One year on …
A year ago, nobody would have believed how much would happen. But we dreamed and the dreams came true. Here is a short outline of what has been achieved. From June 2012 to June 2013.
Red Hill informal settlement
When CBN was looking for a place to hold a pilot workshop, we were invited to meet members of the Red Hill community and representatives from Rotary Cape of Good Hope. The subsequent workshop with high school students cemented relationships with both the Red Hill Community Library and with the Rotarians who have supported us far beyond the initial project. We hope to be associated with them all for a long time to come.
A full report can be found under the Resources tab. This was a wonderful start for CBN and gave us a chance to test ideas formulated over years of workshops given all over South Africa
We had a high attendance at the first workshop and word spread. We reckon we had about 300 children at the second, wanting stories, wanting books … wanting to come in. This time the age group was primary school children and the workshop was in association with Swedish supporters from Skellefteå County in northern Sweden with funding from SIDA and Swedish Arts and Culture. See also under Resources.
Red Hill Library
Events have been delayed by the logistics of moving containers and what happens in them, but we are nearly ready to hold three small workshops – Books and Art, Books and Music and books and Drama. These will prepare for the grand opening of the new container library and be the start of a new era for reading in Red Hill. CBN is proud to adopt red Hill Library as a permanent project and to be associated with this community.
Our Swedish colleagues yearned for younger children so we organised a workshop at Luthando Crèche in Kayamundi Township outside Stellenbosch. All concerned were deeply impressed by the children, their teachers and carers and the positive reading culture. (The children also enjoyed Swedish singing games!)
Members of the University of Cape Town choir volunteered (or were volunteered?) to sing with children in Clanwilliam during a Saturday morning workshop that focused on story and the San heritage of the region. They sang contemporary music based on recorded San memories of a place not far from Clanwilliam. Our Spanish storyteller friends Helena Cuesta and Jose de Prada told stories from the Bleek and Lloyd archive of those stories and we finished with a modern story, a picture book written by Lesley Beake and inspired by the first sentence of a Bleek and Lloyd story.
A research meeting between Rose-Marie Lindfors and Anna Halgren (Sweden) and Lesley Beake provided so much impetus that CBN found itself launched into action while we were still busy having the idea.
In October 2012 five determined representatives of reading arrived from Skellefteå, armed with toys, books, stories and boundless enthusiasm. Read about it in Red Hill 2 under Resources.
In March / April of 2013, Sindiwe Magona and Lesley Beake travelled to snowy Sweden to exchange ideas and be inspired by Swedish library work. In a whirlwind two weeks they visited a blur of schools and libraries, participated in the Umea Literary Festival and spoke to around 3 000 people (including hundreds of children) about the importance of books and reading. There are so many ideas that CBN in South Africa and Sweden can use, share and work on together. We look forward to this partnership continuing.
If you are reading this, then we made it! Generous donations from three different sources, seemingly endless discussion on design and information technology – and a great deal of input from Technical Editor Lyndall Thwaits, Book Editor Jay Heale and Content Manager Lesley Beake, and we were able to launch in June 2013. Text is retrospective so that a full archive of events is captured.
Networking goes on apace. People at parties have been known to hide in cupboards. But the idea of CBN is catching the imagination of so many people and organizations that we are endlessly encouraged onwards. The launch of the website and its satellite Facebook and Twitter facility will spread the word even further.
One of the most important connections CBN has made is with Rotary. What started as a one-off workshop project has developed into a warm friendship and we work closely with Rotary both in the Cape of Good Hope and in Skellefteå in Sweden as well as being in contact with Rotary in other countries. CBN is now a project linked to the Western Cape Rotary Literacy programme.
Previous Chairman of Rotary Cape Of Good Hope, Richard Parsons, has offered constant advice and support and has been instrumental in putting us in touch with other Rotary branches and individuals. He is a member of our board and we consider him a Champion of CBN.
Donors and handling funds
Raising money is notoriously difficult. CBN has been truly fortunate in its friends, who have stepped forward at the critical moment whenever we have needed them. All finances are administered for us by Rotary Cape of Good Hope.
Outreach to other organizations
A series of meetings during the year culminated in a symposium hosted by the Franschhoek Literary Festival and chaired by Bookchat editor and well-known book personality Jay Heale. A full report appears under News / Past events on this site.
We have reached a cordial agreement with Cambridge University Press over translations of their excellent reading series Rainbow Readers. This project has got off to a good start with funding promised from Rotary Skellefteå and Sindiwe Magona having already completed eight translations into isiXhosa.
Books on the website
Our Book Editor, Jay Heale, has proposed a ‘six of the best’ system where he and guest book editors will choose some of their favourite books by topic, age group and theme. These will include guest book editors from abroad who will introduce the best of overseas titles.
CBN has facilitated, and will continue to facilitate, donations of books to communities. We will also raise funds on an ongoing basis for donations of core books to the communities where we offer workshops.
Books out of Africa – Books to Sweden
Our ambition was to donate books to Swedish libraries, particularly libraries where immigrant children – sometimes from Africa – are coping with enormous changes of landscape and culture. We also wanted to show that Africa does not always have its hand out for help. And, OK, we wanted to show off a little. Good – great – books are published in South Africa. This project, energised by Lesley Beake, organised by Jay Heale and transported by Sindiwe Magona (who normally travels light) was fully supported by nearly all South African publishers. We delivered 85 books to library management and other important people at a dinner in Umea, Skellefteå. The balance of 65 titles will be on its way soon. All 150 books will be part of an exhibition already touring libraries in northern Sweden. It was received with warm appreciation – and some astonishment.
More will follow! Watch us in Year Two …