All that we are able to achieve at FLP is as a result of the phenomenal Team that I am privileged to be surrounded by, as well as the funders that passionately support Family Literacy in Southern Africa. I would like to begin by congratulating the FLP Team for their resilience, focus, commitment to developing their communities and selfless way that they make themselves available to all. Many of our staff have been with us from early 2000 and thus bring with them a wealth of experiential knowledge, ensuring that we remain relevant in the communities that we serve.
Below is a list of the highlights:
1. Community Work Programme – Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting: After a protracted set of negotiations and intensive planning, we are very happy to announce that FLP and our CWP partners, the Dhladhla Foundation, will revive the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme in the Ubhuhlubezwe and Ingwe Municipalities. We are confident that this valuable programme, which came to a very untimely end when our previous partners were not reappointed, will continue to provide families in isolated rural communities with opportunities to learn through play, develop a love for reading and develop the confidence to engage their children as their first teachers. Dhladhla is very committed and has appointed a phenomenal team to work with FLP. Thank you must be extended to the Dhladhla Team, LIMA and our Programme Coordinators, Zimbili Dlamini and Florence Molefe, for patiently attending multiple meetings and motivating the value that this programme represents to families. The 75 appointed Home Visitors will, after being trained by FLP, visit 4 homes each, once a week – that represents 300 homes! Many of these homes have 4 -5 children that attend these sessions.
2. Evaluation of the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme: Linda Biersteker recently completed a very intensive evaluation of the FLP Khulisa Abantwana, Home Visiting Programme. Her insightful and experienced research has inspired us to focus more of our attention on some key themes: conducting more home visits – her recommendation is that we visit each family once per week (for this we need to raise additional funds), more reading with adults and children, undertaking research into traditional and local ECD practices and providing more opportunities for families to regularly engage in reading and play activities with children. The full evaluation is available online on the Family Literacy Project website.
3. Uthando Doll Makers Workshop: From 6 to 9 June, a group of Unthando Doll Makers, from Australia, visited FLP in order to visit our Libraries, accompany Home Visitors to homes as well as run a 2 day, doll making workshop for Facilitators, Coordinators, Interns and Community members. Much fun was had by all attendees, with many having returned since, to show us the dolls that they have since made. Phumy and Zimbili, FLP Coordinators, have since conducted workshops at our libraries, where they taught teens how to make dolls for siblings and themselves. As most of the homes we visit have very few toys or none at all, these dolls are a wonderful resource. It is so endearing to watch boys and girls play with the culturally appropriate dolls with such affection and concentration. The dolls never fail to bring a smile to the saddest of faces when they are removed from the Home Visitor’s bags.
4. Underberg Himeville Arts Festival – (30 September to 2 October): During the Festival period, we will use 2 of the FLP Libraries as venues for local poets, authors and artists to run workshops and intimate readings and talks, “Conversations that matter…” where we hope to inspire and develop poets and authors in the rural areas where we work. The hub of the festival will be the Himeville Museum, where workshops and discussions will be taking place on Saturday. The Saturday night will see 2 theatre productions, Thola Antamu’s “Saartjie Baartman” and a work by Menzi Mkhwane. Thus far we have confirmations from Uthando Books – they plan to send 2 Authors to go out to the FLP Libraries, Zuki Vutela ( Zookey Zarling), Niq Mhlongo- novelist and short story writer, Malaika wa Azania- writer,Advocate Mkhasibe, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Ike Mboneni Muila, Frank Meintjies, Kwazi Ngklangisa, Nati Ferreira- writer ( English / Afrikaans ), Gary Cummiskey- poet and independent publisher, Thola Antamu- drama. To be confirmed- Nakanjani Sibiya- isiZulu writer; Menzi Mkhwane- drama; Sazi Dlamini, 2 Lesotho poets and Local Authors from Underberg. FLP is excited to be a key part of the inaugural “Arts Festival” as it will bring published authors to our libraries to meet directly with their readers and encourage them in their literary endeavours. We are aspiring to make this an annual event where we will afford FLP members a platform to showcase their skills
5. International visit from Zoe Sylvester, Head of York House UK: Zoe Sylvester, visited FLP in July and August in order to provide training and explore avenues for future partnering. Zoe brought suitcases of the most beautiful books for our Home Visitors and has indicated that she will continue to collect educational toys and books for FLP. We are excited about twinning with York House and the opportunities that this will present for the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme as well as Toy Libraries that we are developing in all of our sites.
6. FLP Training DVD Series: Donovan Fletcher and a group of aspirant Film Makers from Clifton Film School, Clifton College, were commissioned to develop a series of training DVD’s for FLP. Filming and editing has already begun for the first episode in the series, where the Family Literacy Project’s work is introduced. Women’s Day saw FLP working on translations for the subtitles as well as editing the footage. I am amazed at the beautiful images that these young men have captured for us. We are confident that this project will produce footage that will benefit us and our partners greatly. (The FLP Home Visiting DVD’s we currently have, are used regularly by other NGO’s in order to train Home Visitors.)
7. Family Literacy Project Community Library’s Holiday Programme: Many children attended our library’s special programme during the holidays in order to join in the many fun reading and craft activities.
Lotheni Library: Many children attended the holiday programme at the library and even some parents came along with their children. There was a doll making workshop which was done with the teenagers in the community. Parents were very happy about that as they said their children can`t use a needle so they are happy that they began to learn sewing skills. 96 children attended the holiday programme and 92 books were borrowed in that week.
Stepmore library: There were 131 children visited the library during the holiday Programme. Teenagers came for doll making which they all said was a good skill for them to learn. They enjoyed what they did and continue to come to finish their dolls. 101 books have been borrowed during this month.
Ndodeni library: This is a centre for children as they don’t have another place to visit in the area, so children spend most of their time in the library. It was so wonderful to see 102 children in the library during the holiday programme, they did different activities with the library assistants and Coordinators. The teenagers making dolls was inspirational to see. Many of them wanted to remain even after the light had faded. (There is no electrification in the areas of Ndodeni and Mpumlwane.)
Mpumlwane Library: Having newspapers and magazines in the library encourages adults to visit the library more often. Some community members come twice a week to read the newspapers and they always bring their children with them to the library. While they read the newspapers, children play with educational toys, get read to, and read themselves. During the Holiday Programme, we had 126 children in the library and 64 books were borrowed.
8. The new FLP Kwabhidla Community Library: The Ingonyama have assured us that they will extend the lease on the property that they have so kindly given to FLP. We are extremely grateful to the Daitz Foundation and Project Build for their continued support in this initiative. We remain optimistic that the construction of FLP’s newest Community Library will begin in 2016.