Tag Archives: Ghana

Solomon reading

An update from Ghana

As lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, in line with new government guidelines our South London warehouse has reopened.

We are now working to resume operations as fully as social distancing and health and safety measures allow and we are thrilled that our first shipment has just left, carrying 52,683 brand new books bound for Ghana.

In about four weeks’ time, these books will reach our partner Ghana Library Authority (GhLA).

We caught up with Hayford Siaw, GhLA’s Executive Director to find out how Covid-19 has impacted Ghana and how these books will be used in their work to support their country’s post-Covid recovery.

 

Books arriving in Ghana
A shipment is now on its way to Ghana! (This photo is of books arriving in 2019)

The books are on their way! How will GhLA make use of them?

We are excited to receive the books. They’ll be safely distributed to our libraries across the country to enable our patrons everywhere to benefit from the wider range of books to choose from when libraries reopen.

Kids reading
The books on their way will give readers a wider range of new books to choose from when libraries reopen

How have the restrictions affected the work of GhLA?

Due to the ban on all public gatherings we have had to shut down all our public libraries. Our Mobile Library Van which also provides mobile ICT services has also paused. Sadly, our 70th Anniversary activities which would have included public gatherings have had to be rescheduled.

Education will be negatively affected.

What plans do you have for when libraries reopen?

Before we reopen our libraries, we will disinfect them all to create a safer environment for patrons and staff. Once they are open, we will work to improve and maintain good water, sanitation and hygiene in our libraries.

We will also launch a My Library Campaign to encourage people back into the libraries and we also hope to support digital community learning by providing Wi-Fi into communities using libraries as central Wi-Fi hubs.

Reading and learning from the books will provide a positive distraction to the harm Covid-19 has caused to communities.

Shop in Jamestown
All non-essential shops and businesses were temporarily shut down but are beginning to reopen now

What restrictions on normal life are currently being imposed because of COVID-19?

Ghana’s borders have been closed and there has been an indefinite closure of all educational institutions and public libraries. Public gatherings have also been banned including sporting events, conferences and workshops. All businesses except essential service providers were temporarily shut down however they have now reopened but must observe the prescribed social distancing and hygiene measures.

Reading and learning from the books will provide a positive distraction to the harm Covid-19 has caused to communities.

What challenges do people in Ghana face because of these restrictions?

There has been a hike in the price of basic food supplies as a result of panic buying when the partial lockdown was imposed. In addition, the temporary closure of businesses has resulted in the loss of many jobs and a decline in income. For example, private school owners cannot pay staff since schools are not in session. The hospitality industry is also being adversely impacted due to the border closure and slowdown in demand for international travel.

The partial lockdown in Greater Accra and Kumasi increased hardships for the city’s urban poor who were confronted with hunger since they were restricted from going about their work to earn daily wages which could barely afford them three square meals daily. The government has provided two free meals for 400,000 vulnerable people daily.

How has education been affected?

Schools were shut down on 16th March 2020 and education will be negatively affected even though the Ministry of Education is trying to bridge the gap through online and TV learning.

Most students are unable to study effectively from the house due to several factors including the inability of parents to assist their children on how to access online learning platforms, limited access to the internet and a lack of the technical know-how needed by students to effectively utilise e-learning platforms.

We’re also running a radio storytelling hour. The rationale behind this is to educate Ghanaians at home and encourage reading and learning.

Do people often have books at home in Ghana?

Not all do but some Ghanaian parents keep books such as textbooks at home to aid with children’s homework. However, many Ghanaian homes have access to smart phones, therefore we have provided the Ghana Library App to ensure that every Ghanaian home can access reading materials in the form of eBooks.

What work are you doing to keep people reading while libraries closed?

We have enhanced our Ghana Library Mobile App so that our readers will have many options to choose from and have also developed a new system give patrons access to school-related and other educative content such as e-books, video and audio files through our mobile apps.

In addition, we have launched a National Short Story Writing Challenge. The Challenge is an open-subject story-writing contest for children aged nine to 18 and is aimed to help children at home make good use of their time during Covid-19.

We’re also running a radio storytelling hour. The rationale behind this is to educate Ghanaians at home and encourage reading and learning.

