Young Ivoirian Woman Gives Back with a Library for her Town

Korotoumou Katy Ballo was born and raised in Côte d’Ivoire, a country in West Africa, until 8 years ago when she moved to New York City. She recently graduated from Skidmore College with a Bachelor’s degree in Management & Business and Minor in International Affairs. She is currently a Financial Services Consultant Staff at Ernst & Young (EY) and passionate about rebuilding her community through access to educational resources such as libraries and hopes to build a school in the future.

The Ivoirian civil war shaped her life and heavily influenced her values, as it ignited a series of social, economic and education issues that led to her seeing her friends’ dreams and aspirations face from having a career to becoming housewives, child laborers and child soldiers. The civil war heavily impacted Anyama, the town she grew up in, leaving Katy with a desire to become an agent of change in her community by building a library that emphasizes community collaboration.

As one of the winners of the Davis Project for Peace, which is a grant to support grassroots projects or ideas related to peace building in their community, Katy received $10,000 to implement her library project. Katy proposed creating a library at Collège Saint Michel d’Anyama (CSM), her former high school, which supports over 2,000 students of diverse backgrounds. A number of partners, including Books For Africa and ADIFLOR, supported Katy in creating a library with 3,000 books and 15 computers (the computers were from Skidmore College IT Department).

Now the library is a place for students to access books and improve literacy and technology skills, with both local and international resources. On August 16th, the library officially opened its doors to students of CSM. The opening ceremony reflected the diversity of the town, with multiple people of differing ethnic backgrounds collaborating. Local and national TV news and radio stations were also in attendance. The number of students who were able to visit the library and utilize its resources was overwhelming, and as Katy put it, “This library will inspire future generations of students and contribute both to their educational and personal development.”

She added, “It is a privilege to be a part of the youth that are fighting for the development of Anyama. The success of this library is highly fundamental as it will be used as a model to establish to receive funding and to create more libraries across different schools in the community.”

Check out photos from the project in our Flickr album below!

A Library for College St Michel in Anyama, Cote d'Ivoire