Monday, July 11, 2011

Voices: Lawrence Donkor

                As a student, I liked reading books the most.  I also liked sports but I didn’t know how to play football well.  I would read storybooks and especially the history of past Ghanaian leaders.  I used to like reading about the history of Kwame Nkrumah.  I got to know how he was from a poor family and I got to know  the work he did, and how he grew up to be a special person. 
At first, my father used to acknowledge my education and would encourage me.  He told me I should continue what I am doing because he is prepared to look after me through whatever school I would like to go to.  I don’t know if it was only his lack of literacy, or there was a financial problem or something like that, but as I got older I found out that there wasn’t much hope for me.
When I was in Junior High School, my plan was to become someone like a lawyer.  When I saw those people, I just had a great feeling, and I knew I wanted to be one.  But when I realized that my father didn’t have the money and was not going to send me to school, I tried to divert my plans.
After I got positive results on my BECE [the examination to determine entrance to secondary school], I learned that my father decided he was not going to send me to Senior High School.  So I went to Wa, in Upper West Region, to live with my sister to learn about automotive mechanics.  After going through the apprenticeship for two and a half years, I decided not to continue with it: I still wanted to continue my education.  So I came back to Humjibre and tried to talk to my father and explain that I was not interested in the automotive field anymore, I wanted to learn more. Somehow he realized what I was trying to explain was important, so he decided he would send me to a technical institution in Kumasi.
                It was difficult being a boy from Humjibre in Kumasi.  My parents supported me a little, but what they used to give was not enough, so I tried to manage however I could.  If I had to take 1 cedi [US $.75]  for breakfast, I would squeeze myself to get 50 peswas  for coco [porridge] in the morning, so I would have 50 peswas in the afternoon.  It came to a point in time that I even tried to sell cigarettes to make some extra money. 
                After technical school, I wrote applications to mining companies, but I was ignored.  I connected with some family members in Bekwai to do some marketing work for about one year, and then I also applied to the military.  But just at that time, GHEI was advertising for a librarian.  I applied right away, but I did not get it!  Then in early January 2009, they called me told me that the person they had initially hired was not fulfilling their promise, so I should come and work as the librarian. So that’s how I came up to be a GHEI member.

               From January to December, Sunday is the only day that I have free.  In the morning, I have to be at work by 10 A.M to make sure the place is prepared and the Daily Graphic is available for the library being open from 2-4 P.M.  And then, I have to make sure the place is ready for 6 P.M. when we open again, and clean up when we close at 9 P.M.  I don’t have a break!   It’s not difficult work, but you have to manage yourself and your time well.  For one person to run all these things is hard, but somehow I do it and I still like it!
                I think the library is changing Humjibre.  It’s difficult for kids to have a place to study because not all students have electricity in their homes, but the library is a comfortable place and has plenty of lights.  They are also learning with friends and discussing issues together.  We can also see those students who are coming to the library are getting good marks on their exams and performing well academically. 
                Personally, the library has affected me too.  My English is better, and I’m not afraid of approaching foreign people.  And I’m also not afraid of approaching computers anymore!  I enter things into the computer, send emails, all those things.  Also, from the library, I know more about kids and how they behave.  When I have kids, I now know how to treat them better and what they like. 


                Reading is more than the word “important”.  The parents have to take the responsibility to encourage their children to come to the library, or buy books for them.  If you don’t invest, you won’t get anything in return, and it’s the same as investing in the future. Even if the money is not there, it is the parent's duty to at least encourage their kids to read.  The more you encourage, the more they’ll learn.
                For now, I think the Read-A-Thon is going to keep on improving.  We are getting bigger, and more students are coming, but after this year, we need to find a way to manage it better.   The idea for me is to figure out how we can keep giving school supplies and items, but also get materials into the schools so they have more too.  
                So far as what I’m doing for the community, I have to do what I can. I appreciate those who come to volunteer and work with GHEI, because we are working together, as one people, for the good of this community.
                Many people don’t see what GHEI is doing, here in Humjibre or elsewhere, because right now GHEI is helping the future generations to come.  They are making an investment in the health and education of the future of Humjibre. Many people don’t see this now, but they will in time.

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