The power of a book

Categories: April 2017,Blog

Belinda Smal is certainly writing the next chapter in children’s lives. What started out as a CSI project five years ago has become a lifestyle and a part of Belinda’s life.

“In the first three years, I did all sorts of activities with the children each week. In one of our sessions I was teaching the kids how to make an advertisement or invitation. In the process I picked up that the children battled to read and write. I then thought that reading books should improve their reading and writing skills”, say Belinda. That was the start of Belinda’s library at the campus two years ago.

Thando (not his real name) from one of the boys’ houses has really improved and has somewhat developed into one of Belinda’s star readers. He is a 15 year old, grade 10 pupil at Langlaagte Technical High School.  His housemother, Elize Henn, is proud and very happy to see Thando excited about books. Once every two weeks, Thando and the other children from the campus visit the library and get to experience a different world. “Reading calms me and allows me to use my imagination. I enjoy the atmosphere of the library. My favourite book series is Goosebumps. I enjoy reading horror and romantic books”, says Thando. His social worker can confirm this statement. “Thando has grown quite a lot and I can say that reading has kept him out of trouble. Books have served as a way for him to release his frustrations”, says Kuphela.

Linda’s reading has improved tremendously, along with Thando’s since they started visiting the library. The other kids may take out one book at a time but Thando and Linda take out two or three. The more they read, the better and faster they read.  This naturally helps them when they have to study for exams. “They keep me on my toes because I’m constantly looking for books for them to read at second hand book stores”, says Belinda.

The first few library visits were a bit overwhelming for Belinda because the kids would storm in and all demand attention. Now, they walk in, in an orderly fashion and are patient and allow her to give them each individual attention. “I think I have taught them to have respect, not only for me, but for each other as well”, says Belinda. “It was a challenge to get them to read the books at first, because I realised they did not go home and read the books they had taken out. I then started questioning them about the books and now they anticipate our reviews”, continues Belinda.

“Over the years, I have grown very fond of these children and many a times, I have gone home with tears in my eyes. The best part about working with the children is that they care. When I, for some reason, cannot open the library, they always ask where I was. If I tell them I was sick, they hug me and tell me that they are glad that I am better and they missed me”, smiles Belinda.

The work Belinda and her friends do for our children is immense and very much needed. Both staff and children at Abraham Kriel Childcare, appreciate all they do and wish God’s blessings on their selfless work.