A 26-year-old woman from Daveyton, Sthembile Mathabela, started a book club with the hope of inspiring kids to read and learn more. Her main objective was to remove children from the streets.
The book club also serves as a safe haven for children and it offers emotional stability to them.
Uthingo Lwenkosazana Rainbow is an initiative that started in September 2020 when Mathabela realised that children had a lot of time on their hands and she therefore saw an opportunity to step in and play a pivotal role by opening a book club. “I grew up a troubled child. As I got older, the more I realised that most of our challenges in adulthood are affected by our upbringing so we’d rather tackle some of these issues now to avoid depression or even mental health issues in the future. As a mother, I saw that children’s lives where at stake during the pandemic. I had to do something I love effortlessly, which is reading,” added Mathabela. She adds to say that when she started the initiative it was only eighteen kids, however the numbers change from time to time but she sees progress. She also mentions the challenges she has faced thus far, such as older kids in higher grades not being able to read or write content that they should be able to read or write at their current age and grade. However, she is determined to change the game.
The initiative does activities like spelling tests and entrepreneurship programmes where the kids are taught the importance of independence and having multiple streams of income and at times they go to gyms and exercise. In addition, Sthembile mentions that she recently partnered with Bacha Ba Dichaba Explorers to do more spelling bee trainings and reading clubs. “Currently, there are no funders or sponsors so everything comes from my pocket and a few people who help out. We’d someday like to have a safe and convenient place to operate in, with books and learning equipment.
We would also appreciate it if social workers came on board and provided a feeding scheme for the kids. Although this project hasn’t been registered yet, we are looking forward to doing things legally and registering it. I have big dreams for this initiative and I hope someday it will lure retired professionals who are passionate about teaching, because we need teachers for Saturday classes, they will only work for a few hours by teaching kids on that particular day,” uttered Sthembile.
Kids willing to join should be between the ages of 8-15 and have their parents’ consent.
By Palesa Ndinisa