Aimee-Claire left us at the end of April to head back to Pretoria. We are certainly missing her sunny disposition and ready smile. Full of giggles and wisdom, we thank her for her time and dedication to FunDza. She parts FunDza with this heart-felt post. Thank you, Aimee!
FAREWELL by Aimee-Claire Smith
It’s my second-last day as an intern at FunDza. As I sit at my desk in my office, surrounded by the people I have come to view almost as family, I’m overwhelmed with emotion.
The three months I spent interning at FunDza were undoubtedly the best of my life. I began, on my first day, scared, apprehensive, and uncertain that this was even what I wanted to do with my time. But FunDza quickly put all these fears and uncertainties to rest.
I worked under Zimkhitha in the Developing Young Writers programme. This means that I edited stories and essays submitted by “FunDza Fanz” – South African young people. I also compiled feedback and critique for each submission, guiding the young writers in what they could do better on, and praising them for what they did well.
I loved every moment of it. Arriving at the FunDza office every morning and sitting behind the interns desk was a joy. I myself am a writer, and have been since I was very young, so having the opportunity to be involved in nurturing young writers was very special to me. I’ve loved spending every day doing something so rewarding, meaningful, and close to my heart.
Occasionally, I went on little “excursions” where I would do a talk or reading representing FunDza at an event. In one of these, Zimkhitha and I went to a library where we spoke to a group of high-schoolers on the importance and worth of reading for pleasure. This came at a time when I was getting a little tired of editing, and the talk revitalised me as I realised that these high-schoolers were the kids whose stories I was working with – not words on a laptop screen, but real, unique individuals.
Many of the submissions FunDza receives are non-fictional, or based on true events. These often deal with very “heavy” issues such as identity, rape, and family relationships. I know from personal experience how healing writing can be, and though it saddens and upsets me that these young people have had to go through these struggles, it makes me glad that they have turned to writing as an outlet. I feel privileged to be the first to read their unique stories.
In my time at FunDza, I grew a lot as a person and as a writer. Writing has always been my passion, but in recent years I’ve “drifted away” from it. FunDza and my work there reminded me why I love it so much and why I want to centre my life around it. I also became more confident and sure of myself, and decided what to study – a decision I’ve been wrestling with for a long time.
My co-workers and colleagues at FunDza were definitely one of the influences behind these changes. Everyone at FunDza is an absolute treasure. We’re all there because we care about literacy in our country, and this combined passion for the good work that we do, creates a safe, nurturing environment that encourages the best in people.
To Zimkhitha, Veronica, Tamica, Ndibs, Mignon, Phoebe, Shelley, Nandi, Alonzo, Sonja, Thulisa, Dorothy, Ros, and everyone else – thank you. Thank you for everything – for reminding me how precious every person is and how important literacy is, for encouraging me to pursue my dreams, and for every shared conversation. I will miss all of you and the work that you do, but I will carry you all and the lessons you taught me in my heart always.