Michael Lapsley Foundation
Who we are
The Michael Lapsley Foundation (MLF) is a registered Non-Governmental Organization or NGO (nonprofit) that was established in March 2004. Our mission is “to improve the quality of life of the underprivileged by addressing their educational and social development needs through the provision of resources, information and training.” We are located in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where a six-member board of directors oversees our Foundation. MLF’s programs are implemented by community volunteers and a six-person staff led by Executive Director Ernest Ankomah Kyeremeh. One of our staff is a librarian.
MLF was named after prominent South African anti-apartheid activist, Father Michael Lapsley. Father Lapsley lost both hands and an eye from a letter bomb and the Foundation was named to honor his contributions to the black Africa community during and after the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The Foundation’s work centers on community and rural library support, humanitarian donations and advocacy and education for the disabled. We have partnered with a variety of U.S. and local organizations to provide computers, clothing, wheelchairs, aids for the disabled and blankets to Ghanaians in need. While proud of our accomplishments, the need for increased educational resources in Ghana is great, especially in the Brong Ahafo and northern rural areas of the country, where books and other resources are still rare.
What daily life is like here
Life is quite different in rural and urban Ghana. ALP’s books will be going to rural areas where many Ghanaians live in circular houses made of mud and wood with floors of beaten gravel. The area is enclosed and called a compound. Extended families are very important and much respect is given to our traditional rulers, elders, and dead ancestors.
Many Ghanaians get out of bed by 5 am to get things done before the afternoon heat and humidity begins. A cold water bath is followed by breakfast of bread, “Kosei” “Mansa” Hausa koko, rice water, Banku, “tuo zaafi” and “Ampesi” (boiled yam with stew) before heading off to school or work.
We love football and you can see Ghanaians, young and old playing with enthusiasm throughout the country. We are passionate about our national football team, the Black Stars. We are famous for our national dress made of beautiful kente cloth, created from colorful strips made of silk on treadle looms and sewn together. This cloth is a visual representation of our history and a form of written language through weaving. We have a strong culture involving special songs, dances and foods we do during weddings, funerals, festivals, and rites of passage like child naming and puberty initiations. Two thirds of Ghanaians are farmers and our number one cash crop is cacao. We are currently among the oil producing countries in the world.
We have many types of dances for different occasions like funerals, celebrations, storytelling, praise and worship. In school, it is popular to sing in a choir and compete with other schools for top honors.
Our children begin school at age six, attend six years of primary school and three years of junior high school. At the end of their third year of junior high, every student must take a Basic Education Certificate Exam (BECE). Those that pass have the opportunity to complete a three year high school program and take an admission exam to enter a university. While there are 47 local languages in Ghana, classroom teaching is done mainly in English, the country’s official language.
Why we work with the African Library Project
Ghanaians are proud of having achieved 40 years of post-independence stability without inter-tribal conflicts. We are making progress in educating our people, but we still have a long way to go, especially in the Northern, Brong Ahafo and rural regions of Ghana where educational resources like books are difficult to come by. Getting an education is the one way that any Ghanaian can improve their own life and the life of their family. We have established schools throughout Ghana, but most of our people do not have an adequate supply of books, making it impossible to learn more than what is presented in schools.
How we work with the African Library Project
We received our first container of books from the African Library Project in 2011. The Michael Lapsley Foundation has a unique model for our work with the African Library Project. We are partnering with Ghanaian Members of Parliament, Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives to sponsor libraries in their district and constituencies. Each MP receives a sum of money from the government to improve their district for the good of the people. Together, the MP’s, local leaders, the Lapsley Foundation and the African Library Project are working together to start small libraries in Ghana.
What we have accomplished with ALP
We have established 174 libraries in villages and rural schools in Brong Ahafo and Northern Ghana who are eager for increased learning opportunities. Each community/school first submitted letters of commitment to us outlining what role they will play in the development of the new library, and they each provided a space they can use for the library, and local leaders willing to serve on a library committee to oversee the library. They use the African Library Project’s manual which gives step-by-step guidance to library committees to get organized and operate a small library.
Our hopes and wishes
We want to give learning opportunities to rural Ghanaians and those living in the rural areas of the country. With education, our lives will be full of new possibilities!
How you can help
Organize a book drive, please! Or donate books to a book drive, or donate money to a book drive or the African Library Project. We need your help!
Our sincere thanks to the people making it happen
We are so very grateful to the people who are organizing book drives to help start libraries in Ghana, to the Members of Parliament supporting library development, to all of our volunteers, to the people donating books and to the African Library Project.
To learn more about the African Library Project
Number of ALP Libraries in Ghana: 289 (June 2016)
Number of readers reached: 300,000