 

We are proud to be working with the GhLA to ensure that when schools and libraries reopen in Ghana, people have access to inspiring books to get back to learning and rebuild their communities.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

March Book of the Month

Our March Book of the Month is:

The Herd Boy
The Herd Boy by Niki Daly

This picture book follows a day in the life of Malusi, a young boy who lives in rural South Africa. He spends his days tending his grandfather’s flock; leading them out to find pasture, protecting them from danger and caring for the sick and injured.

It’s a big job for a small boy but Malusi is brave and he dreams of one day becoming the President.

While carrying an injured lamb home along the roadside, he meets an elderly man in a big car who tells him that someone who takes care of his herd would make a good leader. The man that Malusi meets is Nelson Mandela.

 

Meeting Nelson Mandela

 

Beautifully brought to life with evocative illustrations, this book will be relatable for many young readers living in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa where children often spend their spare time helping their parents to care for their livestock. The story is told in simple prose with an underlying message that many great people have started from humble beginnings.

This book is perfect for our partners working with schools and libraries in rural communities such as Eduspots in Ghana, Educaid in Sierra Leone and RLRDP in Zimbabwe. We hope that this book will encourage the children who read it to dream big!

 

Reading activity in Uganda

Enjoying stories across the world

The books that supporters like you help to send are loved by children across the world!

Here, we’ve gathered together some of their favourite reads which they shared with us to mark World Book Day on the 5th March:

 

Reading can open up a whole new world to the reader, you can become whoever you want to be – a pirate, a spy, a princess, or an animal. By reading you can travel, explore new worlds, and go on adventures. All that is possible just by opening up a book.

– Clarissa, Street Children Empowerment Foundation, Ghana.

 

Thimpu, Bhutan

Bhutan book club

 

Keen young readers in Thimpu, Bhutan, love visiting their local READ Model Centre after school where Ms. Yangcen leads read aloud sessions. Recently, she read I Love Mum with the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

 

Dandora, Nairobi, Kenya

Enjoying books at DADREG's library in Nairobi

 

In Nairobi’s Dandora slum in Kenya, the community library run by our partner DADREG is a place that children love to visit to share stories. It’s a place that keeps them busy away from the local landfill site where many of them often join their families to sift for items to sell to make ends meet:

Reading storybooks puts smiles on our faces and books make learning exciting!

Ghana

Enjoying books in Ghana

 

In Ghana, the kids at the schools and libraries supported by our partner Rainbow Trust love to read all sorts of books; here they show off just a few of them!

We love reading these books because they are colourful and packed full of fun! Some of the books, like Samson: The Mighty Flee and The Wildest Cowboy encourage the children that with perseverance, they can succeed.

Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

The kids who read at Mathare Youth Sport Association’s (MYSA) libraries in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, are lucky enough to have lots of staff and volunteers who read all sorts of stories with them.

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya

 

At MYSA’s Mathare North Library the kids recently listened to Librarian Stephen reading We Could Help:

Here in the Mathare slums, people litter everywhere so I chose ‘We Could Help’ so the children realise that they can join hands to clean their communities for a better tomorrow.

– Stephen

And Library Attendant Charles, read them The Little Dancer and Other Stories – because they love to dance!

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya

Most of the children I was reading the story to are in the library dancing club. So I thought the story might encourage them to continue dancing and maybe think of starting a ballet dancing club in the library.

– Charles

 

Banjul, The Gambia

Reading at Gambia National Library Service Authority

 

All sorts of children’s fiction and non-fiction books are loved by the kids who read at the Gambia National Library Service Authority’s library! They especially love story books.

 

Kpando, Ghana

Sharing stories in class in Ghana

 

The kids at Delta Preparatory School’s Library Club (which gets books from its local Ghana Library Authority branch) love sharing the The Stone Age to the Iron Age book and learning how tools and farming techniques have changed.

 

Gaza Strip and the West Bank

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, our partner Tamer Instuitue for Community Education organises all sorts of reading workshops and activities, book launches, discussions and good old read alouds!

