Childhood Memories; The Mango Raids

It was a very hot afternoon and the kids were feeling restless. They were on vacation and they were so much bored with staying in the house. School was to reopen in two weeks. They wanted the days to move quickly so that they can go back to school and have more fun. Staying in the house was boring for them. Their parents were also at their work places and they always left early in the morning and came back late in the evening. Before they left they made sure that their breakfast and lunch have been prepared. The lunch was always in the fridge, the children had to rely on Kofi who was the eldest to heat the food for them in the afternoon. The long vacation always coincided with the harvesting of mangoes. Thus, the mango season was here and the children decided to organize a series of raids into people’s farms for mangoes. They therefore sent three of the boys around to survey the area and map out all the mango trees.

It was now left with how to execute these plans. They first had to tackle the mango trees in the Ghana Water Company yard. They picked four gallons and entered the yard under the pretext of going to fetch water. Kwame hid behind the wall with a sack whiles Kwadwo, Kwabena and Kofi entered the yard with the gallons. Kofi climbed the mango tree and started plucking the ripe mangoes. He then threw them to Kwame who was a very good catcher and it went into the sack. In about ten minutes the sack was half full. Two of the gallons filled with water were then taken out of the yard by the two boys leaving Kofi on the tree. Kwadwo and Kwabena went back into the yard and Kofi then climbed down from the tree. Kwame was gone with the sack of mangoes by the time the boys were finally leaving the yard. This raid was successful as it was carefully planned and executed with so much dexterity and precision. The boys could not hide their joy when they got home and started enjoying the mangoes. They could imagine the look on the faces of the security man and some of the workers during their lunch break. They will be amazed as to how the ripe mangoes vanished from the tree. Thus the boys have found an activity to while away the remaining days of this boring vacation. Whose mango tree was next? Agya Owusu’s farm was next.

There were rumors in the neighborhood of Agya Owusu’s extreme wickedness. Thus he meted instant justice to anyone who was caught stealing from his farm. There were three big mango trees on his farm and no one dare climb any of the trees to pluck the mangoes. The boys decided to raid his farm and they were ready to face the consequences. As usual, they sent two of the boys to do some reconnaissance of the farm. They came back with the information that the man was not on the farm. Another boy was posted at the entrance of the man’s house and he was to run towards the farm and shout the moment he saw the man heading towards his farm. The sacks were secured and the boys entered the farm, climbed the trees. One person was left to stand under the tree to fill the sack. The raid was going on well until the sentry posted at Agya Owusu’s house failed to notice that there was a backdoor to the house. The man decided to pass through the backdoor on his way to the farm only for him to get there and see some children harvesting his mangoes. He shouted and the one with the sack picked up the sack and bolted like lightening. The other two on the tree decided to pluck the hard unripe mangoes and pelted Agya Owusu with them. Since he could not defend himself from the mango attack, he also ran back to the house with his face swollen. The boys then got down from the tree and also ran back to their house. When the boys got home, they started laughing and at that same moment the sentry showed up breathing heavily.  He had to run for his dear life when he saw Agya Owusu running towards his house. Meanwhile another person’s mango tree was being targeted. They decided to be extra vigilant this time around and also take every precautionary measure to protect and defend themselves during the raids. They also mapped out several escape routes and always had a plan B in case their plan failed. Thus these are some of the childhood memories. I hope a lot of people can relate. In fact, the mangoes raided from people’s farms were more enjoyable than those sold at the market.

The Forgiving Heart

It was a very cold evening when Adwoa Manu broke the news to Michael Owusu, her boyfriend. Adwoa was pregnant and she was scared of what her parents will do to her. She decided to break the news to Michael and find out how he was going to react. Whether he was going to be happy or sad. But Michael went into a panic mode the moment the news hit him. His mind was then flooded with ideas on how to get rid of the pregnancy and also he started entertaining thoughts of running away from Adwoa. The look on his face alone scared Adwoa to marrow and she could not look at him in the face at that very moment.
Michael decided to go on the offensive by denying Adwoa’s pregnancy. He began to accuse her of cheating on him with some of the boys in the community, but Adwoa amidst tears streaming down her face denied that allegation. She reminded him of his insistence not to use a condom as protection anytime they had sex. Yet, Michael continued to deny the pregnancy. Adwoa had no other man in her life apart from Michael and she gave her all to him in the relationship. She now felt humiliated and betrayed by the man who always claimed he loved her. She decided to break the news to her parents and she was ready to accept any form of punishment that would be given to her. She made Michael aware of decision. Her parents also knew that she was in a relationship with Michael and they always advised them to be truthful and good to each other.

