Think about it because I’m thinking of making this the first in a series interviews of Antiguans and Barbudans doing good things, and I’m thinking maybe that’s the kind of thing with which local businesses hoping to reach a wider audience (or outside businesses looking to reach a local audience) might want to be associated. So, if you’re interested, Contact me. And if you know of an Antiguan and Barbudan doing good things, Contact me too. ‘Thinking about’ could become doing with sufficient interest. ETA: To clarify, this is an invitation to recommend Antiguans and Barbudans doing voluntary, community-impactful work to be featured; AND, separately, if you’re a business, to buy an ad to be featured on this blog on the page spotlighting one of these interviews. So advertisers and interview subjects, that’s what I’m looking for. As a freelancer, having honed interview and writing skills over the years writing for different publications, I thought I could turn some of that energy and experience to my own site where I have the editorial control that allows me to spotlight the kind of human-interest, community-impactful narratives I like to write about (and which I think are often overlooked for the ‘sexier’ people doing bad things stories). The ads are, well, ads, i.e. commercial space that I’m selling to partially monetize what’s primarily a promotional blog and, obviously, pay for my time.
Now, on with the interview (more pictures to be added, when I get them).
Meet Ayanna Shadrach, a secondary school teacher whose successful book drive netted hundreds of books for the Antigua and Barbuda prison (referred to more casually as 1735).
Hi Ayanna, and welcome to the Jhohadli blog. Give me a bit of background on your self… profession, community activism prior to this…anything you’re comfortable with…who is Ayanna?
Ayanna: From the lovely and Historic village of Pigotts; Anglican; Entered the teaching profession in October 1997, was Attached to the Greenbay Primary Jr Secondary School;Taught the lower school for many years and was then placed to teach Integrated Science in the Jr Secondary department; Due to the introduction of universal secondary education, (I) was placed at the Clare hall Secondary school [CHSS] as a Teacher Librarian. I am also a member of the Special Needs assessment Team with the ministry of education. I love writing and enjoy reading; won the UNESCO World Poetry Day competition while attending the Teacher Training College. (I) have one daughter …6 years old; (I am the) teacher in charge of Young Leaders at CHSS – we won with our project “The Tap is Back!” – encouraging people (to use) filtered tap water as opposed to buying water. We donated water catchments to needy persons around the school area to encourage and promote the harvesting of rain water.
I love my country!
Why did you decide to do this?
Ayanna: I was invited by Mrs Henry ( a prison officer) to take a look at the library at the prison and to speak to some inmates. The female inmates expressed that they there is nothing interesting to read in the Prison Library, mostly text books. During one of my second form classes, the prison came up in a discussion and I shared my experience with the class. I then put the idea to the class and they thought it was interesting and that I should do it. The students brought me about 15 novels the next day and that was the start of the project.
What’s the response been like?
Ayanna: Very positive response! When I approached my principal, Mrs Jonah Greene, she agreed that it was a good gesture and gave me her support. Shortly after, during a staff meeting, she informed the staff of the project and encouraged them to support, and they did. I had a flyer designed and I advertised via facebook. Got positive feedback.
Why do you think that is?
Ayanna: Most persons found the project to be interesting and needed. Some have family members that are inmates and they share the same complaint. Others just have books that they have read and saw this as a way to get rid of them instead of throwing them out.
What have been the challenges/disappointments?
1. The prison library has limited space so eventhough a lot of persons were interested in donating I gave them a limit to donate.
2. I wanted (people) to donate both novels and magazines but I got mostly novels
What have been the successes/triumphs on this journey?
Ayanna: Positive response from Principal, staff, students, and some parents of the Clare Hall Secondary School and the general public. People actually thought that the inmates just stayed in their cells. The fact that there is a library surprised them and they were happy to donate to the cause.
How many books have you collected over all?
Ayanna: To date over 500 books.
Ayanna had just about completed the drive when she came by to collect my books – mine and contributions I’d collected from Pam Arthurton, brand new leftovers from the now defunct Antigua and Barbuda international Literary Festival.
Why, in your view, is it important to do good where and when you can?
Ayanna: To be a good human being you need to have integrity and that means whatever you say you stand by. You must exhibit good character, be honest, open, caring and a good citizen to (live) in harmony with everyone.
Happy to have supported this book drive; and to feature it here at the start of my (possible, maybe) series on Antiguans and Barbudans doing good things because good news is news too.
For more things Antiguan and Barbudan, be sure to check out the pages dedicated to my home country. And to reference Kai Davis TEDx talk, remember to do good, do good, do good wherever you are.