Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something that made me smile

First and most important thank you all for your wonderful messages and good wishes for our anniversary.

I loved every one of them and when the BM got home from a long day at work I showed them all to him too and watched the smile grow on his face as it had done on mine as I received them. He sends his thanks too for your lovely sharing part in our special day.

So today, I have something else that made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. It's a lovely example of the way that this job of writing romance means I can occasionally touch the lives of people half a world away and brighten their day just a little.

I have a friend - Tony - who has recently left his job here in the UK and gone out to work in Ghana - to quote his MySpace blog - he's a 'PR Practitioner from Hull, East Yorkshire, UK who has taken time out to work in Bongo, which is close to Bolgatanga in north east Ghana, as Community & Advocacy Support Officer in Ghana's Ministry of Education. This is a two-year role supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) so I won't be coming back a rich man! Sadly, I've traded in the Jag for a motorbike, something I'd never ridden until being accepted for this placement. So why did I pack in a decent salary and comfortable standard of living to work as a volunteer for two years? Because I can! I've had an enjoyable, varied and interesting working life and I'm now in the position to be able to do this for a couple of years whilst I'm still fit and able.

Of course the great thing about email is that we can still keep in touch with Tonyno matter how far away he is, and a few weeks ago, I got a note from him that said: -

One of my neighbours, Hanana, is a keen reader but with no books. I've been borrowing books from the VSO office which she has enjoyed reading and recently I found three M&B novels which she has really enjoyed. I was wondering/hoping/grovelling if you would be happy to post out a couple of your books to Hanana (signed if possible), via the VSO office. It's good to see younger people here reading and I know Hanana would really appreciate them. She's the one on my blog who runs the local shop where I sometimes work.

Of course I wanted to help so I parcelled up a few books and put them in the mail to Ghana. Then I went and looked up exactly where Ghana is. Bolgantanga where Tony works it right up at the top of the country, furthest from the coast and on the border with Burkina Fasoe. So, knowing this, I was relieved when Tony wrote to me to let me know that the books had arrived and he was taking them to Hanana when he next saw her.
Then this weekend, I had a wonderful email which included these fabulous photos of Hanana in the shop where she works - with my books. Aren't they fantastic?
There was also a message from Hanana in the email -
I was really surprised when I received the books from Kate Walker - and she's even signed them for me! I'm enjoying reading them, we don't have too many romance novels to read up here in the Upper East Region of Ghana so my friends now want to borrow them.
I love the thought of my book bringing her - and her friends - such enjoyment halfway across the world from here!
And hopefully this story won't end here. Because at the opening of the Mills & Boon Centenary Exhibition, I talked to Bethan who's responsible for PR at M&B and told her all about this story. She's taken the idea even further and there are plans for MIlls & Boon to send out some books to
Bolgatanga to supplement the meagre book stocks in the local library. I think this is fabulous and a very practical and generous way of helping people with literacy.
As soon As I hear more, I'll let you know. But for now, I hope Hanana's smile brightens your day as it did mine.
You can read more about Tony's work in Ghana on his My Space Blog


Anonymous said...

Oh Kate, that really is fabulous. I'm smiling here too!



Margaret Mayo said...

What a touching story, Kate. Thanks for sharing.

Anne McAllister said...

Made me smile, too, Kate! Do you suppose she'd like some more books? I've lots -- and I'd be happy to share.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story, thanks for sharing.



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