That evening Adwoa could not sleep, her parents had gone to church and she was just waiting for them to come back home so that she told them about her pregnancy. Adwoa met her parents at the gate with tears in her eyes and they were surprised to see their daughter crying. They were also shocked when she finally spilled the beans to them that evening. They could not come to terms with it for about thirty minutes. Adwoa’s father then decided to inform Michael’s parents about this new development. A call was made to Michael’s father and he could not talk for some seconds after hearing the news. While this was going on Michael was planning to leave town. He came home late in the night, sneaked into his room and packed some few clothes and left the house. His parents were asleep when he came home. He did not want to face his parents over Adwoa’s pregnancy. He also changed his sim card so as to prevent calls from coming through on his phone. Only God knew where he was going. He the left town for an unknown destination.

Both Adwoa and Michael’s parents were alarmed at Michaels’s abscence when they met to discuss the issue. They tried calling his phone several times but all their attempts proved futile as he could not be reached. Both parents acknowledged the fact that both children were responsible for the pregnancy, and that they were going to make sure Adwoa was taken good care of during the prenatal and postnatal period. Nine months passed and still there was no sign of Michael. Adwoa safely gave birth to a baby boy who looked exactly like his father, Michael. The parents of both Adwoa and Michael decided to name the child Michael Kwadwo Owusu, after his father. Prayers were said for mother and child and they all thanked God for his safe delivery and the good health of the mother.

After two years, both Adwoa and Michael’s parents lost their lives in a terrible motor accident whiles returning from a funeral in the Central Region. This was another sad day for Adwoa. Despite this unfortunate event, Adwoa with the help of her brother who was in the US was able to take good care of his son. Kwadwo was able to make it to the Medical School and eventually graduated with distinction. He was the best in his graduating class. His mom and two of his uncles were at the graduation ceremony to celebrate the day with him. As usual, his mom was full of praise to God for seeing his son through the Medical School. She admonished her son to be good to all manner of people who came to him for treatment. Kwadwo was later posted to another town for him to start his career as a Medical Doctor.
Kwadwo always carried a smile and never hesitated to greet anyone he met on his way to his consulting room. Thus within a short period of his arrival at the hospital he seemed to be liked by everyone both the medical and the non medical staff. He had a listening ear and had time for his patients too especially the sick children. He even decided to spend his weekends with these children telling them stories and sharing the Word of God with them. His mom heard about all these and continued to pray for him. All this while, it had never occurred to Kwadwo to ask his mom who his father was and his whereabouts.

One Saturday evening Kwadwo was just finishing his dinner and he had a call from the hospital. This was an emergency case. Someone had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and he was the only doctor closer to the hospital so they had to fall on him. Kwadwo got there only to realize that the person who was hanging between life and death had the same name as him. The nurses on duty too were surprised about the resemblance. Kwadwo did his best and was able to stabilize the condition of the patient. He went into his office and called his mom on phone to inform her of the new development. She rushed to the hospital and confirmed to Kwadwo that the man lying there was his father who abandoned them when he was in her womb. He went back to the ward to attend to the man. He went with his mom. The man was then conscious and was talking to one of the nurses. The moment he saw Kwadwo’s mom, he started shedding tears. He then asked for forgiveness from Kwadwo and his mom. They forgave him. When he got better, he was discharged from the hospital. Kwadwo was able to have a hearty chat with his father before he left, promising to come back and take up his responsibilities as a father. He came back as promised and was able to open a clothing shop for Kwadwo’s mom, went to see her relatives and performed the necessary marriage rites and finally married Adwoa. Kwadwo was thankful to God for bringing back his dad. His mom too was very happy. From that day onwards Kwadwo seemed to be the most happiest person in the world. Thats the power of a forgiving heart.

