Wigan charity helps to provide new chapter in African literacy

From left to right, are Debra Atherton, Sakeenah Feghir, Georgia Taylor, Andy Mercer, Cliff Oakley, Denise Oakley, Jacqui Taylor, Joan Melling, Mark Yates, Jim Atherton, Hazel Duffy
From left to right, are Debra Atherton, Sakeenah Feghir, Georgia Taylor, Andy Mercer, Cliff Oakley, Denise Oakley, Jacqui Taylor, Joan Melling, Mark Yates, Jim Atherton, Hazel Duffy

Donations of books to a Wigan charity have boosted a literacy project in Africa.

And volunteers who helped to amass the tomes have just had a first-hand chance of seeing them put to good use.

Without this input from the Wigan community, children in Ghana would be restricted to very few books — primarily dated text-books — and these children would struggle to improve their literacy.

Dr Mark Yates

Volunteers from Book-Cycle in The Galleries are just back from a trip to Ghana where the donations helped build libraries for local residents.

Book-Cycle is a volunteer run charity that sends free books to schools in developing countries. The charity seeks to empower communities in England and in developing countries through the provision of a variety of educational resources, helping communities to improve both their literacy and their love of learning.

Dr Mark Yates, one trustee of Book-Cycle who travelled to Ghana, said: “As a result of the generous donations from both individuals and schools in the Wigan borough, more children in Ghanaian schools now have access to a range of literature.

“Schools participated in the project in a number of exciting ways: for instance, some schools hosted a book-themed fancy dress or a non-uniform day. Some schools also asked each pupil to bring a book to school in addition to a £1 donation which then facilitated the student’s book being sent to primary schools in the Ashanti region of Ghana in Africa.”

Over the course of two weeks, five libraries were installed in schools with the help of Thrive Africa. Volunteers built shelves, tables, and chairs in addition to painting walls and furnishing the shelves with books from the container. Book-Cycle also worked with Enliven Mama Africa, a charity based in Ghana, donating sewing machines which will help this charity to facilitate work for mothers in Kumasi.

Moreover, Book-Cycle volunteers met with a number of individuals from the Ministry of Education in Ghana, discussing possibilities for future collaboration.

Dr Yates added: “Without this input from the Wigan community, children in Ghana would be restricted to very few books—primarily dated text-books—and these children would struggle to improve their literacy.”

Book-Cycle has reopened two Wigan libraries as well as the Galleries shop. Volunteers have already helped to set up over 300 African libraries. This year Book-Cycle Wigan sent its first container of 50,000 books there.