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The Northumbrian Chirapatre Appeal

The Northumbrian magazine launched the Chirapatre Appeal in 1997 to raise funds to provide better educational facilities for children living in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city.

At that time the only books available to teach the 1,300 children aged between 5 and 15 years attending the Primary and Junior Secondary schools at Chirapatre were stored in six small metal boxes.

Fundraising began to build a library on the site and the Lady Leech Third World Fund donated £5,000 to the project. Students from Newcastle University helped with early construction work and  the Lady Leech Library was opened in December 1998.   Initially 12,000 books collected from schools and individuals in the North East were shipped out to Kumasi. The library proved so popular that queues of children formed every morning before its doors opened and pupils packed the reading room on weekdays and weekends.

The library was supplied with further books and computers and was soon being regularly used by more than 10,000 children and teachers from 60 schools in the region.

To cope with this demand, it was decided that a major extension should be built to create a large reading room and a computer training centre. A further donation of £10,000 was made by The Lady Leech Third World Fund towards building costs and the provision of a broadband internet link.

When this extension was opened in autumn 2006, the facility was described by the country’s national press as “ the best school library in Ghana.”

A large number of young people whose education was assisted by the library are now attending university.   To date the library has been provided with more than 51,000 books and 53 computers.

Currently construction work is underway to provide four new Kindergarten classrooms at Chirapatre and this project has been partly funded by a donation of £7,500 from The Lady Leech Third World Fund.

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