Following the hugely successful Children in the Wilderness Rocktail Beach Camp in October, Chris Crewdson headed back to KwaMpukane in November, this time to assist on the Vululwazi Primary School Library revamp…On arrival, the Vululwazi Library was a very forlorn-looking space which had become more of a storeroom for broken desks and beaten up textbooks than anything it might have originally been intended for.
With the help of the local Wilderness Safaris Community Liaison Officer, Eugene Tembe, Ryan Sobey of Different.Org, two learners from the village high school and believe it or not a, herd boy, plus Landi from Rocktail Beach Camp, Janet and myself from CITW, we got to work.
Mission Library Revamp swung into action! In order to make sense of what needed to be done, phase one entailed removing all the dumped rubbish out of the way of the kids.
Undeterred by a disappointing lack of interest from school staff, our little team got stuck in, starting with a thorough wash-down and spring clean. We were fortunate that the forecast rain did not materialise and everything was able to dry quickly so that the poly-filling of cracks and holes could commence.
None of us is in anyway an experienced handyman or –woman, but the passion and knowledge that we were going to make this a better space motivated us and it was not long before our goal was starting to take shape. We called it quits by late afternoon and there were smiles all round on our achievement, despite the rocky start.
Day two heralded the arrival of the Vululwazi Primary School principal, Senzo, along with our herd boy. We were now starting to become the team we had planned and with the extra hands the first coat of paint was already making a huge difference. Today also saw Landi call on her mural painting expertise, and it did not take her long to rekindle her graffiti artist days – only kidding! – though highly impressed, we watched clouds, an apple tree and the most welcoming flowers start to adorn the walls.
Sunday, our last day, arrived quicker than expected and it was time to attend to the final tweaking. We were spot on target to have the library all ready and waiting for the anticipated handover to the school governing body and more importantly, the children.
Our "extreme makeover team" went into touch-up mode and it was time for the hugely appreciated donated books to find their way out of their packing boxes and onto the library shelves. Voila – the Vululwazi Primary School Library was now a reality!
Monday saw the official handover to the school – is there anything better than seeing the excitement and near-bewilderment from 170+ children, as each class with their teacher was introduced to their new library and how to use such a place, to awaken their minds and allow these eager souls to tap into their dreams and aspirations?
To make this library more than just a place of knowledge for the children, a special adult’s section has also been established. It is now up to the school principal and his staff to get the word out that the local community has a place for its residents to open up their minds to the wonders of books and reading. Hopefully the interaction of the school and community will create many other opportunities from this experience.
Of course, none of this could have been possible without the generous support of the following sponsors…
• Different. Org for some of the funding the building materials etc. required.
• Mr Price Home KZN for all the soft furnishings that elevated the library finished product to its current level.
• Europcar for the preferential vehicle rates, allowing us to transport all the books and building materials to this remote village on the northern KZN coast.
• The local and international authors, Wilderness Safaris staff and friends, for the hundreds of donated books, both adult and children’s, now filling the shelves.
By Chris Crewdson