International Exposure for Masiphumelele Library

Masiphumelele library is a key resource for the community, providing both standard library services and valuable outreach and educational programmes. However, many visitors to the library may not realise just how much of a model the library has become to communities elsewhere in Africa, and now also Europe. As part of both the library and Masicorp team, Nyasha Maziye recently had the opportunity to share his experience of ICT training at Masiphumelele Library with fellow public librarians in Lithuania and Poland. Nyahsa has lived in Masiphumelele since 2007 and completed his UNISA degree in accountancy, with financial assistance from Masicorp in 2011. He has worked as both a volunteer and staff at the library and currently delivers IT training from beginner to advanced levels at the library.

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Previously he has visited both western and eastern Africa to showcase the learning programmes on offer in Masiphumelele as part of the Young African Library Innovators initiative (IYALI). This was his first visit to Europe to explain how Masiphumelele Library has successfully piloted innovative services.

Masiphumelele Library opened in 2003 and was Masicorp’s first major project in the community. It initially operated with donations of books, but is now under City of Cape Town management. Masicorp and other NGO’s provide for extra staff, additional outreach programmes, and the computer room which can only operate with external funding. Masicorp has currently secured overseas funding to deliver IT training from the library. Nyasha has played a crucial role in delivering Masicorp’s IT program at the library and this was the focus of his presentation to the IYALI group at the National Library of Lithuania.

The meeting was held in Eastern Europe to coincide with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) general conference, which was hosted in Wrocław, Poland. Nyasha and the IYALI delegates were also able to attend, which provided a huge opportunity to network and further spread the news of the innovative programs on offer in Masiphumelele. One of the delegates sought out Nyasha to thank him for presenting to them in Uganda as part IYALI in an earlier meeting, and explained how they had begun to offer similar IT training from a library in Entebbe. It seems that the innovative work happening at Masiphumelele Library is being noticed and held up as an example of good practice elsewhere in Africa.

Around the world, libraries are increasingly seen as more than just a location to borrow books and read or study. As the world becomes ever more digitized, libraries must become more innovative and use their spaces effectively to meet the needs of local communities. On returning to Masiphumelele, Nyasha was able to share some examples of how the Eastern Europeans are using their libraries. Could we be seeing this in Masiphumelele in the near future?

Free Computer Training at Masiphumelele Library

At the end of last year we reported on the success of the graduates of the advanced computer literacy class held at Masiphumelele library. This is a programme that we were able to offer thanks to an overseas donation from a personal donor in the United States. We are pleased to report that funds have been received to continue the programme in 2017.

Over 7500 people-hours of tuition were given in 2016. Basic classes, are taught by Nyameko Nzuzo 3 mornings each week and cater mainly for young adults from the community. Classes last for 2.5 hours, one person per computer. Nyameko has been operating a unique ‘open class’ approach, working with students at all levels on creative projects which cover all commonly used skills and techniques of Microsoft Office Applications. The main focus is on Word Processing and effective use of the Internet.

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Advanced classes take place two afternoons per week, and are run by Nyasha Sithole. This “certificated “course which is more formalised and challenging has gained a good reputation in the community as attendance has increased by almost 10%.

Students from both classes report better work opportunities after training with staff at the library. Many are now employed and utilising the skills they gained on the programme.

Children‘s classes are offered by Nyameko Nzuzo twice a week, and he has trained a group of youngsters in basic computer skills. The most dedicated students also received certificates at the graduation.

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Free internet access, with support is also available and over 11 385 free Internet sessions (45 minutes) were received in 2016

When the computers are not being used for training, the library operates a free ‘internet cafe’ style facility where community members may use the computers to produce CV’s, access to information about employment and training opportunities, use email, work on their studies and generally participate in the digital age. There are trained staff permanently present to assist community members to make the most of their internet sessions.

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Easter Fun at Masiphumelele Library

Many thanks are due to Masicorp volunteer Vicki Rattray who arranged Easter egg hunts for children from Masiphumelele creches over the Easter weekend. The egg hunts took place at Masiphumelele Library where Vicki was assisted by her sons Alex and Dylan and their friends, Josh McGuiness, and Hope and Kyle Mostert. Many thanks to everybody involved – and a special thanks to Reddam House, who kindly donated the chocolates for the children.

Here are some pictures of the many happy faces.

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A Boost for English Literacy in Masiphumelele

Masicorp is involved in several English literacy projects in Masiphumelele, which play a crucial role in promoting educational and business success for children and adults in the community. Children who live near or below the poverty line have much lower average reading scores than their peers. This lack of basic literacy skills is linked with academic failure, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, unemployment, low productivity, and welfare dependence. Literacy problems extend into adult life where parents who cannot read tend to have children who struggle with reading, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

We were recently delighted to receive a generous donation of 10,00miser0 Euro to assist the delivery of English literacy project from Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation. Misereor have assisted development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America for over 50 years, but this is the first time they have worked in Masiphumelele. Masicorp will be using the funding to support five key literacy projects:

English…..Please! Now in its 4th year this project supports the children from Masiphumelele that attend school in Fish Hoek. For further details see our previous blog posts HERE.

