One Winnipegger is helping thousands of African children read.
Like a lot of people, Winnipeg’s Kathy Knowles begins her day at sunrise and finishes it well after sunset. Unlike most, though, she does this for two months of the year in Ghana.
Knowles is the founder of the Osu Children’s Library Fund (OCLF), an organization that has opened eight libraries in Accra, Ghana, and has helped 200 smaller ones in the country. She’s also supported projects in a number of other countries and has provided more than 100,000 children’s books to libraries around the world.
It’s a tough job and the long hours can be difficult, but she’s not about to complain. “I never feel burdened,” she says. “I adore what I do.” For her, philanthropy is about following her passion, and there’s nothing that excites her more than literacy and helping others get access to books.
Knowles started the OCLF in 1990, after her husband’s work in the mining industry brought them to Accra, Ghana’s capital city. Noticing that children around her didn’t have access to storybooks, she started reading to six of them under a tree in her garden. Besides opening libraries, the organization has also awarded high school scholarships.
Despite the hard work, Knowles, who runs OCLF from Winnipeg for most of the year, knows that the experience of becoming literate can transform a child’s life. “Children who read considerably tend to have inquisitive minds, with a curiosity extending beyond their immediate environment,” she says. “Being able to further one’s education goes a long way to provide the stepping stones out of poverty.” – S.B.