The Writer

He was just a simple man and he lived within the community taking part in all their activities, interacting with the people and even playing with the children. The people only knew him to be an employee of the Local Government. In fact they thought he worked for the District Assembly in the town. Little did they know that he was a Writer who was moving from town to town or village to village observing the people and writing nice, humorous and fascinating stories about the people.
He will come to a community and stay there for three or four months and he had no wife and kids because he lost his family on one of his trips. He made a vow to himself never to stop writing stories that will always bring smiles on the faces of people anytime they read them. These stories were always published in the newspapers and he wrote under the pseudonym “Ghana Ba” (Ghana’s son or Son of Ghana) but his real name was Selasie Kuma. He always spent an hour every evening with the men at the palm wine joint in the middle of the town. Most of the men met there after a hard day’s work to placate their souls with the sweet drink of the palm nut tree. Once they gathered there and the drinks started flowing, the stories also flowed. These stories were both entertaining and pleasant but sometimes laced with a dose of comedy and satire. The palm wine seller was always ready to serve more calabashes of the drink the moment he realized that their calabashes were empty. Thus the writer was always able to write down some stories.
Ghana Ba was very ethical in his writings and he always acknowledged the owners of the stories by ending the stories with their initials. He did not want to be accused of plagiarizing people’s thoughts when these stories were eventually published in the local newspaper. He was not much of a drinker but he made sure that he only consumed one small calabash of palm wine. Ghana Ba wanted to be alert and have a clear mind so as not to miss the stories coming from these men. But little did he know that someone was watching him. There was a detective who was working undercover in the community. He was investigating a murder case in the community and he was also living in the community. He would leave as soon as he completed his investigations into the murder of Mr. Kofi Asiamah. Mr. Asiamah was murdered whiles he was on his way to his farm early in the morning three months ago by some unknown people. All attempts by the police investigators to apprehend the culprits proved futile as no one in the community was willing to talk to them about the case. The detective knew he could get information from the palm wine joint since that was the venue for discussing every issue in the community. The moment he saw Ghana Ba, the detective’s instincts told him this man was not a native of the community, so he started watching and following him. He was always reading the stories in the local newspaper, and saw some similarities in those stories with the ones he heard at the palm wine joint. He then concluded that someone who always frequented that joint could be the writer of those stories.
He was being pressured by his superiors to find the culprits as early as possible, and this was giving him sleepless nights since no one was coming forward with information. On that particular day, the detective got to the palm wine joint early and he sat there for an hour sipping his drink before the others joined him. The writer was also there. Two men came in and they started talking about the murder case with one telling the other that he knew the perpetrators of the crime. Just at that very moment, the detective heard some rumblings in his tummy, that was unfortunate, he thought. He tried suppressing it but he could not so he left. He came back after an hour only to meet an empty joint. He decided to visit Ghana Ba and from his observations knew that he could be trusted. Just as he was about to sit down Ghana Ba heard a knock on the door. He wondered who will knock on his door at that time of the night since it was almost 10pm. He opened the door and there stood before him a tall man who was well built, he also realized that the man was in disguise. The detective introduced himself and was ushered into the room. That was when Ghana Ba realized that his cover had been blown. He knew the detective was going to ask him questions about the murder case so he quickly took out his recorder and handed it over to him. He confessed being the writer of the stories but told him that he was not going to publish this particular murder story because he felt the culprits had to be brought to book. Thus, both men promised not to reveal each other’s identity to anyone. Ghana Ba was able to identify the location of the two men who were discussing the murder case at the palm wine joint, thus he made the detective’s work very easy for him. He thanked him and left.
The next morning at dawn, the two men were picked up and upon questioning by the police, they gave information leading to the arrest of the murderers. These two men were baffled as to how the police got to know that they knew the perpetrators of the crime. They then realized that someone might have heard them discussing the issue at the palm wine joint. In the end the murderers were found guilty by the court and jailed for life. Ghana Ba left the community even before those two men were questioned by the police. He moved on to the next town to look for new stories to write, after all he was just a writer and what do writers do? They write stories and bring smiles on the faces of people. Watch out, your town or community could be next on the Writer’s list.

