Get Involved: AYM

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Last week I shared information about The Shine Centre (where I volunteer) in Cape Town. Today we focus on Agape Youth Movement in Soshanguve.








What does AYM do?

AYM is a youth lead organisation. They actually want young people to get involved, help themselves and others. They have many different programmes and all of them focus on education as a way to positively change the lives of young people.

How do I volunteer?

They prefer not to use the word ‘volunteer’ but Agents of Change. These are young people who do want to see change in their communities. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved. If you would like to tutor in schools, mentor offer team building exercises etc. You can see how this would be something that you would need to committed to. Last year AYM launched a (Science) tutoring project at Ruabohlale Junior Primary school in Soshanguve.

Which Schools does AYM work with?

Ruabohale Junior Secondary School, Amogelang Senior Secondary School, Rodney Mokoena Primary School & Refihlilepele Primary School.

What Skills do I need?

AYM needs people with a variety of skills. Skills that they wouldn’t mind sharing with members of the community. They run various programmes. See which one you might be able to help with:

  • Tutoring
  • Mentorship
  • Science Labs Projects
  • Career Expo
  • Financial Literacy Workshops
  • Sports Tournaments
  • Poetry Sessions

If you have skills in any of these areas and are willing to get involved with the young people in the community then Get Involved.

Not all of us have time to go to schools (during work hours) and help children read/write. But we can use our skills to empower young people (through education). Never underestimate the importance of Career Days or Financial Literacy Workshops. All those things are part of improving young people’s lives through education. They then in turn help the community

I’m in! Now what?

email AYM or call them on 012 771 4705

Tell them what ‘skills’ you have and where you see yourself fitting in. They are more than happy to have people come in and help. I spoke to Thabang on the phone and he is very patient and happy to point you in the right direction.

Please let me know if you know of any organisations that need volunteers/books. Anywhere in South Africa. If they deal with education, I will write about them or interview someone from the organisation.

Get involved: Shine

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Every year, without fail. It happens. People are up in arms. Parents, people with no children, even those who don’t really care about schools. They all complain about the state of education in South Africa. “How can the pass mark be so low? No wonder these kids fail at life! This should be illegal etc etc”. It’s exhausting. I tweeted about it.

I suggested that instead of ‘rage’ around matric results time we should get involved during the school year.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

I’m going to compile a list of school projects & NGOs that need volunteers. I will try my best to cover all provinces.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

We don’t all have time during the week so I’ll try find some wknd gwans too. If you don’t have time but books, stationery etc thats fine too

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

Anger is not enough & it’s exhausting. Let’s get involved. Let me know of any school projects/NGOs that you know of. Let’s share the info.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

I used to be one of those people. In 2009, while I was still a radio presenter, I interviewed someone from the Shine Centre. She asked me to join them for one session and see what they get up to. Instead of the predictable rage, I found myself getting involved. I became a (very small) part of the solution.

Every week I will share a different organisation that is in need of volunteers. I will start with one that I know very well. The Shine Centre


What Does The Shine Centre Do?

The Shine Centre provides literacy and language support for Grd 2 & 3 learners.

What skills do I need?

If you can read and write (English) then you are it! It also helps if you like children and are patient. Volunteers attend training sessions. These happen quite often. This is necessary because the Shine Centre uses specific methods & games. The sessions happen every few months; for new volunteers and others who would like to brush up on their skills.

How does it work?

Once you’ve gone through the training you are ready! The Centre Manager (at the school) will then pair you up with a Grd 2/3 learner. You will work with the same child so you can track their progress. The children are usually shy in the beginning. My isiXhosa is bad (I speak SeSotho) so that is always a great source of amusement for them. That’s my usual ice breaker. You spend an hour with your ‘learning partner’.

The sessions take place at a school and they are usually in the morning. Children that have been *assessed (by Shine Centre) are pulled out of class for an hour. These sessions take place in the ‘Shine Classroom’ where all the necessary learning material is.

*The assessments take place at the end of the year. Children who are below their ‘age literacy level’ are then put on the list to be part of the Shine Centre’s hour the following year.

During the hour

The hour is broken up into 4 parts and you will go though reading, play (Shine specific) games, writing (sentences) and a little bit of comprehension. I’ve been volunteering since 2009 and I can tell you that the first few weeks will test you. It has nothing to do with the children. More to do with you (and your ego). It takes a lot of time (and repetition) for the kids to finally ‘get it’. That’s just how you learn. But we tend to forget that. In (the beginning of) 2009 I felt like I was not helping at all. One of my learning partners couldn’t read words that were made up of more than 3 letters. Near the end of the year, we were reading a book. Sometimes you have to read together. She covered my mouth and asked to read by herself. I was so proud of her. She came to the word ‘birthday’, I held my breathe and she read the word like a pro. That hour will become the best part of your morning :)

Where? (Cape Town)

There are several Shine Centres around Cape Town. I volunteer at the Prestwich Street Primary School. Because it is a convenient location. I often have early morning meetings in town so it works.

I want to volunteer. Now what?

Well done! Contact Carrie Masheck (she is all kinds of awesome)

Please let me know if you know of any organisations that need volunteers/books. Anywhere in South Africa. If they deal with education, I will write about them or interview someone from the organisation.

September Book 1 (The Whale Caller)

posted in: Book Worm | 0

September Book 1 (The Whale Caller)

I think we should just call 2012 & 2013 my Zakes Mda years. I was going through my books, hoping that I would find my copy of Ways Of Dying. Sadly, some swine really did steal my book. Aaarrgh! But I did find a copy of The Whale Caller. Then Marcee suggested that perhaps I swapped books with someone and have forgotten about it.

