A local group with the goal of constructing a public library near Monrovia, the capital city of the West African country of Liberia, got one step closer with a recent visit to the future building site.
Veleta Jenkins, a former educator, is the founder and CEO of Library for Africa, which she co-founded with her former student, Darius Ricks, with the goal of constructing a public library in Liberia. Jenkins recently visited Monrovia with a small delegation from the Dayton area as part of a goodwill trip to connect with locals and visit the future location of the library.
Seeing the need for literacy in the area for herself “ignited a fire” in Jenkins that was hotter than she had before the trip, Jenkins told the Dayton Daily News.
“Since I saw for my own eyes the need upfront and close, the poverty, the desperation for educational opportunities and literacy awareness and for a public library, I know what needs to be done,” Jenkins said. Library for Africa’s current goal is to raise $350,000 for the first phase of the library construction process.
Jenkins was joined by four other local residents supportive of her vision, including Dayton-Monrovia Sister City Chair Thomas Siafa, as this year marks Dayton’s 50th anniversary as the sister city to Monrovia, Liberia. Others on the delegation included Montgomery County Treasurer John McManus, NAACP Education Chair Lauretta Williams, and Central State University staff member Rochelle Williams. In addition to the local residents, the delegation also included Ricks, a Liberian native and resident of Columbus.
“Darius was my inspiration,” said Jenkins. “He was my student. When he told me that there was no public library in his country, he and I sprang into action. Library for Africa wouldn’t be a reality had Darius not spoken up and asked if I would help get a library built.”
“It was a life changing trip,” said McManus. “I was honored to be asked to join the group.”
McManus was invited by Jenkins to join the group on the trip, and he said,” It was a great opportunity to witness the hard work, the life changing work, of two incredible constituents.”
During their recent trip, the Library for Africa delegation visited the five-acre campus on which the library will be built in Bentol City (Montserrado County), located 20 miles from Liberia’s capital Monrovia. The land was donated to Library for Africa from local officials in that area.
The Library for Africa delegation also met with local political and education leaders.
“They know there’s a need for literacy in their country,” Jenkins said. “They know that having a public library would change the trajectory of the lives of many people for generations to come. They are 100% behind us, and they are embracing us, and they’re thanking the Dayton community.”
The group also visited the U.S. Embassy and connected with locals in Liberia, including visiting a local school.
“I’m especially grateful for the help and shared dedication of Bishop John KunKun, one of our outstanding Liberian board members, and the team of passionate Library for Africa staff at our local office in Monrovia,” said Jenkins.
Source: Dayton Daily News