 

Musanze, Rwanda

Reading at Agati Library in Rwanda

 

In Rwanda, the kids at Agati Library in Musanze particularly love to be read Momo and Snap, a picture book about the ups and downs of the friendship between a young monkey and a young crocodile.

Reading Momo and Snap creates a feeling of excitement, thrill and even friendship.

Gwanda, Zimbabwe

Young readers at the Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library in Zimbabwe love Funnybones so much that they request it again and again!

 

Tonkolili, Sierra Leone

Reading at Tonkolili District Library

 

In Sierra Leone, children enjoy reading all sorts of books and stories but at Tonkolili District Children’s Library, The Dinosaur Who Pooped A Lot! is a particular favourite!

 

Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Sharing stories at Street Children Empowerment Foundation in Ghana

 

The children at Street Children Empowerment Foundation’s library in Accra, Ghana are currently reading a book called Mine:

The children love the illustrations and we chose this book because it teaches the children how important sharing is. Sharing spreads happiness – and so do books!

 

We are continuing to work with our partners as much as possible and support them wherever we can as they respond to COVID-19 and find new ways to give as many people as possible access to brand new books.

 

Ghana child reading

“Reading is the best thing that can happen”

As part of the Ghana Library Authority’s drive to improve access to books across the country, in February 2019 it launched a new mobile library service. Now, vans filled with up to 5,000 books – including books supporters like you have helped to send – are touring schools and poor communities across ten regions.

The McCarthy Hill School in Accra is one of the lucky places visited each month by one of the mobile library vans. Here, the school’s Director, Lydia, tells us more.

 

Lydia
The pupils at Lydia’s school love reading

 

How did you get involved with the mobile library?

The kids here love reading. Although we have a school library, it’s small and we realised that the books in the library were not enough.

Every term we’d devote a portion of our budget to buying new books and within a week or two the kids have read all of them. So that was becoming a challenge.

I went to an event at the Ghana Library Authority and we were introduced to the idea of the mobile library. We thought it was a wonderful opportunity because it meant the kids could have many other titles to read.

How does it work?

The van comes once a month. When the kids know the van is visiting, they all come to school excited and carrying their book boxes [to put the books they borrow in].

The fact they can climb in the van and pick their own books adds to the excitement. It’s very interactive and the staff are very helpful.

Kids waiting to choose books
Excited pupils queue for their turn to choose some new reading books

How has the mobile library changed things for your pupils?

It’s been amazing for our kids.

I’ve had two parents actually say that since their kids got their book boxes they haven’t turned on the television at home and siblings are competing to see who finishes their books first!

But I also get complaints from parents that their children are reading too much! They are reading instead of hurrying up to come to school; in the evening when they have to go to bed, they are reading.

Kids showing the books they have chosen
Pupils show off the books they have chosen

Why is it important for children to read?

Books opens their eyes to the world. Once they read, they ask questions, they want to find out more.

Reading also makes them confident. Everywhere we take our kids, people are impressed. They are very expressive, they have good vocabulary and it’s because they read.

I think reading is the best thing that can happen to a child.

The mobile library is a wonderful opportunity. I have already begun spreading the good news to other schools!

Matilda and her children

Reaching new levels through books

Matilda lives in a one-room home with her six children in Jamestown, one of the poorest districts in Accra, Ghana.

She does all she can to provide for them and give them more opportunities than she had. She wants them to go far and believes books have a key role to play.

Here Matilda tells us more:

Matilda
Matilda sells fish and rice on the street to make enough money to care for her children

 

“Since their father left, I’m the only one taking care of my six children. The biggest challenge is feeding them. So I sell smoked fish and rice on the street to get money to take care of all of them.

I didn’t have books when I was a child and I can’t read. But I am so happy my 10-year-old twins, Richard and Richardson, can read.

Twins reading in school
Matilda has seen a great change in her twins, Richard and Richardson, since they started reading

I’m seeing changes in them since they became good at reading. They have already gotten to a level I didn’t get to.

 

Reading in the library
The twins regularly read donated books at SCEF’s library in Jamestown

 

If they had no books, they would fall back in their studies. Books are important, especially for their future. I want them to go far – even further than they are already.”

Books are good. They will help me become a doctor.

