Book club aims to boost children’s literacy

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

Budding actors, storytellers and poets kept guests on the edge of their seats as they performed their educational and hilarious stories, on Saturday September 3, during a fundraising event hosted by KwaFaku Vulindlela Reading Club (KVRC), in Lower Crossroads.

Held at the Beautiful Gate, the event was aimed at raising funds for the the club’s end of year function.

Started five years ago, the club works with children from the age of seven to 15 years. Their main objective is to educate children about the importance of reading books and visiting libraries regularly.

Talking to Vukani, co-founder of the club Malusi Ntoyapi, said they create an alternative space for the children to learn how to master languages. He said they don’t regard themselves as teachers but as mentors who simply provide guidance. The children are encouraged to pen their own stories and narrate them with little guidance from their mentors.

Currently the club has about 60 children and operates only on Saturdays.

Apart from trying to improve children’s literacy levels, he said, they also wanted to teach them to be critical thinkers and encourage them to be a positive influence in the community.

He believes that education is the only tool that can change the lives of black children and rescue them from the grinding poverty levels experienced by many of them.

“We want to shape the lives of black children. It is our duty as young people to uplift our communities and we should not do things because we want to make money. The fundraising event is for our end of the year event. We are hoping to take our club members to a camp,” he said, adding that a lack of funding and not having their own venue to host the reading sessions remain their main challenges.

However, he said, he was grateful to the local church which had offered to share their space with them.

He added that they were also looking for more volunteers and he called on local business people and the community at large to donate whatever they could.

Resident Mhimhi Skota, 63, applauded the initiative, saying it played a critical role in keeping the children occupied and helped expand their knowledge. She said an idle mind was the devil’s playground.

Ms Skota said in winter she would cook soup for the children because she knew that some children attended the reading club session on empty stomachs.

“I have allocated a room in my house for the club to keep their books because they don’t have their own place,” she said.

Storyteller and author Philippa Kabali Kagwa said she had donated about 10 books to the club and she was writing a children’s book which she promised to donate to the club once it had been published.

“We need to invest in the future of our children. These children are our future leaders and we need to inculcate a culture of reading among our children,” she said.

She urged the community to support the endeavours of the club and called on other communities to start similar initiatives.