oh, you have tried

Sankpala officially opened the Sankpala School Library (finally) on October 2nd, 2010. Here’s a glimpse:

I first want to thank all of you for coming out today, to celebrate the inauguration of the Sankpala Youth Association, and the opening of the Avi CK John Library. I want to take a moment to recognize the man who Avi was. He was the father of SAYA, and without his wisdom and guidance, we would not be here for the inauguration today. Avi made it clear that he would take on the role as my own father while I was living so far from home. His love and encouragement pushed me to continue with the construction of the library, with teaching at the school and several other programs when I felt I didn’t have the patience or energy to continue. He will be greatly missed, and I am incredibly blessed to have had him in my life, even for just a short time. May his memory live on with every book read inside these walls.

I would also like to recognize all the hard work of the members and executives of the Sankpala Youth Association, specifically in regards to the construction of the library. When a Western volunteer takes on a project this large, we have a fear we are doing so because we believe that it is important, and the community just doesn’t want to say no to a gift. The members of SAYA worked so hard, and with no compensation besides the completion of this library for themselves and generations to follow. The pride they have for this work has made it clear that they believe in literacy and the future of Ghana as much as I do. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Congratulations on finishing such a big project. I am proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves. May this building be used to inspire your youth for years to come.

I would additionally like to thank others who have supported this project this year. The Chief of Sankpala and Assemblyman Ibrihim Haruna, members of SCAN, The DCE Salisu Yusef, and the Central Gonja Education Dept. May you continue to support the Library when I am home-bound.

Lastly, I want to personally dedicate my work for this project to my JHS students. You are the future, and therefore, the future of this community and this country is very, very bright. Thank you for who you are, this building stands because you inspire me. May you read and read and read. May you love learning as much as I love all of you.

Thank you.

Some hi-lites of the inauguration
  • Hip bumping women 3x my age, aka dancing the torah torah.
  • The assemblyman cracking himself up as he swore in the SAYA executives
  • Honoring Avi John.
  • The looney Arabic teacher leading the school children in some Arabic chant at the most inopportune times
  • The chief’s wish that the library be named after me: “The Maria Library”. Yea, we’re working on that
  • Photo–op with half my community.
  • The look on their faces when we opened that door. I will never forget that for as long as I live.
This library took a couple of continents to build. I want to deeply thank all of those who were involved. A big thanks to the PTA of PS 32, to Flushing Christian School (who also had a hand in teaching me to read, may I add) and my little brothers, for donating all the books to the library. Liz, thanks for the sanity checks and your endless help and support. Also to USAID, Martin Levine, Billy Greenberg, Peter Gündling, my family at The First Presbyterian Church of Flushing, The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, and many more of my family and friends who donated so generously to the project. You have made a major difference in the lives of children who thirst for knowledge. And dad, I would give up a limb for you to see these kids reading in the library. The day of the inauguration, you were there. The last book placed on the shelves, you were there. The first finished book, you were there. Thank you for loving children you don’t even know.


Sinae Hong said…
Such an inspirational speech! Congratulations on finishing up the library and it's so great that you get to see it being utilized before you leave!
wwwkwata.blogspot.com said…
u a my next blog. nice
Bee's Blog said…
This is fascinating. I used to live in Nigeria! And the Ivory Coast.

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