It’s official – The Community Library is now open

Since arriving in my village and discovering there was a library space, I’ve been on a mission to get it furnished with bookshelves, tables and chairs/stools, stocked with art supplies and books and opened. Well, it’s been a long, tedious and challenging process. Why? Gaining the interest and support (financial and emotional) of the elders, community leaders, and school officials was the hardest thing to do. The library is located at the epicenter, along with the clinic and the saving and loans program; and some of the epicenter committee members wanted the library to become a reality – functional and resourceful for all the villages to use (6 villages are served by this epicenter).

After several meetings and discussions with leaders and school, the library sat…and sat…an empty space where the lizards and birds have been making the spot a home. When approached by the assistant headmaster from one of the other village to teach the children English Fun, like I did last year in the village I lived in, I knew it was time to step out on my own and get the project moving. I placed my name on the list amongst other Peace Corps volunteers to get books from Ghana Get Some Books (GGSB), did research on prices for materials (wood for furnishings, learning resources, etc), spoke with a member of Ghana Educational Services for resources created to be more culturally appropriate for Ghanaians. (A great portion of the citizens can not read English, nor their own local language, pictures are a great way to teach materials).

Yet, is this the way of sustainability within the communities? Where is the buy-in from the communities? Who will continue to run it after I depart?  Did the communities understand what libraries are and how they could help all those within the communities?  All questions I thought about and didn’t have clear or concrete answers to. Yet, what was looking me in the face, were the children. The continuous asking me when I was going to do storytelling classes again or have classes so they can make pictures and color, now that school was back in. 

I didn’t want to let them down. Knowing how much I enjoy libraries in the States, spending hours looking through magazines, reading books,picking up music, why not share a fraction of this with them. Once funds were secured through Peace Corps, and books arrived from GGSB, it was only a matter of time to get everything together (even if that means I did it alone) and get the library ready to be operating. Things were donated from family, loved ones and myself (stickers, flash cards, desktop pencil sharpener, children books, color pencils, puzzles, maps, glue sticks and children scissors); the grant secured tables, bookshelves, stools, pencils, pens, writing books. 

This project began in late February 2015 and the library officially opened on January 19th, 2016. At the moment, only two of the six villages (children and a few adolescents) are using the library; and hopefully once the academic year has concluded the other four will use it as well.

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Christmas in Paris, New Years in Barcelona

I had the opportunity to spend Christmas (2015) in Paris with a colleague (Dane W) and my daughter (who joined us before spending time with friends in London & Scotland).  It was a wonderful Christmas present to me from my hubby, Fred.  (Thanks so much honey).  A needed break from the sometimes super religious and constant audio insult on my ears in the village.  Paris has been a place I’ve always thought about going yet not consciously planned to go.  However, the chance presented itself, when I asked hubby, if he wouldn’t mind working extra hard and sending me to Paris for the holidays.  (Okay, it sounds quite selfish of me, to have my hubby work while I go to the City of Lights without him; yet, I need some peace, sanity and food).

Like a wonderful hubby, he worked and provided the funds for me to go.  I am so thankful for the trip.

Though I studied French for almost ten years (junior high through college); not getting the opportunity to practice it – would seem to be a waste.  Yet, by midway of the trip, I was able to speak a bit more fluently and read menus and signs without much difficulty.

The best part of Paris was everything… les fromages, les baguettes, les vins, la soupe de l’oignon francaise, le Louvre, les gens, les arts, l’histoire, tout.

I found myself reflecting on how life would be if we (Fred and I) moved to Paris.  The various places we stayed and visited was quite vast in culture, people and ethnicity; and though there was a very small percentage of Black Americans in Paris, I did not feel like I didn’t belong or was not wanted.  Even, when I struggled with certain French words, people smiled and allowed me to struggle through because I was determined to speak in French rather than they speak to me in French.  Dane and Millie sat at bars and restaurants while I spoke French.  The two of them would communicate in Spanish on certain words.  It was a great time overall.

Photos of Christmas in Paris (additional pictures of Paris)

Dane and I spent New Year’s Eve in Barcelona, Spain and it was a wonderful time.  He got to speak Spanish, while I sat there and admired.  We got to see many things, walked a lot (both in Paris and Barcelona) and ate very well.

The two weeks went by quite quickly.

The next time I go, Fred will be with me and who knows, some of my friends (hint, hint Dane) will be residing in Barcelona and Paris for us to visit again. I’m glad to have great friends, a wonderful partner/hubby, beautiful daughter and an amazing adventure.

Next blog coming soon… It’s official – the community library is now open :-)

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