Growing up in a village where the were no libraries was a hassle.
Tshabo, in the Eastern Cape is where I grew up. Homework was a struggle because my grandparents were not well-educated, and could not always help me with my school work.
It was only when I moved to Berlin, a small town on the outskirts of King Williams Town, to attend a high school in Mdantsane, that I could finally get access to a community library.
But the library opened at 9am and closed at 4pm. So I was unable to use it because I was on the road or at school during those times. Some days I would leave school after 6pm.
The situation hasn’t changed much since I left
I have since graduated from journalism school, and moved to Joburg to try and find work. But on a recent trip back home, the library issue kept nagging at me. I was sad that, after all these years, young people in my village still did not have a library.
According to The Bookery, an organisation that fundraises for libraries at schools around the country, over 90% of government schools in South Africa do not have functional libraries. “This shortage is most keenly felt in poor communities, where there are few quiet and stable learning environments, and where most homes do not have books.”
My village is one of these communities. After thinking about how I could contribute, I decided to start the #EducationForVillageKids, or #E4VK campaign to collect books for young people in my village and hopefully across the Eastern Cape, in future.
With this project, I hope to open up the first library in Tshabo as a gift to young people in my hometown. I chose my birthday, October 27, as the planned date for the opening, but also used it to encourage people to donate to the project instead of having a party with me.
I hope this will encourage other people in the Eastern Cape to use their own birthdays as a way of giving back to the community. We need to make sure that we contribute towards our education system.
For #E4VK to work, we all need to get involved
I am hoping that the provincial department of education as well as other businesses in the Eastern Cape can get behind this campaign.
The campaign does not stop at books, I also want to be able to visit school and other young people who have no support at home when it comes to doing their homework.
So far my grandmother has donated space in her home for us to build our library. I have set a target of collecting about 400 books ahead of October.
We have had a positive response to the campaign online with people all over Gauteng, Western and Eastern Cape pledging to donate books, and I am hopeful that we will reach our target and create a safe space for young people to go and read or do their homework.
Follow #E4VK for more updates on the campaign or to find out where to donate books.
Picture via Flickr
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