The book is indeed about a whale caller, not to be confused with Hermanus whale crier. The Whale Crier alerts visitors when there are whales nearby. Never been to Hermanus but I understand that people go there for whale watching. The crier let’s them know where the whales are by blowing his horn. Don;t ask me how people know exactly where to go though.

Back to the book: The Whale Caller is about a love triangle. One with a twist; man, woman and whale. I want to tell you more but I feel like I would be doing the ‘annoying spoiler thing’. If you’re familiar with Zakes Mda’s writing then you already know that this is a magical book. He has a way of finding the magic in the mundane.

August Book 3 (Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night)

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Don’t even ask me how I’ve had time to read 3 books this month. I don’t know how and I am just grateful for it. Really I am. Last month I was very sick (with a chest infection that wouldn’t go away) and I spent a lot of time in bed or running around trying to catch up. I’m grateful for my health and being able to wake up early (4:30 am) and read while the world is still quiet-ish.

Sindiwe Magona is a wonderful woman. I interviewed her a few times (when I was a radio person in my past life) and she is hillarious. She is also one heck of a speaker. I had never read any of her work and I wanted to remedy that quickly. It was almost a year ago when I bought this book. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I buy more books than I read (I’m working on my addiction). I never leave home without a book. A few mornings ago I discovered that I didn’t have a book in my bag. I ran downstairs to the dungeon and grabbed the first book I saw. Image

Living, Loving and Lying Awake is collection of short stories about Black Women during apartheid. In fact the first few short stories are those of domestic workers/maids. Those stories are everything that The Help struggled to be. I am absolutely taken with the way Sindiwe Magona writes. She is very honest and never afraid for the story to get ugly.

I wept when I read ‘Two Little Girls & a City’. It is a short story about 2 little girls who are murdered on the same day. One in the township and another on the Atlantic Seaboard. Both in Cape Town. Both had loving parents but their stories were treated differently.

This book is by no means depressing. There are stories of young girls who grew up in townships and their experiences. All experiences I could relate to. I laughed, cried (as stated before), clapped and even exclaimed (as though I was listening to juicy gossip). Sindiwe Magona told so many important, honest and touching stories. I want everyone to read this book of short stories. Do yourself a favour :)

The incredibly talented Sindiwe Magona (image via Mail&Guardian click on it to go there)

August Book 2 (Sculptors of Mapungubwe)

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*It’s not often one can say they have become friends with one of their favourite authors. I also don’t think I’ve ever read an advance copy of an author’s personal copy. But now I can say that I have. He he he he. Look at me! I turn 30 and start rubbing shoulders with lovely people… And stealing their books. Well… I am returning it this Tuesday so don’t you judge me!


After the first book of the month I was in desperate need of something that would MOVE me. Oh boy was I moved after I finished reading The Sculptors of Mapungubwe.

We are taken back in time (1223 CE) in the kingdom of Mapungubwe. The story is that of a rivalry between Rendi (Rendani) and Chata (Chatambudza). The 2 are raised as brothers even thought Chata is the son of one of Rendi’s father’s workers. The relationship of the 2 boys begins to strain when Rendi suspects that his father favours Chata.

Years later when Rendi holds the esteemed position of Royal Sculptor he still holds a grudge towards Chata. Chata on the other hand is unmarried (Rendani has 3 wives) and seems to only be interested in doing whatever he pleases.  I was absolutely drawn into this tale of rivalry between the 2 sculptors who once considered each other brothers. It is beautiful, tragic, magical and energetic.

What made me love this novel is the details (and descriptions) of the day to day lives of the people of Mapungubwe. In school we are not taught anything about South Africa before 1652 (Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival). I know it is not a historical novel but dammit it felt good to read about something way before 1652 (in South Africa). I love the book. It’s available on Amazon. Get it, you won’t regret it. This is one of my favourite reads of the year.

*This is not my first time on ‘The Internets’. I know how some of my opening lines can be misconstrued (by the bored and always offended) as boasting. Please believe that I was not boasting and it was all ‘tongue in cheek’ a.k.a ‘I’m such a dork’ b.k.a ‘you know I don’t believe any of that stuff’. So please don’t start something neh? I thank you.

Jan Book 1 (The Sound & The Fury)

Jan Book 1 (The Sound & The Fury)

This book was both beautiful and challenging. I cannot explain how completely focused I was while reading it. William Faulkner is a genius and now I want to read another one of his books. He just has a such a way with words.

I was supposed to read this book while I was on holiday in December but I haven’t taken a holiday as yet (don’t ask). It was a lovely way to start a year of reading :)

July Book 2 (our Lady of Benoni)

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While moving from my old spot to here, I forgot to do a post on July Book 2. In June I got the opportunity to meet one of my favourite authors (Zakes Mda). He was receiving an honourary doctorate from UCT and invited Marcee and I as his guests. This was definitely one of the highlights of my year. Less than a month later, he was back in the country and invited me to the launch of his new play Our Lady of Benoni.

After all the launch excitement I sat Marcee down and read the play to her. A few days later I sat down and read by myself. Our Lady of Benoni is set in a public park in Johannesburg. The 5 characters deal with issues of patriarchy, virginity testing and faith in South Africa. The title of the book is inspired by the (true) story of Francesca Zacke; a 17yr old girl from Benoni who (in 200&) claimed to see visions of the virgin Mary.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy reading the play, but I did. Rumour has it that it might be staged at the Baxter this year. If that’s true, I will definitely be there.


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