Ghana Together works with our Ghanaian friends of Western Heritage Home, a Ghanaian-registered and managed non-profit, to improve social, educational, and health conditions in Axim, Ghana. Together we accomplish projects, connect WHH to resourceful individuals and organizations, and create sustainable programs. We make a real difference to real people in a local, grassroots effort. Our website at tells our story.

May 11, 2016

Axim Public Library Update


…that’s the total number of book checkouts recorded by the Axim Library staff in 2015! That’s probably about 14,000 more than recorded before the advent of the Mobile Library! As one Ghanaian put it to Maryanne Ward on a recent visit: “They have done well, by God’s grace.” And, we might add, by determined human effort!

Beginning early Dec 2014, the library staff---Gaddiel Eyison and James Kwesi Armado, led by their Regional Director Mercy Ackah---initiated a successful Mobile Library Service, powered by a motor-tricycle, which serves 15 Primary/Junior High schools in Axim proper and surrounding villages. We worked with our partner, Western Heritage Home, to put that over the top.

Regional Director Mercy Ackah meeting with staff

For the benefit of our Ghanaian readers, the schools (apologies for spelling errors…) are:

Morning Star
Saint Augustinos
Christ the King
Brawire Akymim
Life International
Roman Catholic

2,384 children paid the 1 cedi fee (about 25 cents US) for their once-per-year library registration fee in 2015. First term 2016 is coming along nicely, too. (Actually their parents did...)

Major thanks to:

-Parents, who pay the registration fee, encourage their child’s education, see to their uniforms and notebooks, and listen to them read aloud. Not so easy with probably no electricity for lights in the home. The library staff admonishes the children: “take this book to the house and read it to your mother!” Mom learns to read a bit better, too, and enjoys seeing her child’s progress.

-The elected Axim Municipal Assembly, led by Mr. James Baidoe, Municipal Chief Executive, which budgets 90 cedis/month (about $25) for fuel for the tricycle, provides the rooms in the Axim Community Center to house the library, and tries to fund basic supplies such as tape, pens, book card/pocket paper, etc.

Check-out time!

-Headmistresses and Headmasters and teachers who work around the weekly disruptions---the Mobile Library is here!  (Not perfectly scheduled---the tricycle is not very speedy!) And support the library staff by encouraging the students, monitoring the care of these precious books (do you know how scarce they are??), urging the children to ask their parents for the registration fee.

The Mobile Library is here! TERRIFICALLY EXCITING!!!

-Friends who donate books---wonderful books---the kind of books they’d be happy to give their own children or grandchildren---no 40-year-old encyclopedias for our world-class students in Axim!

-Ebby Mienza and his family who pack up the books that have been shipped to them in Maryland and get them to the container. And the shipper who gets the container onto the ship, and takes it across the Atlantic.

Ebby Mienza and his daughter re-packing books into standard-sized boxes for the shipping container. They have processed thousands of books in this manner. Ebby grew up in Axim.

-Friends in Accra who meet the ship at the port, off-load the books, do the import paperwork, and deliver them to the Axim Library.

Two very good guys. Ishmael Baidoe (left) lived for years in Finland, George Hayford in Atlanta. They are back "home" in Ghana and help by collecting books from the port at Tema and delivering to Axim. No easy task!

Most recent shipment, delivered to the Axim Library and still being unpacked as we write. 19 boxes!

-The Ghana Library Authority (the national government department that oversees libraries) that pays the staff, provides accession numbers, a National Service worker to help, tries its best with minimal resources to champion public libraries country-wide, and nourishes intellectual freedom.

There are challenges:

-In rural areas like Axim, this is the first generation where many students finish junior high to say nothing of senior high. Leaders are trying to instill the reading habit, but schools generally have few textbooks and no library books, so the public library is IT!

Students with their library books in their classroom. With these books, they can actually use their reading skills. Without these books, they basically have only the teacher's writing on the blackboard, and their own copying of the teacher's writing in their exercise books.

-Books don’t hold up well in the tropical climate. Also, these children are the first generation to actually handle books. They are taught to be careful, but…the staff uses a lot of book repair tape!

Kind of chaotic, but he's READING his book no matter what!

-Some parents feel the one-cedi library registration fee, mandated by the Ghana Library Authority, contradicts the principle of tuition-free school and free public libraries and are reluctant to pay, although it is affordable.

When parents are late or can't pay school fees, students are not allowed to attend school. So, they come on their own initiative to the library to read on their own. 

-Understandably, the school staffs would prefer libraries in their individual schools---all but impossible with current national resources.

-The cost of shipping physical books from the US is high, even with our cost-saving system. And books are simply not available to purchase there. Some recommend skipping physical books and going to digital readers, but that introduces whole new challenges with sporadic (and expensive) electrical and internet services for charging/downloading, care, distribution, etc.

-Some recommend using buses as mobile libraries, with built-in shelving, computer terminals, etc. that go from school to school. They are being used in some cities. But that brings the problem of the high cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance. We feel Western Heritage Home leadership (our Axim-based partner organization) made a wise choice by going to the thrifty mobile tricycle. Clunkier, but affordable, and works fine in this semi-rural area.

More than you all wanted to know…we tend to get carried away with this library stuff!! Ha!

Thanks for all 

When you’re cruising summer yard sales and farmers’ markets, if you spy some great children’s books, you know what to do!

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