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"Stories can go on to inspire children long after our own kids have grown up" - a Q&A with the Executive Manager of The Bookery, Cosmas Mabeya

Nal’ibali column published in the Sunday World (8 April 2018), Daily Dispatch (9 April 2018), Herald (12 April 2018)

By Carla Lever

Cosmas Mabeya, the Executive Manager of The Bookery

 
Cosmas, you’ve got a background in politics and banking. What made you want to work with The Bookery, donating libraries of books to under-resourced schools?

I have a job I love because I met someone in 2010 at the worst of times and he gave me a chance. I have stayed this long because making a small contribution to education takes me back to that moment. Had I not a passable standard of education, that “down moment” would also have been my “out moment.” That’s a chance everybody deserves.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Hope! The task is mammoth and there are many challenges. Yet, the excellence we discover under the most adverse of conditions gives us such wonderful hope. The number of people unified in uplifting citizens in general – and learners in particular – gives me a hope for a better tomorrow for the country and the continent.

You must meet some fantastic people through the Bookery. What projects and people have you been inspired by?

Too many to mention! Teachers doing amazing work with so little. Learners working for a better life through grit. Volunteers and donors giving with passion and generosity. Colleagues in NGOs easily employable elsewhere but toiling away because they believe in a better education for all. There are so many good people doing great things.

What kinds of books do schools most need?

Learners need books that are appropriate and relatable. Second-hand textbooks are often out of date, so we encourage people to donate fiction and non-fiction that’s bright, engaging and preferably published after 2000. It’s the only way to keep students’ reading passion alive!

You say that over 90% of schools in SA don’t have functional libraries, but you’ve already created 55 new ones! What can regular people do to chip away at such a huge problem?

Talk to us! Each one of us can make a contribution, whether it’s through donating books, money or time. Check out our website www.thebookery.org.za or call us on 021 461 4189. Alternatively get plugged into one of the many NGOs doing good works in literacy and education. Everyone can do something, wherever they are in this country.

Your first libraries were set up in 2010 at Thembelihle and Lavendar Hill High Schools in Cape Town. Do you have any idea how those facilities are doing now?

All our schools have either been a great success or sources of learning on how we can do better. We’re still fully involved in the libraries of these two schools and continue to journey with them – their highs and lows are our highs and lows. Importantly, they’ve been a template for us to build on.

What kind of feedback to you get from school teachers…and especially the kids? Is it possible to keep up with the demand?

Fantastic feedback. My colleagues visit each library at least once a term. We train our library assistants, who share their experiences at our monthly cluster meetings. It’s also really important to us to meet principals regularly so that they can share directly how we can serve them better. We like to do that over a lunch, just so that they feel appreciated.

If you could have a word with our new Minister of Higher Education, Naledi Pandor, what would you ask her to change?

It’s above my pay grade to ask her to change anything, but I would ask her to simply visit some of our libraries, talk to our librarian assistants and, most importantly, hear from the kids and teachers.

How can people get involved with the great work The Bookery does?

Never doubt that each and every one of us can make a contribution. You can add us as a Woolworths My Schools beneficiary – that’s a great way to donate. We’d also love your pre-loved books in good condition – stories can go on to inspire children long after our own kids have grown up.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org

My Eerste Woordeboek: Afrikaans, Engels, Noord-Sotho, Zoeloe is ’n moet-hê-boek vir elke gesin se boekrak!


Dit is ’n vrolike, prettige eerste woordeboek vol kleurryke illustrasies. Kinders sal hope pret hê en basiese woordeskat in vier van Suid-Afrika se amptelike tale aanleer terwyl hulle hierdie boek speel-speel verken. Maklike woord-prent-assosiasies word in Afrikaans, Engels, Noord-Sotho en Zoeloe volgens verskillende temas gerangskik.

Van die temas sluit in: klere, kos, tuin, teenoorgesteldes, voëls, diere, skool, my liggaam en my familie.

Dit is ’n moet-hê-boek vir elke gesin se boekrak!

Hierdie teks volg op Maja se eerste samestelling, My eerste woordeboek: Afrikaans, Engels, Xhosa, Zoeloe. Dié teks is onlangs herdruk en is ook weer in die handel beskikbaar.

