The Women of Nal’ibali: Empowering Children with Literacy
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The Women of Nal’ibali: Empowering Children with Literacy

'Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible','

-Audrey Hepburn.

Each day, we’re inspired by the team of Nal’ibali Cluster Mentors, Story Sparkers, Trainers and Reading Club Leaders who make it possible put children on the path to success. Through the power of reading and stories, they provide the tools and tips that parents need to grow their children’s talents and excitement for learning.

This Women’s Day, we meet six superwomen of Nal’ibali to find out what drives their passion to promote reading for enjoyment in their communities. They have helped start and sustain reading clubs – in schools, libraries, Early Childhood Development centres, and even their homes. Each of them have received specialised training in reading-for-enjoyment practices from PRAESA (The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign. And each of them have a powerful story and a unique interest in the importance of child literacy.

Phumeza Mangcaka, Story Sparker – Eastern Cape

Phumeza Mangcaka is our Story Sparker from Eastern Cape
“Sharing my passion with children is very rewarding – especially when I see their vocabularies and reading skills improving, and how much they look forward to our time together.”

Phumeza’s passion is to bring parents and children together through reading. The Khayelitsha-resident supports 12 clubs in the Uitenhague area, in the Eastern Cape, including the Masiphulisane Nal’ibali Reading Club, which she runs from her very own home! She says she sees the impact of deep engagement with storytelling and great books to grow children’s emotional and cognitive development, so it’s in these clubs that she works to enrich children’s lives and minds.

Portia Daniso, Training Support Office – Western Cape

Portia Daniso is our Training Support Office, from Western Cape

“When children read or hear stories, it expands their imaginations and opens up new worlds for them.”

Growing up in Kraaifontein, she realised that not all the children in her neighborhood enjoyed the same storytelling experiences she had as a child. “I used to love listening to the intsomi or fairytales my grandmother used to tell me in the evenings. It’s that memory that motivated me to give back and inspire a love of reading and books in parents so they pass on a love of storie to their children, too.”
Daniso trains men and women of all ages in English and isiXhosa on how to engage children, including babies and infants, with books and stories in everyday life. For her, it’s all about helping caregivers to building children’s self-confidence by using the medium of text and stories.


Shinny Sekele, Story Sparker - Limpopo

Shinny Sekele is our Story Sparker from Limpopo
“No matter who you are or where you come from, you can help put your kids on the path to success”

Our third superwoman, Story Sparker Shinny Sekele, supports 12 clubs in Ngwanamatlang, Ga-Moraba, Mamone, Diphagane and Madibong. Having worked as an Early Childhood Development practitioner and volunteer librarian at the Dikgabje Primary School, she’s always had a passion for the written word. By creating a relaxed and safe environment for kids to read, Sekele ensures that children have the freedom to let their imagination run wild in a safe space they can visit each week.

Thabisa Nomkhonwana

Thabisa Nomkhonwana from the Western Cape
“Children experience stories and books in different ways, and they grow to love them.”

Committed to showcasing the power of stories to spark children’s potential and help them become better learners at school, Thabisa has already set up 24 reading clubs in Cape Town communities. These include the Siyafunda and Grow Smart Nal’ibali Reading Clubs in Philippi. She feels that there’s something uniquely special about running a reading club in your own neighbourhood: “you get to connect with the children and their parents very well.”

Nkosingiphile Myeza, Story Sparkers – Kwazulu Natal

Nkosingiphile Myeza is a Story Sparkers from Kwazulu Natal
“It has always been my dream to work with children and make a difference in my community”

Nkosingiphile has helped to set up 16 clubs in Nongoma since 2012, and currently helps support and run reading clubs in the Majomela area. She has built a strong relationship with the kids she works with, acting as both their friend and mentor. The joy that she experiences from seeing the excited faces of kids in her reading club is unparalleled. Like all of our staff, Myeza believes that reading and writing can help transform the lives of all children.

Keke Mokatsanyane, Reading Club Leader - Gauteng

Keke Mokatsanyane is our Reading Club Leader from Gauteng
“Anyone of any age or language can get involved and help their children succeed…. Just by reading and sharing stories with them every day.”

Mokatsanyane leads reading-for-enjoyment sessions at the Motjoli Primary School and Leratong Early Childhood Development Centre Reading Clubs - two of the 300 clubs part of the Nal’ibali network across South Africa. She strongly believes in the role of caregivers in the development of children. That’s why her reading clubs welcome not only children, but their parents and guardians too. This not only gives adults the chance to practice sharing stories with their children to develop their literacy skills but also as a means to connect with their kids. Mokatsanyane’s advice for all parents follows the Principle of the Three P’s: “Passion, preparation and patience! No matter who you are or where you come from, you can help put your kids on the path to success at school - just by reading and telling them stories at home before they start school,” she says.

These Nal'ibali superstars work tirelessly to inspire both children and adults around them to read, enjoy books and emerge themselves in a culture of learning. This Women's Day lets take a moment to celebrate them, and all the ladies in our lives, for their hard work, love and compassion!

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