Abelemkpe's First Public Library


On the 20th of October, Abelemkpe's first public library was inaugurated.
On this morning, students and families from neighbouring schools and
communities, assembly members from Abelemkpe and Dzorwulu ,and the
municipal chief executive of the Ayawaso West District gathered to celebrate
this achievement.

The Little Library, situated outside Abelemkpe Basic "2" school, is the first
of its kind. The Rising Stars Development Foundation refurbished a shipping
container to build a compact yet effective library so that the surrounding
community can begin to read and educate themselves further.

Veenaa Agrawal, the 17 year old student from Lincoln Community School,
is the founder of the Rising Stars Development Foundation. She started the
foundation at the age of 15 as a way of giving back to her community. This
library has been one of the projects that the foundation has taken on since.
Veenaa says that "To me, Ghana is home and I wanted to do something to
give back to this amazing country that I am lucky to have lived in for my
entire life."

She says "living in Ghana, I noticed that although we have a lot of very smart
and intelligent students, these students and their families haven't always had
access to learning materials such as books and textbooks. I noticed this issue
worsen with the covid-19 pandemic, as students and families were struggling
to teach and learn at home without the proper materials. With the closing of
schools nationwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a large struggle for families
has been their lack of learning materials for children of all ages in various
grades. Families who do not have access to the internet must rely on books
and textbooks to continue teaching their kids, however a lot of families are
unable to provide their children with these resources. In response to these
issues, I decided to build this library. Moving forward, students and families
can have access to books and textbooks so we can continue to educate
ourselves and learn."

The Little Library will be open 5 days a week for students and families to come
and borrow books. The library carries books of every kind and for every age.
From storybooks for toddlers, encyclopedias, fiction novels to literary classics,
this library serves everyone. Students and families can borrow these books
from the library free of charge and return the books after a fixed period of
time. This way, families who were previously unable to teach their children at
home may now be able to do so.

Now more than ever, students must continue to read and further their education.
Reading not only develops literacy skills among students but also helps develop
their intellectual and critical thinking skills. I personally believe that this library
will be a valuable addition to the community as well as a simple method to keep
students' academically engaged and active.

Veenaa is sure that this library will be a valuable addition to the community, as
well as a source of pride. "Libraries are important cornerstones of a healthy
community," she says. Veenaa expressed these thoughts to the students of
Vichaans and Abelemkpe Basic School at the inauguration on Tuesday. "This
initiative is very dear to me because reading is one of my biggest passions.
Growing up, I was constantly reading. I read stories about princesses ruling
kingdoms, detectives solving mysteries, and wizards fighting off dragons and
I believe that these stories are what taught me to dream big. If the characters
in the books I was reading could defeat monsters and mythical creatures, why
couldn't I follow my dreams? I hope this library teaches you the same. If you look
at the front of the library, right below its name, you will see the quote 'Today a
reader, tomorrow a leader". I am a firm believer that when we begin to read and
engage with challenging material, not only do we improve our literacy skills, we
become more creative, better critical thinkers and communicators and more
confident. So I hope that with this library, I can spread my same love for reading
to all of you so we may all become leaders of tomorrow."

Through its various projects, Rising Stars Development Foundation aims to give
students the opportunity to improve their communication skills, express themselves
creatively and gain confidence in themselves all while helping students to reflect
and acquire a better perspective of the challenges their society faces so they may
become the leaders of tomorrow.

Other than the Little Library, The Rising Star Development foundation has also
created the Rising Writers Competition - a creative writing competition that aims
to educate Ghanaian students about creative writing. Knowing that not many
Ghanaian schools incorporate creative writing in their curriculum, the Rising
Writers Competition offers the opportunity for students in Ghana, from ages
12-16, to learn about creative writing and to participate in a short story writing
competition. Through this competition, the foundation is reaching around
10,000 students and is expecting around 5000 submissions. The foundation
also plans on awarding cash prizes and books to the 100 winners of the
competition.

This competition is extremely important because not only does it inspire
creativity within students, a trait that is often overlooked within the Ghanaian
education system, it also gives students the opportunity to improve on a
fundamental skill needed, writing. Inspiring creativity within students and
encouraging them to be innovative is another reason why this competition
will be beneficial towards students who take part in it. Creativity helps one
become a better solver, adapt their thinking to allow for the flow of the unknown
and approach situations from all angles.

Veenaa says that she hopes to spread this project to more communities in Accra.
"The benefits of reading should not only be felt by those in Abelemkpe. Hopefully,
if we are able to collect more sponsors and partners, we will be able to build
several Little Libraries across the city!"