Reading among the youth was in sharp focus yesterday  with numerous reading events staged across the Cape as part of International Literact Day.

The Mustadafin Foundation in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, also showcased the power of reading.

Their main mission is teaching illiterate kids to read and write.

” The Mustadafin Foundation firmly believes that literacy and education is the cornerstone in builiding a positive future” Said Ghairunisa Johnstone-Cassiem, its energetic director.

The Foundation members, the children and their parents were the starts of the show for the event in the Tafelsig Library. ” Because it’s Literacy Day, and because they couldn’t read, this event was to showcase what they learned” Said Johnstone-Cassiem.

The theme for the event was described simply as “The power of reading“. The children, between the ages of nine and 14, could not even identify any letters at the start of the year.

Yesterday they counted to 100, were able to recite the alphabet and could read aloud to the audience.

And every child got a little something to commemorate his or her achievement : a gold start on the forehead.

The children involved in the foundation’s literacy programme are all from the Tafelsig area and before joining the programme, they were not enrolled in any school. The programme  teaches them basic literacy and numeracy and works on the same schedule as a regular school. There are classes every week day and  the youngsters also get to enjoy holidays when normal schools are on a break. According to  Johnstone-Cassiem, many of them were undernouriched or malnouriched when they began . The foundation now gives them three meals every day. The social worker at the foundation ,Munneb Martin,told Weekend Argus:”It’s difficult living in Tafelsig, because once they come home from school, they often come back to those situations, those vulnerabilities. So we want to remove that vulnerabilities“. Martin said classes were held in a small house that was remodelled to resemble a classroom. “We’ve got about 50 of these kids in the space ,which isn’t really learning conducive , but we do our best , and even more than that” he said.