Aftermore than a year of talking and brainstorming and planning and coordinating, the Kong-Gorug Library is now in existence!
It all started early last year. Esther took me to Kong-Gorug Primary to show me the school and introduce me to the headmaster, Martin. He mentioned at one point that the school didn't have a library and they wanted to get books. I said I'd see what I could do to help. And that's how a project was born.
Last summer I got an email from some Northern Region volunteers saying they wanted to get a grant going for a shipment of books from America. I jumped on that opportunity right away. Getting the grant filled took maybe a month or two, which then brought us to the end of last year. Around that time, Martin got the PTA together to raise funds to buy wood and build bookshelves, and at the beginning of this year, the shelves were built! Then all we had to do was wait for the books to be shipped and for them to arrive up in Bolga. Early this year the container was shipped, and at the beginning of April the container finally made it to its destination in Kumbosco, just outside Bolga.
After our All-Volunteer Conference, I scouted out the location of the book container with Martin. It was about a five minute taxi ride outside of Bolga, and a short walk off the main road. So one Wednesday, all the volunteers who were involved and available came up to Bolga to sort and distribute books. There were about 15 total volunteers who wanted books; about 10 came up to help sort. Our share of the container was 2,500 books, so everybody got roughly 250 books, some more, some less. I ended up with five big boxes that totaled 280 books- primary level sceince, geography, history and reference books, and junior high level science, math and literature textbooks. I also got a box of 50 junior high math and science textbooks for Stephanie who was on vacation. That Friday, with the remaining funds from the grant, Linda rented a big truck to come transport the boxes to PCV's sites or to the Tamale sub-office where volunteers could then come pick up. This saved us all a lot of hassle with taxis and tros, and saved us a lot of money. I helped load the truck full of book boxes, and then got them to deliver my six boxes right to my compound door, lucky for me.
By this point, the schools were on break. So the six boxes sat around my room for a few weeks until mid-May when the schools started the final term of this school year. Monday, May 13, the headmaster and I took the three boxes of primary-level books to Kong-Gorug (the other two boxes were for the junior high). Over a couple of hours, we sorted the books into reference, biography, history, storybook, and science categories and then I made an inventory of each section. And then we celebrated with a Guinness. I felt I deserved it after a year of working on the project.
We also discussed rules of the library and how books should be tracked and students held accountable. There will be a library period during the school day, and they will have access to it at nighttime (since they now have a solar panel!) with teacher supervision. A booklet will keep track of books checked out and who checks it out. We will also stamp each book with the name of the school and number each book.
I'm still waiting for school to be fully back in session; it usually takes a few weeks for students to all be back in school after a break. And its also the beginning of rainy season, so everyone has been busy sowing seeds for the new planting season. Once the kids are back, I'm goin to have them write thank-you notes to the grant donors. Martin is also trying to organize a PTA meeting to officially introduce the community's new library. But with everyone at farm now, we'll see how long it takes to happen!
Once I take care of those two things at the school, all I have left to do is wait for my mom to come visit next month and deliver the books that she has already sent to Accra, and then I'm DONE. So one out of my two main projects at site has worked- a 50% success rate isn't bad, right?