Maja Sereda is oorspronklik van Pole, maar het in 1989 na Suid-Afrika verhuis. Haar liefde vir die Suid-Afrikaanse tale het gemaak dat sy die twee woordeboeke saamgestel het vir japsnoete. Maja illustreer sedert 2007 kinderboeke en het reeds verskeie toekennings vir haar illustrasies ontvang. Haar werk is ook al in Frankryk uitgegee. Sy het ’n B.A.-graad in Inligtingsontwerp. Sy woon deesdae in Seattle, VSA, saam met haar gesin, maar behou kontak met Suid-Afrika. Maja hou daarvan om tyd in die natuur deur te bring en staproetes te verken. Haar ander passies is fotografie, heerlike kos, die aanleer van nuwe tale, poësie en keramiek.

Boekbesonderhede

Readers young and old will be enthralled by Sheila Cussons' beautifully illustrated children's book, Trevor in the Land of Fantasy

A few months before Sheila Cussons passed away, her son Jaume Saladrigas Cussons received a surprising gift from her… a manuscript she had kept to herself for decades.

She expressed a keen desire that the book be published and become available to her many readers.

The fantasy she had written for her little brother when she was still in her teens was familiar to Jaume and his brother Jordi.

When they were young, their mother often read the Trevor stories to them. While living in Spain with her husband and sons, she must have relived her youthful writing, set in South Africa, where she had grown up and would later return to.

In publishing the stories of Trevor, the hidden manuscript can finally be shared and treasured by anyone from eight to 108.

In keeping with Sheila’s long relationship with Nazareth House, this book has been dedicated to the children and staff of this landmark of giving and caring in Cape Town.

Beautifully illustrated with her own delicate artwork, the quaint characters in Trevor in the Land of Fantasy come to life, transporting the reader with them into a world of fantasy and imagination.

Book details

Twee nuwe opwindende titels in Cressida Cowell se Hoe om jou draak te tem-reeks tref die rakke!

Harwarrus Horribalus Heldehelm die Derde was ’n swaardvegter, draak¬fluisteraar en die grootste Wiking-held wat nog ooit gelewe het. Maar dié reeks gaan oor toe hy nog gesukkel het om ’n held te wees. Kinders wat DreamWorks se film How To Train your Dragon uit 2010 onthou, kan Hiccup (oftewel Harwarrus) se avonture nou in Afrikaans lees!

HOE OM ’N DRAAK SE HELD TE VERRAAI (11)

Harwarrus moet die koning van die Wilderweste word. Kan hy die heks se Vampier-spioendrake uitoorlê én boonop voor Joelfees se Dag van Doem die koning se verlore toebehore by Alvin terugsteel? En is daar ’n bedrieër in Harwarrus se kamp wat hulle almal op die ou end gaan verraai?

HOE OM ’N DRAAK SE TOORN TE TEM (12)

Wie gaan as koning van die Wilderweste gekroon word … Harwarrus of Alvin die Verraderlike? Kan Harwarrus die draak Verwoed ompraat en die rebellie stopsit … of is dit die EINDE van die drake?

“Die slot is ’n dawerende sukses, vol vlamme en rook, liefde, eer en outydse opwinding.”
Philip Womack, Daily Telegraph<

Nou ’n DreamWorks-film

OOR DIE OUTEUR
Cressida Cowell het grootgeword in die stad Londen en op ’n klein, onbewoonde eiland aan die weskus van Skotland, waar sy dit geniet het om stories te skryf, vis te vang, en die eiland te verken op soek na drake. Sy was oortuig daar het drake gelewe, en was altyd gefassineer met hulle.

OOR DIE VERTALER
Kobus Geldenhuys is bekend vir sy kinderboek¬vertalings van outeurs soos J.K. Rowling en Roald Dahl. In 2015 het hy die Elsabé Steenbergprys vir vertaalde kinder- en jeugliteratuur in Afrikaans ontvang vir Cressida Cowell se Hoe om jou draak te tem: Hoe om Drakonees te praat (Protea, 2014), en in 2016 is hy met die Alba Bouwerprys vir kinder- en jeugliteratuur bekroon vir sy vertaling van Michael Morpurgo se Hoekom die walvisse gekom het (Protea, 2015). Hy het by geleentheid ook Artes- en Safta-toekennings ontvang, en is verskeie kere benoem vir sy gesinchroniseerde vertalings van TV-reekse en animasiefilms vir die destydse SAUK-oorklankingsafdeling. Wanneer hy nie vertaal nie, skryf hy televisietekste vir Suid-Afrikaanse sepies en dramas soos Villa Rosa, Swartwater en Binnelanders.