The Visitor

Kwame called his friend Kwadwo to inform him of his visit, and he was to spend two weeks since he was coming to town to work on a certain project. Due to his tight budget, Kwame could not afford to stay in a hotel for the two weeks that he will be in Takoradi. As it was deemed to be one of the most expensive cities in Ghana. Kwadwo was very happy because he had lost contact with his friend just after their graduation from the university five years ago. He started relishing the conversation they will be having when Kwame comes to stay at his place for the next two weeks. He knew very well they will definitely talk about their days at the university and the memories kept coming up. A smile just appeared on Kwadwo’s face as he walked to his office that very morning. His secretary asked him why he was smiling but he told her that he was just happy and not because of anything in particular. He called home and asked his wife to tidy up the guest room because he was expecting an important visitor who will be staying with them for the next two weeks. As usual, she asked the normal questions, “Who is that friend”? “Man or woman”? “Whats the person’s reason for coming to stay”? “How are we going to feed him for the next two weeks”? And she ended by telling Kwadwo, “This means that you have to increase the housekeeping money since we will be having an additional mouth to feed in the house”. Kwadwo did not object but answered his wife with truthfulness and sincerity.

Kwame arrived the next day in the afternoon and he was picked by Kwadwo from the bus station. But before they went home, these two friends had to pass by a pub to empty some green bottles of beer just to be in the mood for the memories to start coming up. They got home just as dinner was ready and Kwadwo’s wife welcomed Kwame to their humble abode. The children also joined them at the dinner table and a great meal it was. After dinner, Kwadwo took Kwame to the guest room which was self-contained and well furnished. They had a conversation for about thirty minutes and Kwadwo left to shower and made sure the children were asleep in their room. He later joined his wife in bed after reading ten pages of a Tom Clancy book “The Sum of All Fears”. He told himself that he will continue the next day. Meanwhile Kwame due to his tiredness just fell asleep on the bed only to wake up in the middle of the night to realize that he had not taken his bath. He decided to continue sleeping and take his bath early in the morning before setting off to start his project. Kwame was an architect and he was in the city to supervise the construction of an ultra-modern ICT center in Takoradi, thus he was needed only for two weeks just to make sure that those in charge of the actual construction did the right thing.
Kwame woke up early the next day, took his bath and his friend Kwadwo served him breakfast. He hurriedly ate and left for the construction site. When he got the, he introduced himself the foreman and then told them what he was there for. They also promised to work with him, thus Kwame immediately established cordial relations with the rest of the workers. He told them to let him know if they have any problems with the work and even their private matters.

As the days passed by, the work was progressing steadily and Kwadwo and his family also continued to see to it that Kwame was well catered for and made to feel comfortable. Just when it was left with two days for Kwame to finish his work and go home, he was visited by one of the workers at the construction site who told him that he had an important information for him. This worker eavesdropped on two men planning to attack and rob Kwame’s friend and his family that very night. He quickly informed his friend and thanked the worker. Kwame then met Kwadwo in town and they went to make a report at the nearest police station. That night the police deployed heavily armed personnel in mufti in Kwadwo’s house. They made it look like there was a party going on in the house. Just around midnight, the plain clothes policemen hid themselves at strategic locations in the house. Around 2am, two men with AK47 riffles scaled the wall of Kwadwo’s house. They then proceeded to the main door, but they never expected to be surprised by the policemen who surrounded them just before they could break the door. They quickly dropped their guns and made an attempt to run, but they could not escape. They were arrested and quickly sent to the police station. Kwadwo and his family came out. Kwame also came out and Kwadwo did not know what to tell his friend. This was because, his friend who was just visiting has saved his life and the entire family from harm. It seems Kwame came to visit at the right time. If Kwame had not visited his friend, the robbers would have caused a major harm to Kwadwo and his family. In fact Kwame was an angel sent to protect Kwadwo’s family. But Kwame went with Kwadwo to visit the worker who gave him the information. Kwadwo rewarded him with a huge sum of money and he was also very happy for Kwadwo’s appreciation. Kwadwo and Kwame’s friendship was strengthened and they promised to keep in touch with each other. Kwame left and Kwadwo was very thankful to God for sending Kwadwo to come and save him from harm. So when your friends visit you, be nice to them and see to it that they are comfortable, who knows they might be angels sent by God to come and protect you.

