On the eve of International Literacy Day, Friday, 7 September, the excited children of BabbelBekkies Educare Centre received a six-metre container reading room.
There is not a single library in this informal settlement, let alone one that allows for parents to actively participate in their children’s reading. This reading room is a first, and will hopefully support literacy events that will help to bring people together as part of a community.
Ms Arisca Johannes, the principal of BabbelBekkies, spoke of the problems faced by adults who are illiterate, and the challenges they face on a daily basis. She says this is the reason she became involved in the early childhood development space, after spending 10 years teaching adults to read and write. She thanked Breadline Africa and spoke of the importance of International Literacy Day, explaining that it was critical that the reading room be launched at this time, so that issues of literacy could be addressed in the community of Prince Alfred Hamlet.
Ms Naomi Betana, a human rights lawyer and founder of the Witzenberg Rural Development Centre (WRDC), (the organisation that established BabbelBekkies), thanked Breadline Africa for believing in the work that they do at the WRDC. She further encouraged the parents attending the launch to support their children’s literacy by learning from and with Nali’bali. She thanked Breadline Africa for the container and committed to ensuring it is utilised, by not only the ECD, but the community as a whole.
Ms Nyasha Njela explained that Breadline Africa’s supporters – 17 cyclists who cycled 190km in the Cape Town Cycle Tour – were the real heroes of the day. They rode the same distance from Cape Town to Prince Alfred Hamlet in order to raise funds for this Reading Room! She added that BabbelBekkies Educare Centre holds a special place in the Breadline Africa team’s hearts as a former recipient of three containers in September 2015 (funded from the proceeds of the 2014 Night at the Opera–Gala Performance at Cadogan Hall) and because they are going from strength to strength.
Ms Brenda Skippers, the Community Work Programme (CWP) Coordinator for Reading Projects, said that she works closely with Nali’bali, who are regular visitors to the centre. She told the audience that CWP works in the poorest communities and her job is to identify suitable early childhood development centres and help to cultivate a love of reading in the children. She explained that even if a centre has only five books, they make those five books work. She congratulated BabbelBekkies on their new reading room and expressed a wish for many happy hours lost in a book!