Written word comes to life for the unschooled

Racqel Booysen, 49, from Manenberg.

The Mustadafin Foundation has been teaching illiterate adults to read and write through their Adult Literacy Programme, for the past 28 years.

Most of the participants are aged between 17 and 60 and the programme has helped more than 1 000 adults.

The programme was launched in Montrose Park in 2004 and in Delft and Manenberg in 2014.

They began offering literacy classes in Manenberg in February last year after they detected that many of the parents of children at an early childhood development (ECD) centre in the area could not read or write.

Eighteen women in Manenberg joined the programme last year and two of them are still taking part.

Participants attend classes on Mondays and Tuesdays for two to three hours at the ECD centre at 18 4th Avenue, Sherwood Park.

They are taught numeracy, literacy, English and Afrikaans, basic mathematics, and how to write letters.

Jasmina Salie, the adult literacy facilitator at Mustadafin, said for those taking part it’s not only about learning to read and write but also about developing their social skills.

“We know that Manenberg is a gang-infested area and many of the mothers had children who belong to different gangs and when they came here they bonded with each other.

“We also offer them (counselling) when they need it because of the social problems the women face,” said Ms Salie.

She said some women could write but they came to the classes to improve upon their skills.

“This in turn, helps their children because their parents are able to go back home and help them,” she said.

Racquel Booysen, 49, from Manenberg is one of the women who is still attending the programme.

Ms Booysen said she could read before attending the literacy programme but it has helped her to better understand the meanings of words.

“The programme helped me to help my child at home because we struggled with the language barrier.

“I could never talk in front of people but I can do it now. I have the confidence to speak to other people and I can help them also,” she said.

Ms Booysen said her message to other people who struggle with their literacy skills is that they must not be shy to seek help.

“No matter what age you are and what circumstance you are in, come to the programme,” she added.

Sylvia Fondling, 61, from Manenberg, also joined the programme last year and is the other individual still attending classes.

“My reason for joining is because I couldn’t read or write as I left school in Grade 1.

“My friend Mariam told me about the literacy programme and I joined.

“My goal was to learn the alphabet. One day for my husband’s birthday I was able to write a letter to him. I was so happy that I could write the letter and now I can read them myself,” said Ms Fondling.

Ms Fondling encourages other people to join the programme and get help.

“There is lots of love here. We understand and support each other.

“I can help my children better now with their projects. My husband is also very happy.

“One day a letter came and my husband said that he was going to call one of the children to read it but I said no it’s fine I can read it,” she said.

Anyone who would like to join the programme can call 021 633 0010 or you can visit www. mustadafin.org.za