Visit to Tolon

So as part of the Pieces for Piece Project in collaboration with the Northern Regional Library I find myself sitting in a car heading towards a remote community in the Tolon district of the northern region to attend a book donation and reading program for the one junior high school there that serves the surrounding communities – like 5 other communities all attend that one school.
Portia representing the iHav Foundation and her own Africa Youth Writers Organization, her young assistant, myself and one other staff member find ourselves crammed at the back of a Toyota Hilux double cabin whilst the regional director and the metro director take up the front. The regional director is driving.
A week earlier the pupils of the school who had formed a Readers Club had managed to organize a “motorking” that fine Saturday to bring them to the regional library, about 40km away so they could come and spend the day in the library reading. Obviously these were children who were ready to read but where were the books to read.
The Pieces for Piece Project seeks to collect, organize and provide books for pupils in deprived communities so they can have access to reading material to better educate themselves and this coincides with yours truly #iBelieveInReading project of supporting any organization or venture that is taking steps to inculcate, imbibe or improve the reading culture or habits of especially school children in Ghana.
To this effect over a 1000books have been collected and bought and distributed with the support of friends on Facebook and some partner organizations such as Action Child Mobilization – Ghana, based in Bolgatanga. The organization has been a partner for the reading project from the onset because it ties in with their programs too to educate children by inculcating in them a reading culture. Most of the books for this donation came from them.
We were therefore excited to be going to this school in the Tolon district because we already knew that they were going to appreciate the books that we were going to donate. But we were not prepared for what we saw in the school.
After turning off the Nyankpala main highway we just kept driving into the vast arid land which was dry and dusty and the conversation in the car was centred on how much there was such vast land in the north and how it was being under utilized and also how the migration into the city centres was affecting living in these areas.
A photo they say is worth a thousand words and the picture below is the extent to which the junior high school with almost 200pupils lacked reading material, even textbooks.

image

The Little Library for which my bedside drawer is even bigger than contained only 18 books and I just stood there in a state of shock. These photos show me trying to put on a happy face to hide my indignation at the travesty of this magnitude. Here was a mini closet which had less books than I had when I was even 5 years old and all I could think of was if these pupils had to write the same exam as pupils in Morning Star or Bishop Bowers (that’s too high), let’s just say Mamprobi Sempe 5&6 Junior High.
The same exam??
Conducted by WAEC???
The team met with the headmaster of the school and the regional director of the northern regional library promised to visit with the mobile library to support their reading and I pledged to do my best to help with designs on to how best to build mobile shelves to put the books in and also build a comfortable external shed like structure outdoors where the pupils could read in their spare time, of course supervised by the teachers. The readers club also promised to be more active and get more members to join in the reading since they had more books now.
But it was the headmaster’s acceptance speech that did it in for me.  The headmaster lamented their plight and stated that even though he understood the importance of reading and wanted to do his best to improve the quantity of books he had in his school, he was at his wit’s end as to how to go about it and that’s why he had instituted, organized and facilitated the pupils sojourn over that long distance to the regional library to spend the day to have a feel of what it was like to be in a library.
I couldn’t take it anymore. It just dawned on me how growing up in the city we had taken so much for granted and even a simple story book, almost 200 pupils had to share ONLY 18 books.
I put the camera down, went out and wept. 
Yes I did!!
I  have goosebumps writing this piece in the dead of the night, standing by the darkened Tamale roadside with the passing motorbikes, trucks and long distance buses for company and the occasional dog or goats. The full moon is up there blessing me with its light and since its shining brightly you know my lights are off.
The excursion today make me realize and reiterated one important thing I have always been harping on. That to move this nation forward it is not always that we’d have to look up to the government to do something about our situation. The government has it’s own priorities and we also got ours plus our needs.  Yes! We can look up to God but God will not come down to do it for us.  He would use human beings like me and you to create that change in humanity and make this world a better place. God will use you only if you avail yourself.
The journey back was in silence and everyone of us seemed to be in a pensive mood each with our own individual thoughts. I know what I have to do to promote reading in Ghana to make this nation a reading nation and I will need your support. You also find your niche and make an impact no matter how small. 
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!!!!

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4 Responses to “Visit to Tolon”

  1. I have read this piece too. Like I said earlier, I will back you to the hilt. Mobile libraries for the interior. Kola, Blessings Always.

  2. Didn’t get the message early. Saw the post on fb few minutes ago. Send them my love. They are doing great.

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