Eileen and Larry Kugler volunteer
in A.V. Bukani Primary School
in rural South Africa to improve literacy through professional development for the teachers and family engagement programs. Their daughter Sara has joined them on several trips. In 2010 they created a school library of 23,000 books which impacts the entire community. They returned in 2015 for their 5th trip. Contributions through the Kugler Education Fund at South Africa Partners support this wonderful school and community.
With great joy and excitement, we report that the library at A.V.Bukani is thriving! Books are on the library shelves, organized by level. Teachers have set up reading centers in their classrooms and are further refining the levels so they meet the needs of their learners. They have truly taken ownership of the library.
Teachers report that the students are loving the books they are taking home, eager to get a new one each day. The classroom system we helped set up - where the students put the card from their book into a clothes pin with their name - is working well. Most teachers said ALL books are coming back, except if a child is absent. (Can you imagine that?? 100% return!) Students know they must bring back their book to get a new one and they sure want that new one.
Stakeholders in the broader community are helping to strengthen and sustain the library and the entire school. One of the local businesswomen donated paint. The outside has been painted white and township artists will soon paint a mural.
Members of the Womens Institute, who are orange farmers' wives and B&B owners, have come back to the school to label more books alongside residents of Nomathamsanqa township. We are so happy that this personal interaction is continuing among diverse members of the region.
Books Throughout the Region
The donated books are not only serving the students of A.V. Bukani. About 50 boxes were donated to the municipal library. Volunteers have covered and labled the books for their system, and the books are now part of a traveling collection of books that are shared by libraries in townships throughout the region.
The municipal library now runs the library in the township high school. Some of the donated books are filling those shelves. A new Internet Center was just opened in the high school, providing internet access for the entire township - such an exciting opportunity for all!
New Volunteers Heading to A.V. Bukani
We recently learned that two new volunteers will visit A.V. Bukani in January and February, continuing the professional development on literacy. Clearly, this is a big step, as it is difficult to see major progress when we are only able to provide teacher training during our annual visit.
The volunteers are skilled retired teachers. We started our collaboration with them through a great SKYPE conversation with one of the volunteers, who just returned from a year at a school in China. She will spend 8 weeks at A.V. Bukani, which will certainly have an impact. She is staying with one of the teachers in the township.
The volunteers are working through People and Places-Responsible Volunteering as we did. London-based People and Places does a terrific job of matching volunteers with projects around the world. Soon these new volunteers will begin working with Paul Miedema of Calabash Tours/Trust who oversees the project in our region of South Africa. We feel so fortunate to be connected to these ethical, well-run organizations; and we know the new volunteers will feel the same. We'll soon have personal contact with them and they have already read all the reports we have filed.
Thanks to our wonderful DC-based volunteers
We thank Kay Campbell of Burness Communications for some of the wonderful recent photos of the library. Kay and her husband visited A.V. Bukani on their vacation in October, volunteering to take photos of the library and other Calabash projects in the region.
It was great to get together recently with many of the volunteers who spent so much time collecting, sorting and labeling the books at our home. Larry and I calculated that volunteers provided about 240 days of labor getting the library ready for shipment! No wonder we're still a bit tired :)
We thank all of you who so generously have contributed to this project. The library is just one tool in the effort to increase literacy in this wonderful school and community. The work continues. If you would like to support this project, please see How to Donate.