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The Library Tree: How a Canadian Woman Brought the Joy of Reading to a Generation of African Children
“You are proof that the vision and actions of just one person can make a tremendous difference in so many lives!” — Michaelle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, following a visit to the Nima Library, November 2006
It began one afternoon in the shade of a tree in the yard of a Canadian woman living in Ghana, West Africa. Kathy Knowles brought out a basketful of books thinking she might amuse the neighbourhood kids by reading to them.
Over 20 years, that simple storytelling session morphed into seven large community libraries in impoverished areas of the country’s capital, support for more than 200 similar initiatives around Ghana and other African countries, and a publishing venture that produces children’s books tailor-made for the African culture.
Kathy Knowles now runs her volunteer-based Osu Children’s Library Fund from her Winnipeg home with twice-yearly trips to Ghana. Her work promoting libraries and literacy in Africa has been recognised internationally. Her unflagging enthusiasm has created bricks-and-mortar projects and has brought the wonder of reading to thousands of children.