Seirappies, South Africa
Godlever Lebitiso Mashiane
7th grader in South Africa
28 January 2009
Dear Trees for Life American Company,
My name is Godlever Lebitiso Mashiane. I am 14 year. I was born in 1995 - 11 September. I live in Seirappies is a little village. I am the first born in my family. I live with my mother and two brothers and one sister.
I am happy to be with Boitumelo and Thabo [names the local people use for Marguerite and Gregor Kennedy - see sidebar]. I hope you know these names.
They have been in our village almost one year. Most of the time they are at the primary school. Now they are the educators for grade 6 and 7 Maths but last year when I was in grade 7, they made a club after school, The Kgotsoro Youth Club. No one missed school on club day which was every Monday and Thursday.
They talked to 31 of grade 7 learners in Kgotsoro Youth Club about books. We do not have books at this school. There are sometimes one book for learning Maths for a class but we all share the book.
Thabo and Boitumelo asked us if we like books. We did not know what to say.
They asked us about books that are with stories. They asked if we like to read books. All the questions made us confused. But they said books can help us be good learners and can be fun for us to read. So we said OK.
One day Thabo and Boitumelo were very happy. They said they walked 5 kilometers to the tar road and hitched a ride to Rebone and went to the post office and got a parcel. They carried the parcel home. In the parcel was books. This is why they are happy.
On some of our club days we all got to pick books and read them and look at pretty pictures. They read a book to us every club day. And then we started to read the books on club day.
And they said, do you want to read to other learners in low grades of Kgotsoro? We did. This was a happy thing to do for Kgotsoro Youth Club. One day two grade 7 learners went to grade 1 and read a book. Then we pass out books for grade 1 to look at.
This happened every day with different grades and different grade 7 learners. All the rest of the year we did this and everyone in Kgotsoro School liked the books we read. My sister was in grade 1 last year and she would tell everyone when books came to her room.
But for me I like to draw and to read story and to write some letter and story. One time when I was reading in front of grade 3 a book about Rumpelstiltskin I was very happy. I talked to the learners in Sepedi [the local language] but I read the book in English. I asked the learners questions to see if they understand. It was for me a happy day.
I still think about that because when I was in front of the learners with the book I felt full of eagerness. And all of the learners were full of eagerness also.
Now I hope that my future will be successful. Now I want to be a T.V. presenter. I have seen a T.V. presenter when I was at friend's house. Because I can read and speak in front of people. I am not shy to speak in front of people.
I appreciate this company that has sending us some book at our school. I thank you so much that we can learn and read English at Kgotsoro Primary School and Kgotsoro Youth Club.
Maybe if more books were at Kgotsoro all the learners could be happy to read. I wish that you can send us more books to learn and to read. The book are in English and that made it challenging but that might also been good since English is important to learn and writing exams will be in English.
God bless this company. I am still thanking you about what you have done for our school. Yes! I am happy that you have been sending books to my school.
Your most beloved friend,
Godlever Lebitiso Mashiane
Update from Gregor and Marguerite Kennedy:
A furniture store owner in a nearby town has constructed a rolling bookcase, and the books are proudly on its shelves. We have established a "student library committee" made up of 12 students, along with a very enthusiastic teacher librarian.
The bookcart/library wheels around from classroom to classroom and the students spend a short while with the books. We dream of a time when there are enough books for each child to check out one and take it home for a few days to read to her/his grandmother or siblings.
Another shipment of 200 books has been sent to the school in South Africa.
This story is one example of what is taking place through Books for Life, an educational branch of Trees for Life. Books for Life shares the joy of reading and learning with people around the world. We do this by providing books, setting up libraries and creating effective learning tools for parts of the world where books are scarce.
Reading is the cornerstone of knowledge. And knowledge is the foundation of a brighter future for us all.