Mobile Library Project Blog
Russell Bruns and Kelsey Aspeling
The streets of Grahamstown were empty and so were our SD cards when we left the Lower Albany. Bloemfontein awaited our arrival. We were greeted by Mr Hasunuma with a beaming smile who along with his team briefed us on the following days activities. After checking in to our Bed and Breakfast we roamed the streets of Manguang in search of pictorial bliss. We happened upon Reservoir Hill, a space that overlooks the city of Bloemfontein. There we sat for sun-downers unwinding from the long day and bracing ourselves for the next. This journey ended at an Italian restaurant (carbo-loading for the next day #obvs) which had us seated in a car park - a first for all of us. We didn't tip the waiter but paid the car guard. Breakfast the next morning was fit for a King with tummies full and energy pumping we made our way to The Windmill. Four mobile library buses filled with books were parked outside the venue. This is what its all about. And so we began the shoot. Three children sat outside in great anticipation of the events to come. Curiously picking out stories that later they would read out aloud to the audience. Other members of the press offered us large sums of money for our Sony shirts. We laughed. We made sure to got some lekker snaps of the book display as this was the focal piece in the room, and moved on to the ceremony of speeches delivered by some pretty prestigious people. The highlight of this ceremony that got audiences members laughing, crying and cheering were the stories read out aloud by children from a local rural school. All in all it was great experience for a great cause and we look forward to seeing the love of reading spread throughout the beautiful Free State.
Christiaan de Beer
Tshwane University of Technologgy
Youth on Assignment: Mobile Library Project
Waldemar Bussiahn (my lecturer), and I (Christiaan, the Photographer), first met up with Mr Tadashi “Tad” Hasunuma on the 25th of June at the "Heart to Heart" celebration breakfast. To read more about this click here. Here we were also introduced to the members of Volcano Advertising with whom Tad and I later met up with to travel together on our first journey with the mobile library to schools of Daveyton and Etwatwa. This journey was quite interesting, seeing the huge difference in the neighbouring schools. The school in Daveyton we visited where the mobile library stays at night, was quite nice with well-built structures and facilities, whereas Barcelona Primary School in Etwatwa was in a totally different state. The children are given class in temporary structures and need to make use of portable toilets. It brings me joy to see these children, although living in poverty and in such a harsh environment, that they are able to read and learn from these books the mobile library provide them with.
On my second trip, Waldemar and I met up with Tad at the Pretoria Education Library, just a stone throw away from our campus. From there we travelled to rural farm schools, the first of which was Ukukhula Primary School. This school was truly a farm school in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lush green grass and cows grazing. You could really ‘smell’ the farm.
We first met with the principal, who told us more about the history of the school. From there on we visited the children inside the classrooms who greeted us with joy and respect. Tad introduced Waldemar and myself to the kids and Waldemar spoke to them about photography and how to go about becoming a photographer. Some children showed a lot of interest in what I was doing while documenting this event. When entering the smaller children’s classroom they looked up in amazement, not really knowing what it was I had in my hands (thanks to Sony, a Sony Alpha 65). After showing them the photos I took of them on the LCD screen at the back of the camera their faces lit up, pointing and almost screaming “That’s me!”. I think these children never even had their pictures taken, therefore not knowing what a camera was. This was a wonderful experience, seeing these children so amazed and happy at what I was doing.
We then proceeded to the mobile library with the kids, everyone almost immediately picked up a book and started reading! This just shows how much these children enjoys these books and appreciate the visit.
The next day I went on my own with themobile library to visit Foxtrot Primary school and Leeuwfontein Primary school. Foxtrot Primary school was the smallest school I visited so far, but also the school that took out the most books! This shows how important they think these books are in the education of their children.
We then visited Leeuwfontein Primary School, were on arrival, the kids ran to open the gate for us in joy. One teacher also came to the bus as we were entering the school to show his gratefulness by throwing his hands in the air and saying “Thank you, thank you!”. The trip was very pleasant, seeing the joy this bus brings to so many children and teachers.
Personally, I think these mobile libraries being sent out to schools are a wonderful initiative as reading and learning from books form such a huge part in the development of these children. Thanks to Mr Tadashi Hasunuma who runs this initiative, Japan for sponsoring the busses and Sony Japan for sponsoring this initiative, who made it possible for us to document these happenings with ‘state of the art equipment’.