– Richard, one of Matilda’s twins.

 

Solomon

“Reading is my talent”

12-year-old Solomon lives with his family in Jamestown, one of the poorest districts of Accra, Ghana’s capital.

Five years ago, Solomon’s reading skills were limited but when he started reading books at Street Child Empowerment Foundation’s (SCEF) library in Jamestown, he discovered how fun reading was and now he’s the best reader in his class.

Here Solomon tells us more about the books you have helped to send:

Solomon reads to him mum

 

“I’m 12-years-old and I live with my mother and my two sisters.

For fun, I like cooking noodles and when I grow up I want to be a musician, playing the guitar!

Solomon reading in school

 

I’m in class 6 at school. I enjoy school because the things that the teacher teachers I enjoy. My favourite subject is natural science because I understand it completely.

I read after school every day.

I read after school every day. I like reading because it’s my talent. I’m the best in my class. In the school holidays I also go to the library.

My favourite book is The Scared Cat. I like it because the cat is always scared! When his friends are going, he’s scared. They went to take a mouse, he’s scared. Every time he’s scared! I have read it many times.

The books in SCEF’s library help me very much.

I come to the library if school have given me homework. I come to the library, collect that book and go to the homework club and write it. Our mothers, if they don’t have money they can’t buy us books. But here we have books to read.”

Reading for a better future

Victoria lives with her four children in Jamestown, one of the poorest districts of Accra, Ghana’s capital.

She works at the local market selling fish and kenkey but she has bigger hopes for her children.

Here she tells us about her youngest child, 12-year-old Solomon, who is excelling in school thanks to books you have helped us to send to our partner Street Children Empowerment Foundation’s (SCEF) library.

Victoria and Solomon
Many parents in Jamestown cannot afford to purchase books for their children

 

“My favourite thing about having children is just the joy they bring. That they call me ‘ma’.

Most of the parents in Jamestown don’t have money [for books]. If you don’t have the money it’s a challenge. So when children go to SCEF’s Learning Hub, there are books that Book Aid International sent to them, it exposes them to new things to learn.

I have seen a big change in Solomon since he’s been reading. At first, he didn’t really know how to read but now his reading has really improved.  Not only Solomon but his older sister too who also visits the Learning Hub.

I have seen a big change in Solomon since he’s been reading.

Without those books, I would try as much as possible to get books for my children to read – I can see that Solomon already has the head, the intelligence. I want him to be a doctor in the future. But he has a different idea!

Solomon reads to his mum
Solomon also borrows books from the library to read at home

 

Solomon goes [to the library] every day. Whenever there is a programme at school, they usually call him to speak as he is so fluent in his speech.

When he’s reading, I’m happy.

I’m really happy that Solomon is performing well at school. When he’s reading, I’m happy. It’s really necessary for children to have books to read for their future.”

Operations Team celebrate the sending of the millionth book of 2019

Millionth book of 2019 now on its way to Ghana!

Book Aid International is delighted to announce that the millionth book of 2019 has left its warehouse in south London and is now on its way to Ghana. The shipment contained a total of 42,135 brand new books, donated by UK publishers.

So far in 2019 the charity has sent over 118,000 books to Ghana, all of which have been donated by UK publishers. 2019 is Ghana’s Year of Reading and these books are central to the celebrations. Books provided so far range from picture books for the youngest readers right through to medical and law texts to empower the next generation of professionals.

Across Ghana, these books are opening doors for readers from all walks of life. One young Ghanaian, Gideon, who today is a Chevening Scholar pursuing an MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development at University College London spoke of the reality for many people in Ghana saying:

“Thousands of people [in Ghana] are limited because they can’t crack a book open. Without books, today I’d probably be a hawker somewhere who thinks I can’t change anything. But books are universal. If you are able to grab it in a village in Ghana and somebody grabs it New York or London, you are on the same level. So they are really transforming.”

Gideon was lucky enough to gain the opportunity to read as a young man and through Book Aid International many more Ghanaians will also be able to access life-changing books in their schools and libraries. Hayford Siaw, Executive Director for the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) said:

“Our collaboration with Book Aid International has blossomed and culminated in this smashing success, making quality and relevant books available to thousands of public library users. I must say we are privileged among all the partner countries to be achieving this milestone together with Book Aid International as Ghana is scheduled to receive the millionth book.”

