Transformational Canadian Lauded for Work in Ghana

Kathy Knowles with her most important clients

Government of Canada officials witness amazing work by dedicated and tireless Canadians abroad. Here is one such story, brought to you by the High Commission of Canada to Ghana and Togo.

Recognition for a Transformational Canadian

Kathy Knowles with a very attentive young reader in Ghana.

The Accra Training College Community Library in Madina – coming soon!.

Trudy Kernighan, Canadian High Commissioner, with Prof. Joe Amoako Tuffour and Kathy Knowles at the Canadian High Commission.

Kathy and Joanna Felih, head librarian of the Osu Children’s Library Fund, at the ceremony in Santiago de Compostela.

Kathy shares her latest book with Prof Amoako-Tuffour.

In follow-up to the Canadian High Commission’s news on Kathy Knowles, founder and director of the Canada-based Osu Children’s Library Fund, we were delighted to learn that Kathy was named one of Canada’s “25 Transformational Canadians” by the Globe & Mail and Cisco-Canada. The award celebrates 25 living citizens who have made a difference by immeasurably improving the lives of others.

Kathy Knowles is well-deserving of this honour. In the 20 years since she founded the Osu Children’s Library Fund, she has built six large community libraries in Accra, Ghana’s capital, and has helped and supported more than 200 smaller libraries throughout the country.

Kathy’s nomination was presented by Adwoa Badoe, a Ghanaian writer, now living in Canada. She is the author of several children’s books and a renowned storyteller. The award was sponsored by Cisco–Canada to mark the company’s 25th anniversary, with additional support from the Globe and Mail, CTV and la Presse.

“Kathy Knowles exemplifies the best of Canada abroad. We are delighted to hear about her continuing success promoting literacy in Ghana. We join the chorus of the thousands of Ghanaian children that she has helped with a congratulations to Kathy and all of her dedicated volunteers and staff at the Osu Children’s Library Fund” said Trudy Kernighan, Canada’s High Commissioner to Ghana.

This is not the first time Kathy has been honoured for her work. In the spring of 2010, the Osu Children’s Library Fund was also named winner of an important international award, the IBBY-Asahi Award for the promotion of reading. The award was given at the 32nd Congress of IBBY (International Board for Books for Young People) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The $10,000 prize money, provided by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper company in Japan, will be used to further literacy and reading for all in Ghana and other African countries

Next Steps for the Osu Children’s Library Fund

With so many successful libraries in Ghana, Kathy is pleased to announce that a new library will be opened in April 2011. It is located on the grounds of the Accra Training College in Madina on the northern edge of the capital and has been designed by Roger Amenyogbe, a Ghanaian-born architect living in Vancouver.

Kathy Knowles, who now runs the Osu Children’s Library Fund from her home in Winnipeg, has also served as a consultant in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Uganda to help them set up and manage children’s libraries. Recognizing the serious dearth of books available for early readers in Ghana, she has published 30 photo-illustrated books for the youngest children, all carrying her own photos. These are now widely distributed in Ghana as well as half a dozen other African countries.

Kathy is a good friend to the Canadian High Commission and an excellent example of how one person can positively affect the relationship between two countries. The Canadian High Commissioner, Trudy Kernighan, was pleased to meet with her during her most recent visit to Ghana to learn about the impact of her libraries. Moreover, Canadian-Ghanaian Professor Joe Amoako Tuffour (who is in the process of turning his own home into a children’s library in Ghana) was on-hand to hear about some of the Osu’s Children’s Librarians lessons running successful children’s libraries throughout the country.