The Gambler

Michael was very happy to have been given admission at the University of Ghana, the nation’s premier university, and he was going to read BSC Psychology. He was to report on campus in a week’s time. Such was the excitement that he started imagining the friends he was going to make there. He also imagined how the atmosphere on campus will be like. He started writing a list of items he will need for the journey he was about to embark on. The list included items such as exercise books, two bags, one for lectures (a backpack) and a traveling bag, two pairs of shoes, one for church and the other for his movement on campus. He told himself that he will buy a casual wear later. The other items included, a gas stove plus a gas cylinder, and a whole lot of miscellaneous items which he will need later. He then submitted the list to his parents who were equally happy for their son.
Michael’s parents thought that he was matured enough to go to town and buy some of the items himself, so they gave him the money and told him to come back home as soon as he bought the items. They also warned him to be careful and watch out for pick pockets who were always preying on innocent victims. He promised to come back home safe and sound with all the items. Michael quickly took a shower, dressed up and he told his parents he was going to town to buy the items.

He got to the center of town and as he alighted from the taxi cab, he noticed that there was a crowd gathered in the middle of the lorry station. Michael became curious and moved towards the crowd. As he drew closer, he noticed that some people in the crowd were putting money on a table with a rope and some playing cards on it. He got there and a voice inside him was telling him to join them. He quickly moved forward and got closer to the table. Michael thought he could make a lot of money from this. At his first attempt he nearly won but luck eluded him and he had to part with one third of the money given to him. Michael did not give up but continued to play the game with the hope of getting his money back. But right there in the crowd stood three plainclothes police officers who were keenly monitoring the activities of the so called game master. They realized that he was seriously switching the cards on the blind side of the gamblers and he also had majority of the audience as his friends. These people cheered him up and unsuspecting victims were made to believe that they could actually win some money by playing the game. The undercover cops were there to effect the arrest of the game master and his accomplices but they were just waiting for the right time to make their move.
Michael placed another bet and as the cards were being shuffled by the game master, Michael noticed that the game master had intentionally taken out one card which was somehow glued to his palm. He confronted the game master but he denied doing that. This resulted in confusion, at that very moment, the undercover cops moved in and held the game master with three of his accomplices. They also saw the trick used by him to dupe people of their money. Michael got all his money back and he thanked the undercover cops who whisked the game master and his three accomplices away to the nearest police station. Michael quickly left to buy the items he needed for school.

When he got home, Michael never told his parents what had happened to him. He vowed never to indulge in any gambling activity. He had learnt his lesson the hard way. If not for the undercover cops, he would have been crying by now and his parents would have found it childish on his part to do that. They would have also stopped them from trusting him. To make matters worse for him, his twin brothers would have made him the laughing stock in the neighborhood as their teasing had no end. He thanked God for the presence of the undercover cops. From that day onwards, Michael vowed never to involve himself in any form of gambling whatsoever no matter how real or true it seemed. Now his aim of going to the university was on course.

Fighting Temptations

1. Kwesi was on his way to work on that fateful day and he was in a hurry, he did not notice two children following him from afar. These two children had made up their minds to approach Kwesi and ask him for money to buy food since they were very hungry and had no food to eat. Their parents had passed away and no family member was willing and ready to take care of them. They were left to roam the streets all day and slept in front of someone’s shop in the night. These two children had virtually turned into beggars as they had no one to cater for them. They had to stop going to school after their parents died in a terrible accident a year ago. They approached Kwesi and asked for money, he had no option but to give them his last 5 Ghana Cedis. This meant that he will have to be on an empty stomach till he went back home after work. Since he had some food in the fridge, he found it worthy to sacrifice his money to make the children happy. The children narrated their story to him and tears began to fill Kwesi’s eyes. He went a step further by giving the children directions to his house. He wanted to take care of them. He also promised to come for them after work. As the children left to buy the food, Kwesi felt so sad about their situation. Just as he was getting closer to his workplace a man walked past him and something fell from his backpack without him noticing. It was a brown paper bag and upon careful scrutiny, Kwesi found to his surprise that the bag contained wads of cash neatly arranged. At that moment his conscience started to play tricks on him, one side was telling him to take the money and leave, the other part was also telling him to call the man and give his money back to him. Kwesi called the man and told him what had just happened, he checked his backpack and realized that the brown paper bag was not in it. The man was very grateful to Kwesi, he asked him to come and see him in his office after work. Apparently he was the CEO of one of the biggest firms in the country. That day he had a problem with his car and since he wanted to exercise, he decided to walk to his workplace. He offered to employ Kwesi with a better salary, a car and several allowances which was about ten times what he was earning at his current workplace. Kwesi was dumbfounded and gobsmacked. The man gave him his business card. Kwesi was just grinning from ear to ear as they parted ways. Now he can take very good care of the two children he met earlier on and provide them with the home they badly deserve. Kwesi resigned from his job and accepted the man’s offer. Your guess is as good as mine as to what happened next.

