Monday, 1 July 2013
Nal'ibali Reading Club
In the Xhosa language of South Africa, the word Nal'ibali means
"it begins with a story"...
In fact it begins, first of all, with a school: the Get Ahead college in Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape Province, not far from Cradock. This is one of three Get Ahead Project (GAP) schools in the area sponsored by the Leacock Foundation for Children, a not-for-profit organisation started by Peter Oliver, a South African entrepreneur who now lives in Canada. The Foundation's mission is to inspire and empower youth in need, through education and leadership opportunities. A meeting with Nelson Mandela in Toronto some years ago alerted Peter to the educational needs in the Eastern Cape, and the Foundation extended its interest from Canada to rural South Africa. You can find out more about their wonderful work at www.leacockfoundation.org
Queenstown's GAP college now has 400 secondary school pupils, and is a beacon of hope in the area for many children.
In order to foster a culture of reading at the school, an inspirational Canadian teacher, on assignment there for 6 months, decided to start a reading club. Thus was Nal'ibali born in May of this year. But it required sponsorship to buy the books that the students were to read. For many, this would be their first experience of reading a full length book. In stepped the Scarborough East York Reading Association in Toronto. They generously donated $1000 Canadian to launch the club and acquire its first books. But the story goes further: Branksome Hall, an independent girls school in Toronto, has been a strong supporter of the GAP schools for the past ten years, not only by raising funds but also by developing close ties between the schools and their students. Most recently, Branksome Hall embarked on an initiative to introduce students to the latest technology, by raising funds to donate 40 new KOBO e-readers to the school. It will be extraordinary to see the effect that these new projects have on the students.
And to my delight and honour, the first book chosen for the Nal'bali Book Club to read was The Housemaid's Daughter. Here is a picture of Manve and Chumile enjoying their copies. From small beginnings...