Homework Club at Masi Library Volunteers provide homework help and workshops for primary school children of Masiphumelele.  Masicorp and the library support this worthwhile initiative.

Wordworks (WW) Literacy Programme This English literacy programme is designed to teach disadvantaged children a second language. Volunteers trained in WW methodology mainly come from the communities where programmes are based and operate out of the community library. Assessments are carried out every 6 months. Masicorp currently partly funds WW in Masiphumelele.

MasiFunde Reading Programme Masicorp set up an English Lab, run successfully and sustainably at Ukhanyo Primary School, where we promoting reading in English. For further details see our previous blog posts HERE.

Adult Literacy Programme Masicorp’s Adult Literacy Programme encourage adults to attend lessons once a week at the Library to improve their English Language Skills.  These lessons are attended by employed as well as unemployed community members.  In addition there are also optional reading sessions, where reading for enjoyment is encouraged.

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Many thanks to Misereor for their grant to support these initiatives and we hope to work with them again in the future.

Artwork From The Stay & Play Christmas Party

Masicorp’s Mother & Toddler Group (Stay & Play) continues to be held at the Masiphumelele library and has been a big success throughout the year. Each week there are 10-25 toddlers attending (with their mothers).

Our Facebook followers will have seen examples of the artwork they have produced earlier in the year. We are pleased to present their latest efforts, which we are sure you will agree highlight the advances the children are making. The work below was produced and exhibited at the end of year Stay & Play Christmas party.

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bottle-xmasxmas-starsOur thanks to the volunteers and paid helpers from the community that make all this possible (from left to right Sophie, Maria, Charley, and Charley).

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Farewell (for now) to our Founders

Masicorp volunteers from across all of our projects and many of the partners we work with in Masiphumelele gathered in the library yesterday for a well-earned ‘thank-you’ session. For several weeks now Masicorp’s founders John and Carol Thompson have been in Cape Town, together with Jane Philippi from the US funding team. Although John and Carol have ‘retired’ from active duty in South Africa they remain Directors and have a keen interest in all of our projects. In recent weeks they have once again become familiar faces around Masiphumelele.

US TeamIn a few days they fly home the States so this was a final chance to them to say their thanks to everyone. John was generously given five minutes to sum up the history of Masicorp and did a fabulous job of keeping to time (well almost). Volunteers new and old in the audience all learned something new. For those of us living in the area, change sometimes seems to happen slowly in Masiphumelele but John summed up the progress made in his time by referring to the number of formal brick houses now visible on every street, whereas it was all wooden shacks when Masicorp began their work.

Library March09 004The venue, in the library, was symbolic as it was one of the first buildings that Masicorp built for the residents. Its success has seen it become administered by the City of Cape Town and yesterday also marked its reopening after a six week period of improvements by the city. Most notably the reception desk is now directly facing you as you enter the building allowing the staff to provide a genuine welcome as you arrive. It is much more than aesthetics of course with so many learning programs run form the library by Masicorp and other NGO’s. Sue Alexander, the head librarian, also took the time to say a few words and welcomed everyone back to the new look library. She was pleased to inform us that Masicorp’s projects remain the “icing on the cake” that the City of cape Town’s support provides.

As ever Nonny’s Bakery provided excellent cakes and thanks must go to all the volunteers who were left behind the counter pouring drinks. Most of all we thank John and Carol for establishing Masicorp and their ongoing support –  and we wish them a safe trip back home.

Masiphumelele Library

For any resident of Masiphumelele wishing to improve their educational prospects the library is one of the most important buildings in the township. Under the leadership of Susan Alexander it is a vital source of free education and personal development for township residents. Masicorp and other NGO’s run many learning projects from the library. We recently reported on the most recent of these – a mother & toddler group – but Masicorp’s volunteers also offer 19 other programs in areas such as computer training and adult literacy.

Lib01Prior to 2003 there was no library in Masiphumelele. Masicorp was instrumental in building the existing facility and a later extension in 2010. For many years the library was run as a satellite of nearby Fish Hoek but gained full community library status in 2012. In addition to the educational programs there are now over 45,000 book loans a year made to members of the community.

Lib02Masicorp has about 50 active volunteers working on the various programs at the library, including many from the Masiphumelele community. To promote and share some of the many ongoing activities taking place at the library Susan Alexander and her team have now started their own blog. Please follow the link below to catch up with just some of the many initiatives happening now at Masiphumelele library.

Masiphumelele Library Blog