Boekbesonderhede

Aspiring children's book illustrator? Apply for a paid internship!

"Books are an investment in a child's life" - a Q&A with award-winning edu-designer and social activist Paul Talliard

Nal’ibali column published in: Sunday World (25/02/2018), Daily Dispatch (26/02/2018), Herald (01/03/2018)

By Carla Lever

Paul Talliard


 
Hands of Honour is project that trains unemployed people to build furniture, like your beautiful mobile classroom units that encourage children to read and learn more in schools. How did you get the idea for starting Hands of Honour?

Actually, rather like our classroom furniture, the idea “unfolded” in front of my eyes. Hands of Honour started as a support group run by me for young and adult men who found it difficult to return to mainstream society after making wrong choices in life. In my case, my fondness for crack cocaine cost me my job as a fireman, as well as my loved ones and home. One day someone told me of some artificial Christmas trees that a large retail chain wanted to dump. Together with some friends at our soup kitchen we collected, fixed and sold the tree. We made R8000 rather quickly and were hooked!

But then I then had a brainwave. The soup kitchen was held in two dilapidated classrooms at the local primary school. I used R4000 of the money and we gave the classrooms a makeover. We sent photos of the makeover to folk in the retail chain, and the rest is history. Our donations of unwanted goods became bigger and better and our makeover projects became bolder…but the real makeover was happening with the men. In the seven years we’ve been doing this, dozens of men have come through our program, never to return to the soup kitchen or drugs and crime again.

What adaptable features make the Angel Classroom design so special and useful for practical classroom activities?

There are so many! The Angel Classroom on Wheels not only has books, but has educational toys installed that were chosen by early education expert. It has a secret fold out bench that doubles as a work-desk. It’s mobile and in one swift move it transforms into a puppet theatre, complete with puppets! The front section is chalkboard. The rear is a painting easel complete with canvass, paint and brushes as well as fold-out activity boards. It’s basically a mobile storytelling and learning unit.

You build many beautiful upcycled designs with Hands of Honour. What made you realise that there was a very specific need for classroom tools?

We donated one of the first units to one of a local township school. When we arrived, I got the shock of my life – the class we visited only had six “readers” for over thirty children. One of the little boys, a skinny lad of about six, had a huge black eye. When I asked him what happened to him, he just hugged me. This experience drove me to do some more research and what I discovered was downright sad. This is now my life’s mission, that with our Angel Classroom on Wheels, and with other likeminded people, we will transform these children into the next generation of leaders and problem solvers.

What personal feedback have you had from teachers and young learners?

So far, we have built and delivered 88 Angel Classrooms and have received great feedback. Teachers are full of praise, while it is always a moment of joy when a unit is folded one to reveal the delights and adventures inside.

In 2014, you won the Spark ‘Changemaker of the Year’ award and it’s easy to see why. Can you tell us a little about the social and community impact that you’ve found particularly heartwarming?

For a start, many really good men don’t spend their days in soup kitchens anymore. I’m glad I had the chance to speak hope into people’s lives, although actually it’s them who have given me hope to carry on. One guy stands out in particular: a member of the notorious 26 prison gang who once lived in a car. Nowadays he travels the country as a Safety Officer for a rigging company. Well done!

Why is access to books for children so important and how can we all help?

Of all the resources we put into the Angel Classrooms, we find books to be the one of the most expensive. We have many good people who send us books, but we would love more! They are an investment in a child’s life, but we as a country also reap responsible, capable citizens at the end of the day.

How can people support building these classroom resources?

We’d like to invite anyone to sponsor a unit. The social impact is huge – children will have a better chance of succeeding academically and more jobs will be created for people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to support themselves. Take a look at our website www.handsofhonour.co.za or contact me if you would like to assist in any way at handsofhonour@gmail.com.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org