One of the unexpected opportunities presented by our journeys to Ghana came in the request for libraries. We were first approached by Nii Takie, a regional chief executive and presidential appointee. In our meeting with him, he explained to us that the government was building a library and IT center in a village called Myera – which is on the outskirts of Accra. The building had been started years ago and they were beginning the project once again. Providing a place where people could come, from miles around, and expand their own horizons was an exciting proposition for the government. The funding for the library and IT center was no problem – the government was committed and the work would be completed. Their challenges will be in the next step. Books and computers.
A lack of resources
They have no access to books or computers that would fill the library. Mr. Takie explained that he wanted storybooks for children and skills based books for adults. Not only does he want to provide books, but he is also intent on providing computers.
Being a lifelong Elgin resident, I had watched our local library, The Gail Borden Library, being built. Thus, I was excited to visit the building site where the new library was under construction.
So, after our meeting and interview, Mr. Takie sent us with a couple of his subordinates to see the building under way. When we arrived, I was surprised by what we found. The basic structure of the library had been laid and they had erected the framing for the roof. Crossing the threshold, I was immediately forced to adjust my expectations for the project. The whole building was hardly the dimensions of the library at the Elementary school where I teach in Elgin. It wasn’t difficult to imagine how we could fill this space with donations. The most challenging aspect would be the shipment of the books.
Next door to the library was a school for the town. We had the chance to visit and even do some teaching. While there, we observed their lack of supplies. Children were sitting three to a desk sharing pencils.
Crowded Rooms, few supplies
In the first room we were in, there were nearly 60 children, with only six practice books scattered throughout the classroom. Students were expected to pay attention from the board. There wasn’t much of an option. The same situation was reflected in all ten classrooms. They have hardly any supplies of any kind.
While there, the headmaster of the school showed us a library that had been partially completed on the school grounds. This would be used for the children only and was half the size of the other. Construction had been halted but could be resumed.
The message did not stop there. Our Two Pennies representative, Aboagye, took us to another library in his hometown of Asebu. Construction here had begun in 1999 and had been halted shortly thereafter.
The grounds look more like the ruins of an ancient civilization instead of a future site of learning. The library is larger than the other two combined (they dreamt big), but they are out of resources to do anything with it. Once again, they understand the power of education. They know that knowledge is power. They are trying to provide themselves with this knowledge, but run out of resources. They don’t know how to proceed. This is where the Two Pennies hopes to make a difference.
In the works is a project which would partner us with School District 123, School district U-46 and others to provide the opportunities to provide these libraries with resources. We hope that you will consider partnering with us in providing opportunity to these communities. We will need to raise the funds for a shipping container, collect books and computers and make the delivery. Contact us for ways to get involved.