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The Little Library Making a Big Difference

By Veenaa Agrawal
The Little Library Making a Big Difference

Located just outside the premises of the Abelemkpe Basic 2 School, The Little Library is a shipping container, ingeniously refurbished into a compact, yet roomy library facility for use mostly by students in and around the Abelemkpe (greater Accra) community.

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, a 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.

“To me, Ghana is home,” Veenaa says. “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.”

Veenaa explained her motivation further: “Living in Ghana, I noticed that, although we have a lot of very 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 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 five days a week for students and families to come and borrow books. It carries books of every kind and for every age; between storybooks for toddlers, encyclopedias, fiction novels, and literary classics, this library serves everyone. Students and families can borrow these books from the library free of charge and return them 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. It is a simple method for keeping 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 between 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 5,000 submissions. The foundation also plans to award 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 such a fundamental skill as writing. Inspiring creativity within students and encouraging them to be innovative is another reason why this competition will be beneficial to students who take part in it. Creativity helps individuals become better problem solvers, 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!”

Veenaa Agrawal is a Grade 12 student at Lincoln Community School in Accra, Ghana.

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11/12/2020 - slevydc
These are fantastic initiatives! Well done Ms. Agrawal. If my students are interested in learning more about the logistics of the library because they might like to replicate your efforts, is there a website where they could get further information?
11/11/2020 - GMH
Fantastic project. Well done, Ms. Agrawal. Lincoln Community School clearly supports local collaborations and develops leadership and social responsibility of all learners in its community. Congratulations.



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