“Reading is the foundation of learning. If you cannot read, you cannot learn.” This is how Aina Raiza Kweyo views the importance of education, which has spurred her on to start Lesheni Literacy, a non-profit grassroots effort aiming to cultivate a reading and literacy culture within informal settlements.
Through the patronage of the Tulonga Foundation, Lesheni Literacy was founded in August 2021 after seeing her neighbour’s child, who is currently in grade 5, struggling to read and write.
Kweyo said she was also inspired to start work on Lesheni Literacy as she felt it important to “intervene and bridge this gap within my community”.
The 26-year-old Kweyo, a local media personality and brains behind the reading programme, told Youth Corner that having grown up in the Goreangab informal settlement, her passion for access to information speaks to her experiences living in a place where reading materials and books were not readily available.
Designed to assist youths in the Goreangab and Agste Laan informal settlements from the ages of 8 to 18, Kweyo and her team host students an hour a day for reading under their supervision at Vikings Kindergarten. The reading hour helps empower them through books that help with language development and cultivating their reading identity.
“We believe the best way to empower children is to give them the freedom and knowledge that comes from reading. Additionally, we want children from informal settlements to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social and educational goals,” said the news anchor.
Kweyo admitted that running a non-profit in and around informal areas comes with its own challenges. Grateful for the help she has received form the community libraries, she called for more interaction with the reading programme and further donations of reading materials, board games and other educational equipment.
“If possible, people must donate new and interesting books for the children. Reading old books is redundant. We need not only books, but stationery too for the children who do their homework during the reading hour. We also need furniture and cushions for the children to be comfortable sitting on while reading. Truly, any and all donations are welcome,” said Kweyo.
Want to land a helping hand to Lesheni Literacy, dial 0816466291 or 0812579934.