular hours and staff.

Every day I walk in the area, I am besieged by children asking that they may come to read. These young children want SO BADLY to have a book in their hands. Yet too many books are still in boxes.

I know these pictures are somewhat sad, but this is where we stand now. Or I should say, where the children stand. 

To the children, though, this is such a wonderful, fantastic place unlike anything they have ever before experienced.

US and Canadian citizens are able to make tax-deductible contributions to the TransCAP Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 charity based in Atlanta. Indicating on your check the "Ghana Library" will ensure that 100% of your contribution goes to improving this wonderful gift to the community.

We have been "interviewing" 3 different candidates for librarian by letting them gather groups of children outside and reading to them. Easy Track Ghana will be donating a couple computers and an Internet connection. But we still need shelves, tables, chairs, a desk and a small operational budget.

Through Easy Track's "One Extra Bag" program, we will be able to solicit pencils, paper, books and other supplies. But Easy Track does our best to send these contributions to remote areas visited when touring. As much as possible, we will work to raise funds through the TransCAP Foundation to fund operations of this magic place.

I am asking that you help in whatever small way you can. Nothing is too small. Send your tax-deductible contribution to:
1170 Peachtree St, NE 12th Floor, P3
Atlanta, GA

This library is a space that is going to change lives.


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