Book Aid International’s Chief Executive Alison Tweed thanked everyone who made this milestone possible:

“We are delighted to have once again sent over one million books again this year. This achievement wouldn’t be possible without the support of the publishers who donate the books we send, our team of volunteers and, of course, our generous funders. We know this millionth book – and all the other books we have sent this year – will be put to very good use!”

This shipment also includes science, technology and mathematics books to add to the two STEM Study Hubs which the charity has launched with Ghana Library Authority this year, thanks to support from energy company Aggreko. Each STEM Study Hub offers secondary school pupils the books and support they need to succeed in their exams and take the first step towards a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition to sending books and opening STEM Study Hubs in Ghana this year, Book Aid International and the Ghana Library Authority have also opened Children’s Corners – spaces especially for children where reading can flourish – in five public libraries.

In 2019, Book Aid International has so far sent 1,025,499 books. The charity aims to send 1.2 million books by the end of the year.

To be a part of sending the next book or to find out more, get in touch.

“Reading is learning”

Fourteen-year-old Mary lives in Jamestown, one of the poorest districts in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

Crime, illiteracy and teenage pregnancy are all too common in Jamestown and many children end up working on the streets to help their families make ends meet. But Mary is determined to build a brighter future.

Here 14 year old Mary shares how she is using books you help to send to achieve her dream:

Mary in school
Mary reads every day

 

I like going to school. I walk for an hour by myself to get there. I believe if I go to school, I will learn and I’ll know more.

And I want to know more because there is something I want to achieve in future – I want to become a lawyer.

But many girls in Jamestown don’t go to school. Those who are at home, they don’t learn. They will just walk around, not doing anything. At the end of the day you will see girls as young as 12 pregnant.

 

Mary reading with her family
Mary shares a book from her local library with her family

If I didn’t have books and the school gave me an assignment, I would be suffering.

Reading is learning – if you read, you know more words and you can learn.

And maybe if you don’t understand something, they will explain it in the reading book. So you need to read every day.

Thank you for the books and for the gift that you gave me. Books have the power to change our future.

Hear more from Mary in this short video:

Rita and family

Books keeping children off the streets

Rita lives with her four children in Jamestown, one of the poorest districts in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

Rita and her children
Rita lives with her four children in a one-bedroom house in Jamestown

Crime, illiteracy and teenage pregnancy are all too common in Jamestown and many children end up working on the streets to help their families make ends meet.

Here Rita shares how books you help to send are helping her children to stay off the streets and dream of brighter futures:

 

“There are lots of challenges as a mother in Jamestown. It’s not safe here and especially not for children. But I have lived here all my life and I don’t have anywhere else to go.

To support my children I sell condensed milk toffee in the streets. I didn’t get the opportunity to go to school as a child – I can’t read or write.

That’s why I feel really happy when I see my 14 year old daughter Mary reading. She is very serious about her education, she walks on her own to school for an hour every day and always studies at home.

When I see Mary reading, it gives me hope that she won’t have the same future as me.

Mary reading at school
Rita’s daughter Mary is determined to work hard at school a secure a brighter future

 

Every day after school, Mary goes to the library run by local NGO Street Children Empowerment Foundation (SCEF).

It’s really important for the children to have books. I just want them to have a better chance than me.

Since going to the library, Mary is more confident and can speak English really well. It makes me so happy. I really want her to be a prominent person in the future.

SCEF library
After school, Mary reads books you have helped to send at SCEF’s Library in Jamestown

I don’t have any money. I can’t buy books for my children. So I am so happy my children get to read books in the library.

Because of the library, my children, especially Mary, have a chance of having a brighter future.

I am told that all these new books at the SCEF library come from Book Aid International in the UK, and that people like you give their own money to help send them.

Thank you so much. you are helping my daughter Mary and other children here in Jamestown who could easily end up on the streets.

We want our children to go far and not be in this situation their whole life. They can achieve this through reading books.

Please keep helping Book Aid International to send more books!”