The History of Books For Africa Library Project
Hilda and Kirt Bromley
The Bromleys: Hilda was born in Kukurantumi, Ghana in 1946. Her parents were farmers but they saw that she received the best education locally available. Hilda was in the first class to graduate from Ofori Panin Secondary School in 1966. In addition to excelling in academics Hilda was introduced to Track and Field and as a freshman became the National Champion in the 880 yard Track event. She continued as national champion during four of her years at Ofori Panin, and her national record in the 880 yard event was unbroken for 20 years. After her marriage to Kirt in 1969 she was trained and worked as a licensed practical nurse for twenty years. She has a lively faith in God and was open to God's direction after an operation to remove a brain tumor in 1996. Hilda and Kirt have two adult children and five grandchildren.
Kirt was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He first went to Ghana in 1967 with the US Peace Corps. While serving there he met and married Hilda. He received B.A. in Religious Studies from Franklin and Marshall College, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Antioch University and a Master of Arts in Ministry from Ursuline College. He taught students in regular education classes for 14 years and students in special education classes for 20 years. He is a member of the International Coordinating Team of Faith and Light, accompanying the provinces of the USA and Canada. (http://singanewsong.50megs.com/faithandlight.htm). Kirt retired from the Akron Public Schools in 2002.
Address: 3531 Humphrey St., St. Louis, MO 63118 USA
or P.O. Box 46, Kukurantumi, E/R, Ghana, West Africa
The Books For Africa Library Project was started in 1997 in Copley, Ohio by Kirt and Hilda Bromley. While Mrs. Bromley was recovering from brain tumor surgery in 1996, she received a call from God; "Go build me a library". Since her faith in God and His goodness and love for her had grown tremendously during her recovery, she responded immediately to God's call. That year with God's help the Bromleys collected 3000 books and the money to ship the books to Ghana. In the spring of 1997 Mrs. Bromley traveled to Ghana to collect the shipment and set up the library in Kukurantumi. However, it soon became apparent that the proposed building to house the books was too run down. The Bromleys donated their savings of $8000 to supervise and to construct a library building with benches, tables, chairs shelves and electricity. A librarian was trained, and the books were catalogued and shelved. The place was opened for use to everyone in town for free.
In 1998 more donated books and also computers were shipped with money raised from individuals, churches, organizations and a multicultural concert. These books were added to the first library. Word began to spread around Ghana and soon people from different towns wanted to have the same project done in their own towns. In order to meet the demands of establishing more libraries in Ghana, the Bromleys formed a Board of Trustees for the library project and founded a nonprofit corporation in March of 1999. This Board devised requirements for the communities in Ghana which desired books and computers. Each town in Ghana desiring books had to provide a building, shelves, benches, tables, chairs, electricity, a step-down transformer for computers and their own librarian. The only exception is that the expenses in the first library in Kukurantumi including the payment of two librarians are paid by Books For Africa.
In 1999 the Board of the Library Project selected three towns in rural areas to be recipients of books and computers. 19,000 books and 20 computers were collected and $10,688 was raised to send the items to Ghana. Again the Bromleys paid their own way and spent 2 months in Ghana working to set up the three libraries in 3 rural towns after cataloguing and numbering the books with the Dewy Decimal system.
In 2000 more requests were received from new communities in Ghana. The Bromleys collected 29,000 books and 29 computers for shipment to Ghana. During summer of year 2000 the Bromleys traveled to Ghana with two volunteers, a mother and son from Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, to work on the library project. With their help four new libraries were set up in rural towns.
In the summer of 2001 Books For Africa collected 29,000 donated books and 15 computers. Money to ship and distribute these items was raised through foundations, churches, organizations, schools, individuals and the Bromley's own contributions. Mr. and Mrs. Bromley traveled to Ghana with a volunteer who is a professional librarian from the Akron Public Schools, and set up two new libraries. In addition forty boxes of medical books were collected from area physicians and donated to the Ghana College of Medicine in Korle-Bu, Accra. A one-day in-service was also given to all the established libraries, now ten in all.
In 2003 ten towns in Ghana requested books for their libraries. Over 65,000 books were shipped to Ghana in November, 2002. The Bromleys took delivery of these books in Ghana in January, 2003. That year they used $24,000 of their own money to construct a warehouse in Ghana. The purpose of the warehouse is to sort, catalog and store the books prior to distribution to the new libraries. In previous years the main library in Kukurantumi was closed all summer because the incoming donations always took all the space.
Kirt retired from the Akron Public School System in December, 2002. With freedom from a nine to five job, and reliance on the teachers pension the Bromleys have been able to devote more time to the Library Project without taking any kind of salary for their work. In the early months of 2003 the Bromleys set up seven libraries. The following towns received between 5,000 and 12,000 books apiece: Sovie, Asokore, Effiduase, Suhum, Dzodze, Akrodie and Buduburam. The latter site is at the refugee camp for those fleeing the war in Liberia. In addition, the following libraries that were stocked in previous years received additional books: Mepe, Abetifi, and Nkwanta.
