By Yaro Imam
For nearly nine months after its opening in the Kumasi Zongo suburb of Aboabo, the Aboabo Community Library resembled a ghost edifice, with its modest collection and furniture gathering dust due to low patronage. The library, built by the government with the help and direction of Honorable Muntaka Mubarak, the area’s MP, was designed to accommodate 300 people, but as of December 2016, the facility was yet to record its 20th visitor. Yes, two, zero! It was at that time that Nolbed reached out to the Asawase MP for the opportunity to rectify this challenge.
NOLBED, acronym for No One Left Behind was established by a group of Zongo professionals across the globe. Their main objective is to uplift underprivileged communities, and they chose to start from Kumasi Zongo, where most of them come from. This public service impetus explains Nolbed’s mission, which is to uplift underprivileged Ghanaian inner city communities by “bridging the gap between their exceptionally-talented students and a quality education across the globe.” Their program gives its Ambassadors the opportunity to attend top-tier colleges around the world on full scholarship through a rigorous pre-college training program.
As part of the year-long pre-college and leadership program Nolbed’s Ambassadors undertake in Kumasi, each class is tasked with solving a critical community problem. So, when news about the poor patronage at the Aboabo Community Library got to Nolbed, the organization didn’t waste any time in volunteering its services to the community.
On February 7th, Nolbed Ambassadors kicked off the implementation process with a goal of increasing the library’s patronage from a paltry 6.7% to at least 50% by May 2017. They started with both social media campaign and conducted speaking engagements at neighboring primary schools. The library’s Facebook page they created has now generated more than 2,200 followers. “This is a win-win for both parties,” said Mr. Salia Daud, Nolbed’s President, in a phone interview from his office in New York. “It is an opportunity to boost traffic to the library and an opportunity for our Ambassadors to get their hands dirty in fields of community work and leadership.”
Above the effort to increase the library’s patronage, Nolbed Ambassadors are offering homework help and tutorials in various academic subjects from Monday through Friday, between 7pm to 9pm. And just less than two weeks of implementation, utilization of the library is now above 20%. “This is Giving Back at its best. And with the right guidance and partnerships between government and non-governmental organizations on initiatives such as this, our own youth could rescue our communities,” added Mr. Daud.
The Ambassadors’ new challenge is to help stock the library with books and other relevant resources. They have started brainstorming on organizing a book drive and would need all the help they can get. Let’s see how that pans out.