2. Kofi was a hardworking guy and he performed all his tasks assigned to him at the workplace with so much determination. He was someone who showed respect to everyone no matter the status of the person. Due to this, he was easily approached and liked by most people he came into contact with. He made sure his wife got all the attention and care that she deserved. He left home very early that Monday morning because he had some unfinished work at the office. He quickly hailed a cab and gave the driver directions. He got there within a few minutes and got to work. By midday he was done with the work. Kofi decided to rush home and have lunch since he had the urge to eat some home cooked food. When he got home, he realized that there was music playing in the living room and the door too was not locked. He phoned his wife but she was not picking. As he entered the living room he heard some moaning sounds coming from the bedroom, he got closer, opened the door only to see his wife and another man in bed having sex. He thought of picking the machete in the kitchen to kill them but his conscience just told him not to do that. So he clapped and they immediately realized that someone was watching them. The man quickly jumped out of the bed and started dressing up, his wife was in tears. Kofi watched as the man went down on his knees to ask him for forgiveness. What would you have done if you found yourself in this situation?

3. Ama woke up early that morning to go to work but due to the house chores she had to take care of, she missed the company bus. She had no option but to pick a “troski”/”trotro” (commercial passenger vehicle). She was very lucky to have met one just as she got to her junction and this particular one was going towards her workplace which was in the center of the city. She was also the first passenger. The radio was on and a gospel song was being played. Fortunately it was one of her favorites, so she could not help singing along. As other passengers joined the vehicle at the various stops, they just looked at her in amazement as she sang her heart out. One of the passengers even promised to find a producer for her, but Ama just laughed about it and all the passengers started praising her for her sweet and silky voice. Some of them were even wondering why she was not contesting in any of the numerous music reality shows. They told her she will win hands down. She thanked them for the compliments. She felt very happy and told herself this particular day was one of her happiest days in her life and she was starting it on a very wonderful note. She gave the driver’s mate (conductor) 20 Ghana Cedis and was supposed to be given a balance of 18 Ghana Cedis. She was so much into the song that she alighted without collecting her balance. Before she realized, the troski sped off. Ama could not believe what had just happened to her. That day she had to go without food during her lunch break, but she had to borrow some money from a colleague worker before going home. For the next two days, she was able to join the company bus to and from work, that saved her some money. But the following week she missed the bus again, and she had to board a commercial vehicle to work. She was lucky to have boarded that same vehicle that sped off with her money. She confronted the conductor, but he denied taking her money away. She even reminded him that she was the lady who was singing along whiles the gospel song was being played in the vehicle. But this also did not convince the conductor. She paid her fare, but this time around the conductor mistakenly gave her her balance with 5 Ghana Cedis extra. As she was about to alight, she realized the mistake and a voice deep inside her was telling her to take the money and leave, another voice was also telling her to do the right thing by giving the conductor the extra money. She thought of what happened the other time and realized that you don’t repay evil with evil but with love, kindness and truthfulness. She gave the conductor the extra balance and she immediately felt content and happy within her. What would you have done if you find yourself in Ama’s situation? Just be honest.

Reading Review, by Kofi Larbi

Reading is the quintessential ingredient to develop both mentally and physically but in Africa there are times when books are not accessible to children to read or that there are not enough facilities provided for reading. The average African child especially in the rural area is not socially engineered to walk to the library himself to go and read to fill his curiousity. All his questions about life are answered by his parents who’d rather he put his time in practical things like manual chores around the house or go farming.

The girl child is always at a disadvantage when it comes to education in general and so reading is out of the question.

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In this globalized world where children in other countries are doing and creating innovative things, the African child still lags behind in intellect and knowledge because they are generally just users of the products created by other children worldwide. With the lack of the basic and necessary foundation of reading, African children grow up to only perpetuate the status quo of being second rate citizens of the world.

The I Believe In Reading Project was founded on the principle of getting children to read and therefore providing the necessary facilities for reading.  The primary aim of the project was to raise a thousand books to be donated to the Tamale Regional Library in a month. A book collection (and buying) drive was organized and in total 1368 books were gathered in one month and out of this of thousand was donated to the children’s library.