In the fall of 2003 the Bromleys returned to Ghana with 26,000 more books and set up four new libraries in the early months of 2004. The Bromleys were able to spend five months in Ghana on that trip. The annual in-service was offered to representatives from the existing libraries and the four prospective libraries. The keynote speaker gave an informative address on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ghana. In addition to shipping the books the Bromleys were able to ship several pallets of medical supplies for the medical clinics local to Mrs. Bromley's home town. These supplies were donated by Summit Mission International in Copley, Ohio.
For the work in 2005 the Bromleys shipped 26,000 books to Ghana. In January the Bromleys inspected seven towns and then set up libraries with from 4,000 to 6,000 books apiece. At the annual in-service in January 2005 representatives from 28 towns attended. In addition to a review of best practices for small libraries there were two speakers on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As in the previous year the Bromleys were able to deliver medical supplies from Summit Mission International to local medical clinics.
In February and March, 2006 Books For Africa Library Project set up libraries in five new towns. These were Sefwi Dwinase in the Western Region, Woe in the coastal area of the Volta Region, Teteman-Buem, Mim, and Ta'am Pooram near Bolgatanga. The town of Begoro opened a new library building and Books For Africa Library Project was able to integrate the existing collection of books which we donated in 2000 with an additional 3,000 books. Assisting us in setting up the new libraries were two volunteers from Ohio, Ryan Grube and Katelyn Terrell. They spent three months with us from January to early April helping with the new libraries and the in-service. At the in-service in January, 2006 over 24 towns sent representatives. Twelve of these towns were given funds to purchase prizes for their reading contests and all attendees were given a box of books and toys to be used as prizes as well. The participants were given information on the HIV/AIDS epidemic by a Ghanaian medical doctor and Kirt spoke to them about best library practices.
In October, 2007 The Library Project shipped 36,000 books to Ghana. The Bromleys set up an additional four libraries bringing the total number of libraries to 37. In April, 2007 they met with the Acting Director of The Ghana Library Board, Mr. Omari Tenkorang. The Ghana Library Board is the national library system in Ghana; the Board supports 52 libraries throughout the country. The Bromleys agreed to donate all of the remaining books in the library warehouse, almost 4000 books, to The Ghana Library Board.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of Books For Africa Library Project a special in-service was held in Kukurantumi, Ghana from Thursday to Sunday, January 11-14, 2007. On Friday morning a presentation on the personal and social challenges of HIV/AIDS was given by Matthew 25 House. This group of HIV/AIDS victims travels around Ghana and informs the public of health and social issues regarding the disease. On Saturday morning a Ghanaian non-profit corporation called Attitudes Ghana spoke about the disease of alcoholism and its treatment through Alcoholics Anonymous. Attitides Ghana returned to Kukurantumi two weeks later to give an all day seminar on alcoholism.
During the 10th anniversary in-service special prizes were awarded to the winners of reading contests in 21 of the libraries. Each contest winners stood before the assembly and related how they won the contest and the impact the library has had in their lives.
Books for Africa Library Project opened up three new libraries in 2008, four new libraries in 2009, four new libraries in 2010 and three new libraries in 2011, 2 new libraries in 2013, 5 new libraries in 2014, and three new libraries in 2015.. We also distributed 36,000 books in Liberia in November and December 2008.
A list of libraries and year established follows:
1. Kukurantumi 1997 2. Mepe 1999 3. Shia 1999 4. Kukuom 2000 5. Begoro 2000 6. Atimpoku 2000 7. Atabu 2000 8. Ayiribe 2000 9. Nkwanta 2001 10. Abetifi 2001 11. Sovie 2003 12. Buduburam 2003 13. Suhum 2003 14. Effiduase 2003 15. Asakore 2003 16. Dzodze 2003 17. Akrodie 2004 18. Zabzugu 2004 19. Bosuso 2004 20. Aboasa 2004 21. Adjena-Pesse 2004 22. Yawmatwa 2005 23. Oyoko 2005 24. Bole 2005 25. Mafe Mediage 2005 26. Kpetoe 2005 27. Somanya 2005 28. Amanokrom 2005 29. Mim 2006 30. Woe 2006 31. Teteman 2006 32. Sefwi-Dwinase 2006 33. Ta’am Pooram 2006 34. Asamankese 2007 35. Adjumako 2007 36. New Drobo 2007 37. Donkorkrom 2007 38. Kwasi Kuma Man 2008 39. Saboba 2008 40. Wamanafo 2008 41. Ejura 2009 42. Mumford 2009 43. Tumu 2009 44. Humjibre 2009 45. Ayomso 2010 46. Asarekrom 2010 47. Akotekrom 2010 48. Enchi 2010 49. Gwollu 2011 50. Noberkaw 2011 51. Jirapa 2011 52. Keta 2013 53. Elmina 2013 54. Dowine 2014 55. Abura Dunkwa 2014 56. Agbozome 2014 57. Koludor 2014 58. Suhyen 2014 59. Chirano 2015 60. Assin Nkran 2015 61. Peing 2015 62. Welembelle 2016