She was chased out of the facility just seconds after entering, to save her dear life.
The door that once served as the gateway to knowledge acquisition now plays host to an unfriendly tenant, a man with a mental impairment who is clearly unwelcoming to trespassers.
But this door did not lead to a psychiatric hospital.
JoyNews’ Seyram Abla De-Souza was chased out of the library by mentally impaired squatter
On her visit during JoyNews’ community-driven programme, My Community, a visibly shaken Seyram Abla De-Souza quickly recommended another way into the old Bono Regional Children’s Library.
The frontage of old Bono Regional Children’s library can be barely seen through the bushes
The library, established decades ago served many schools in the region in its prime until 2005 when a heavy downpour flooded the place. Once abandoned, the deterioration gradually intensified as the roofs were ripped off in a subsequent rainstorm in 2009. The library would never be restored to its past glory.
Abla’s visit uncovered hundreds of destroyed books and the further dilapidation of parts of the structure due to some recalcitrants who have cashed in on the abandoned facility by removing the windows
As they toured the library located in the heart of a recreational park in Sunyani, a native of the region, Kofi Osei, lamented the dilapidating state of the edifice that once served the community.
“Thieves have removed the windows and all the things they need because there is no security here… books and other things have also been taken away” he said.
Washroom of old Bono Regional Children’s Library taken over by weeds
The jungle-like path that led to the facility was as unbearable as the sorry state of the building itself. Weeds, faeces and reptile-habouring bushes were what greeted the news team as they meandered their way through to the building.
A journey that was meant to be an adventure for curious minds had evolved into a daring venture for only the brave-hearted.
Mr Osei, who had been a beneficiary of the facility growing up, could not hold back after seeing how low his childhood learning haven had sunk.
“I am heart-broken. The library where we used to read children’s books like Tintin and others has been abandoned over the years and turned into a jungle,” he said.
“When you shouted, I thought you had even seen a snake or something… The whole place was dark. We couldn’t even see until you told me there was a mentally challenged man in there. He banged the door behind us because he doesn’t even want us to get in there,” Mr Osei said of Abla’s earlier encounter with the squatter in the library.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4.6 states that: “by 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy and Indicator 4.6.1: “proportion of a population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex.”
According to Mr Osei, numerous complaints to authorities to revamp the once vibrant library are yet to yield results.
Former Brong Ahafo Regional Librarian who took the decision to close down the facility described the state of libraries in the region as “generally fair”.
Fredrick Noble Badah told JoyNews that “it becomes a little bit challenging that you have a population that does not have access to the service.”
He, however, admitted that inadequate support from the government has been at the forefront of the Authority’s woes.
“As a public library, funding should come from the State, from our taxes. So when the funding is not forthcoming and the public is yearning for your service, then you see why it is heart-wrenching… sometimes you have to squeeze money out of the rock,” he said.
The former regional librarian revealed that his decision to facilitate the closure of the old Bono Regional Children’s Library was to ensure that the lives of children and staff were not endangered.
“We had to vacate the place to go to the main regional library meant for the adults' and moved the adults to this uncompleted structure,” Mr Badah added.
Fredrick Noble Badah, however, urged guardians to also take a keen interest in improving the reading culture of their wards. Opinion leaders, he said, also had a critical role to play in drawing the attention of government the new regional library which has been under construction since 2003.
Speaking to JoyNews, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Library Authority, Hayford Siaw said government has released funds to complete the construction of the new ultramodern regional library for the Bono Region.
“Government paid the contractor last year to go back to the site to continue the construction because we hope that by the end of this year, we could also open the Sunyani library. The contract was given by the Regional Coordinating Council so they are responsible, together with their consultants, for making sure the work is complete,” Mr Siaw disclosed.
New Bono Regional Library under construction in Sunyani
The CEO also gave the assurance that he was facilitating the process while collaborating with “agencies such as the Ministry of Education and GETFund to make sure that the resources are released when the requests come in.”
“So Sunyani has a big ultramodern library coming up,” as Hayford Siaw tells JoyNews, must sound like news that excites all.
But as Ghana continues to grapple with efforts to increase the literacy rate among the youth, it remains to be seen how much attention will be dedicated towards the completion of this new library complex as the old Bono Regional Children’s Library continues to wallow in its forced extinction back to ground-zero.
Your community-driven development programme, My Community airs every Sunday at 6:30pm on JoyNews on MultiTV, on DSTV channel 421, GOtv channel 144 and on YouTube via Myjoyonline.com.
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