Watch moment donated books from Michigan arrive in Nigeria to be housed in orphanage

A journey that started in July was finally completed

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series this week where we are looking back at prominent human interest stories that we published in 2023.

Back in September, we did an article talking about how thousands of books that were discovered in a storage room at an old high school were being transported to Nigeria.

The books — which were found in a storage room near an empty gymnasium St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish in Dearborn, Michigan — were going to be donated for an orphanage that is going to be built in Nigeria.

On Oct. 22, the books arrived in Nigeria, much to the delight of people in the community of Ogoni.

The reaction to the books arriving can be seen in the video above.

The books were discovered as the parish was set to demolish old school buildings that were around for more than a century.

St. Alphonsus (WDIV Local 4)

The first school was established in 1846 by farmers who first settled in the area. In 1922, a new building was constructed to house the grade school and high school, with the first graduating class being in 1926. A new grade school building was constructed in 1953, an activities center in 1955, and additional classrooms and a library in 1966.

The buildings housed grade and high schools until the high school closed in 2003 and the grade school closed in 2005.

The buildings were then leased to a charter school until 2007, but were vacant after that, essentially ending more than 160 years educating students in those buildings.

The library that was housed to a side of the high school building was initially found to be empty, so parishioners assumed the charter school removed the books.

A short time later, the storage room with the books was discovered.

Courtesy photo. (St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish)

Local schools and organizations were initially contacted about taking the books, but the parish got no interest.

Then, a priest from the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit who helps the church with Sunday masses suggested to get in touch with Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah, a priest from the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.

Fr. Kote-Witah is from Nigeria and is in the process of trying to build an orphanage and library for underprivileged kids in his homeland.

When Fr. Kote-Witah got word of all the books, he agreed to take them all and name the library at the orphanage the “St. Alphonsus Library” in honor of the donation.

On July 28, a truck was rented and volunteers packed it with boxes of books to be taken to Chicago. The only problem was that only half of the boxes fit in the truck, so a second truck had to be rented on Aug. 13 to take the rest of the books to Chicago.

Courtesy photo. (St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish)

But they finally arrived, and now the books have new life and can impact more lives after sitting in storage for so long.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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