Author and Images: Christiaan de Beer
Youth on Assignment: Mobile Library Blog
Sarah Clegg (curriculum advisor of the Overburg district and Mobile Library supervisor), Tadishi Hasunuma (director of South African Primary Education Support Initiative), Jackie Murray (lecturer at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography), and myself arrived at Mullersrus Primary School. The staff and learners were very welcoming and more than keen to show us around. The kids were well mannered and really took pride in their class work. The tranquility and serenity of the surrounding scenery really made today an experience worth remembering.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get better than yesterday, it did. We spent most of the day at the Maxonia Primary School, in Elgin. This must be the most colorful primary school around. Frazer Baard and his staff reminded me that there are amazing teachers in this country. Their passion for knowledge rubs off on the kids, as they are really proud of their reading and writing skills. This is greatly assisted by the Overberg Mobile Library that offers the learners a selection of books to read. My favorite class was definitely the grade R class; they are too cute for words! Jackie and I both had a lump in our throats when it was time to say goodbye. We then headed off to the Elgin Learning Foundation. They offer swimming lessons, art and music classes to learners from less fortunate schools. I felt like joining in on a marimba chorus or getting covered in paint, glitter and feathers. I enjoyed today and look forward to seeing what tomorrow holds.
Today was the final day of my 3-day experience. I worked with truly inspiring people and met many kind little faces.
These three days have taught me so much more in addition to photographic skills. I have learnt about people, the landscape and the importance of education for our youth. This morning we drove along a dirt road to Jongensklip Primary School, quietly tucked away amongst green and golden hills. Principal Sirene Pienaar and her staff consisting of 5 female teachers change many children¹s lives for the better.
I would like to thank the people who made this project possible; Ania Wadsworth (World Photography Organization/Sony), Sara Clegg (Curriculum Advisor of the Overberg district /Overberg Mobile Library Supervisor), Tadashi Hasunuma (Director of the South African Primary Education Support Initiative), Jackie Murray (Photography lecturer at the Stellenbosch Academy) and also to all the teachers, mobile library bus drivers and sponsors.
I look forward to the day each South African child has the opportunity to read a book of their own.
Author and Image Credit: Laura Swart
Nina Lieska Grindlay
Youth on Assignment: Mobile Library Project
The place we stayed at was twenty kilometers outside of Bloemfontein, with the wild right at our front door. We had an open wood fire to cook our food on, and hearing lions roaring in the distance made us feel right at home.
I met up with Tadashi “Tad” Hasunuma who formerly briefed me about this exciting community engagement project. We embarked on an exhilarating visual journey, in convoy with the Mobile Library – armed with cameras, vision and purpose. The vast expanse of landscape travelled for days ahead of us, filled with graveyards stretching out towards the horizon line. We went to a number of different rural schools, whereby all the members of the community embraced us openly and willingly. The rural schools we visited were located in the middle of nowhere, found upon driving along roads made of dirt. Houses in this area were constructed in highly innovative ways, structured out of mud, baked clay bricks and corrugated iron. Despite the immense poverty in the villages, the community members invited us into their homes, taking pride on the little they do have.
I was met by hundreds of excitedly screaming kids, who mostly had never seen a camera like the Sony Alpha 65 before. This camera was generously donated by Sony together with a top-class professional video camera, four extra lenses, a flash and a spare battery – which saved the trip, as shooting in the wilderness requires more than one battery. The instant playback and rotating flip screen allowed the kids to see the images I had taken of them interacting with the library and reading the books. The video camera allowed the kids to see footage, and they loved seeing themselves and their friends dancing and playing for the camera.
Mr. Khumalo is the librarian on the bus, a gentle man who is very caring with the kids. The panels of the bus open outwards and expose the masses of books within. Inside the bus the books are comprised of study material, the outside section is purely fictional books. For some of the kids, it was the first time they had taken possession of a book, whereby anticipation and intrigue follows.
This outreach programme is a phenomenal feat. The amount of energy and coordination it takes to get a project like this running is truly unfathomable. The service they offer the kids makes way for a brighter future, where the youth have a chance at a well formed education. Tadashi “Tad” Hasunuma is the driving force of this project. He organised the cars and the collection of the books, which required his sole dedication. Mr. Khumalo drives up to one hundred kilometers per day, spreading the gift of the project far and wide.
I want to humbly thank Sony for their generosity and for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing initiative. I travelled almost seven hours to get to Bloemfontein, but the journey was more than worthwhile. I felt privileged beyond compare to be involved in this project, as interacting with the kids is unforgettable and by far the greatest experience I have had.
To learn more about the Mobile Library Project, please click here.
Author and Image Credit: Nina Lieska Grindlay