We are blessed with the opportunity to work and interact with such incredible people, but most of our followers don’t actually get to see them, who they are, or what they do. That’s why we’re launching a new series of blogs called “Untold Profiles”, where we’ll highlight and interview people involved with our project to build a language arts center and library in rural Ghana. They may be board members, partners, or just people whose lives have somehow been impacted by what we’re doing.
For our first Untold Profile, I interviewed Mary Akayini, a bright, kind, and ambitious young woman who will be a librarian at Kasadwini Atenaeɛ when it opens. Enjoy!
Mary, thanks so much for making the time to talk to me. Now, you aren’t actually from Asisiriwa, right? Could you tell me where you’re from and how you ended up where you are?
You’re welcome, Brady. Well, actually, my parents came all the way from the North to search for greener pastures down here South. So I was actually born here – I was born in Nkowinkwanta [a nearby village].
You’re studying right now, right? What are you studying, and how close are you to finishing?
Well, right now I’m studying a diploma in basic education, and I have two months more left to complete…yeah, two months: September.
I know that your family suffered a tragedy last year. Would you feel comfortable telling the story of what happened and how you managed to get through it?
Hm, well, last year was a very painful year, full of problems here and there. Early last year, I think…June, yeah, I lost…we lost…the last-born of our family. He was only three years old, and it was very painful, and it was a very shocking news to the family. Later, November, we lost another one – a brother – our eldest brother, he also died. So it was another big tragedy to the family. But, with the help of family members, relatives, friends, you and Kaitlyn, we were able to come out of it. Actually, I had to pay school fees – no money – so you and Kaitlyn helped out with what you could, and other family member helped out too. My other brothers also had to pay school fees – it was terrible – but God and friends helped us out. We were able to overcome it thanks to God and to our friends and relatives.
Wow, what a terrible year. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but thank you for sharing that with me, and thank you for your courage in getting through that. To switch gears a little bit, you said you’re studying basic education. What would you say your dream job is?
You’re welcome, Brady. Thanks for your help. Without you, it wouldn’t have been okay. Thank you very much. My dream job is teaching – I love to teach and I’m going to be a teacher.
That’s fantastic. And is there a particular reason you want to be a teacher?
Mm, actually there’s no reason. I just love to teach. Since I was a kid, my dream was to be a teacher. And I’ve always prayed and hoped one day I become the best teacher ever.
So how did you get involved with Untold International and the language arts center called Kasadwini Atenaeɛ?
I got involved through a friend and a teacher called Quist. Yes, he introduced me to Untold International.
And so what is your role in Kasadwini Atenaeɛ?
A librarian. Yeah, I’m a librarian at Kasadwini Atenaeɛ!
Why did you want to be a librarian in the center?
Well, because I love to teach, it has been one of my aspirations to help the younger ones in our community to learn how to read, ‘cause there’s much joy in reading, so when I had this opportunity, it was like a dream come true. I’ll love to help the kids around – especially those in our community who don’t like to read. I’ll love to help them learn how to read – to love reading.
What do you think of the design of the building?
Well, the design of the building is very beautiful, and it’s nice, and it’s really going to help where it’s situated, how it’s been designed, where we’ll be having the literacy class and then where we’ll be having our readings. It’s okay, it’s very beautiful, and I love it – I love how it’s been designed, the paintings – wow – it’s very nice.
Do you think people in Asisiriwa are excited for Kasadwini Atenaeɛ to open?
They are very excited, especially the elders in the community, ‘cause they know it’s going to help the younger ones growing up. They are very happy it’s going to be opened, and even they are still wondering why it’s not open yet. And I think a lot of questions are coming, “When are you going to open the literacy center?” and stuff. Yes, they are very happy, ‘cause it’s really going to help the community. And not only the community, but it’s going to help all of the people around.
What effects do you think Kasadwini Atenaeɛ will have on Asisiriwa and the surrounding villages?
I think it’s going to have a positive effect on the community and the other villages around. Yeah, ‘cause, you know, in our community here, kids don’t like reading – they don’t love to read – and it’s really affecting them badly. But with Kasadwini Atenae, it’s going to help them learn how to read and love to read. So it’s going to enhance the community’s way of living, it’s going to help them love reading, and it’s going to help them improve their vocabulary and their English language. So it’s going to have a positive effect on the community.
I know that some people in Asisiriwa definitely see the value in education, while others don’t seem to. Do you think it will be difficult to get people in Asisiriwa to use Kasadwini Atenaeɛ?
Yeah, it wouldn’t be difficult to get people to use the center. You know, some of them understand the value in education, so with those people – with the help of those people and we the librarians – it’s going to be easy. When those who value education allow their kids to go there and they start to enjoy – they start to read, they start to express themselves with the English language – It will invite those who don’t value education. It wouldn’t matter much with the parents; the kids themselves will come. Depending on how we the librarians treat them and how we teach them and how we do things with them. It shouldn’t be that difficult.
Do you have any ideas for events you want to put on in the library?
Yeah, actually, events that will encourage the kids to come around. Drumming and dancing at some times, like a culture group – we’ll create a culture group and we’ll be drumming and dancing on some particular days fixed up. And once in a while we’ll have a reading competition – the fastest reader, the best reader – and at least we’ll give them some small-small gifts like a book or something. It will encourage them to learn how to read and encourage the others who are not taking part to take part. Also, things that will also bring the kids: food. Let’s say gari and sugar [like porridge made of ground cassava], so when they close – you know, in this community, it’s not easy for some people, so when they close from school there’s not even food at home for them to eat. So if you have something like gari at the center, when they close, it will bring them, ‘cause they know, “If I go to the library, I’ll get something to eat then learn and enjoy myself too”. So yeah, culture group, a little competition at some times will help.
Is there anything else you’d like our supporters to know?
Well, I would want them to know that their donations and support, it’s not going to be in vain. It’s going to help build up a community that was once illiterate about reading and education, but with their help and support it’s going build them up. And it’s going to help a young lady like me to bring out my best and to achieve my aspirations. Yes, it’s going to help a small community, like Asisiriwa, to bring out the best kids who are capable of doing a lot of things.
After our interview, Mary messaged me with another suggestion for getting the community involved with Kasadwini Atenaeɛ. She would like to meet with the headmasters at both the primary and junior high schools in Asisiriwa to fix “library time” into the class schedules, so that classes will rotate through the library during school hours as part of their daily lessons.
If you would like to sponsor Mary or help her implement any of her ideas, you can go here to make a tax-deductible donation that will open up new possibilities for her and the people of Asisiriwa.