Meet our Eastern Cape FUNda Leader, 38-year-old Zanele Ndlovu from Gwenxintaba village in Lusikisiki. Zanele is passionate about literacy and has been involved in several initiatives to help instill the love of reading for children in her community.
What are you currently working on for Nal'ibali and what do you enjoy doing most?
I am the co-founder and director of the Novulakuvaliwe Library. We work with four junior secondary schools and three secondary schools from different villages here in Lusikisiki. We have partnered with organisations like National Book Week, where we donated activity books for all our junior secondary schools, where every enrolled child took a book home. We also partnered with Super Scientists, who donated science-oriented calendars for all the matriculants in the three secondary schools that we work with.
How long have you been a FUNda Leader?
I applied online in April 2021 to be part of Nal’ibali, and I asked for books and newspaper supplements. I then received 10 storybooks via PEP stores which we were grateful for and read them with the children who came to the library. In August we got a visit from Nompucuko Zakaza, Nal'ibali’s Eastern Cape provincial coordinator who gave us a manual on how to start reading clubs and books to read.
How has the Nal'ibali literacy programme helped you develop literacy skills in your community?
We love the work that Nal’ibali is doing to improve the love of reading for children, especially in their mother tongue. More programmes and training in the rural villages are needed. Having quarterly workshops for teachers, parents, and children by trained facilitators would be very helpful.
What can Nal'ibali do to improve children's love of reading, in deep rural areas?
I am very passionate about rural development. Everyone wants to go to the big cities and forget about rural villages, living them underdeveloped, especially as far as education and other life skills are concerned. I asked myself “who is going to do that work if we all run to big cities?” and felt it was my duty to start.
How have people in your community received the work that you do as a FUNda Leader?
People in our community appreciate the literacy work that we are doing, and they are always hungry for more – especially the children.
What do you enjoy the most about the Nal'ibali project, and how can you encourage others to join?
Being a FUNda Leader is really fulfilling because the programme is very much needed to encourage children to enjoy reading. People who have time on their hands and who care about children’s futures should join this programme. Not only does this help children, but it also provides an opportunity to grow as a leader. I believe there is always something to learn.
As a woman, what is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength as a woman and a person, in general, is that I am unique. There is no one like me! I bring my uniqueness to the table. That's my power and I draw strength that way to help me carry on.
In what ways do women today face challenges, and how can they speak out about those challenges?
The challenges that women face today remain the same as in the past. Even though times have changed I still see women facing the same struggles. Raising children and doing household chores (especially for a girl child) limits opportunities for education in some cultures. hat to be a complete woman one must be married with children. We are still a long way off, but I am hopeful because some women nowadays are fighting to be acknowledged and recognised.
Have you noticed any differences between children in reading clubs and those who aren’t?
I haven't interacted with children who are not part of my reading club but I have noticed that children have grown more confident in expressing themselves, and enjoy reading individually and in the reading club.