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In consultations with the regional library, the project also realized that the library had a mobile van that was sent to outreach districts where children had no access to books or a library but there were challenges with requisition of materials and facilitation of such journeys further into the hinterland.  The project agreed to part fund and sponsor such outreach as and when it was planned and executed. So far we have part sponsored one such outreach sending volunteers and fueling the van.

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After the book donation, in consultation with the director of the regional library, it was realized that some pupils, inasmuch as would want to read books could only come to the library on weekends and they were so far away that it had to be an organized trip with the  students or pupils hiring a vehicle, usually a motorking cycle to cart then to the library. In the capital and other cities Ghana where people took reading for granted, these children were usually on an excursion just to spend the day at the regional library to read.  This story caught the attention of The Multimedia News team (Joy Tv)who were in the library to cover an event and the project was called upon to help out if possible.

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I Believe in Reading together with the library staff took a trip to the school and donated 300 books to the school’s library. The school population of almost 200 had only 8 books in a closet they aptly named Little Library. In his acceptance preach the headmaster of the school lamented that their plight made them handicapped to provide quality education for the pupils. With the lack of a proper library, students didn’t get to explore that much.

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With this speech, another dimension of the project was born. Not only will I Believe In Reading just provide the books for the schools and communities to start libraries, it will also get a fitting structure, at least a shed, where pupils in the community could sit under after school hours to read as extracurricular. What needed to be done will be to facilitate a teacher to supervise and a structure to put the books in, that can be wheeled in and out of storage and put under lock and key. So far we are yet to build any such structures.

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Apart from the institutionalized donation of books there is also the facilitating of personal libraries to children within the communities.

Recently the.project partnered the African Youth Writers Organization to organize a Funky Reading and Writing Clinic where 25 children were taken from basic schools in the Tamale area and taught reading and writing skills. The aim of the clinic  was to make these selected children peer mentors so they could reach out to their mates. Each child was to be set up with an individual personal library of 150 books at home and so far only 12 of the children have got the books for their own libraries.

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I Believe In Reading further gives numerous books randomly to children in the streets everyday. We spot a child who looks nerdy and obviously likes to read we give a few books based on the interaction and interests. Pupils at a local primary school get a bag of books from I Believe In Reading and HTC Foundation,  others in extra classes after school get reading and writing  materials, the local shoemaker’s children gets books, so does the airtime seller whose boys are always jumping about after school but will settle down to read a good book. There usually is no criteria for these group of donations.

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The project so far has been sponsored by friends and supporters usually via social media campaigns. Apart from going round collecting books, both old and new, we have an arrangement with some bookshops that give the project boxes of children’s books at a discount to support the project. Donations have come in cash to pay for the books and also in kind via book donations and even other materials.

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Furthermore some Ghanaian authors have also been very supportive with their books, some even internationally acclaimed award winning books, for which we have been very grateful.

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I Believe In Reading is not done in a vacuum but in partnerships with other like minded organizations that work with and around children in general and literacy in specific. Some of these include Help The Child Foundation,  The Readers Club, Hop In Academy which are based in Tamale and GhanaThink and iHav Foundations which are international.

Apart from partnering with other organizations I Believe in Reading project is supported by volunteers from the book collection point until donation and also at self styled and partnering events. The volunteers are sometimes motivated with book rewards or trips to book donations in rural areas. Some volunteers were brought from Accra to Tamale to participate in the very first 1000 book donation to the Tamale Regional Library.

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Sometimes I Believe In Reading sponsors some of the volunteers education by providing books that are relevant to their courses of study since they’re mostly tertiary students, especially in management and IT. The project also rewards on the ground coordinators with current books at Ghanaian authors some even not yet on the market.

For the past over a year that I Believe in Reading Project has existed, it has expanded from just staying in the northern region to support other library building projects and other literacy projects in other regions. But the main focus is still on the northern region.

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We are grateful for everyone who has supported so far and inasmuch as it is a daunting task we have set ourselves to do our bit in facilitating child literacy in the northern region and Ghana as a whole.

We are still counting on the support from individuals and groups who find our cause worthy of supporting. Little by little one child at a time we are building a leading nation because a reading child is a leading adult.

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They say brighten the corner where you are but like I always say it begins with YOU!

Author: Kofi Larbi

You can visit his blog at http://www.kofilarbi.wordpress.com