By Refilwehape Mofokeng

There is a lot that we gain through running the reading group session workshop with our Family beneficiary groups and much we can take away from the experience. For example, we value the human connection we develop with our FunDza Family as it’s a great way to get to know them better and to understand the challenges they face. We get to be in their shoes as facilitators. The following is a reflection of two reading group sessions we had: one with Uphawu Community Development and the other with Marang a Letsatsi. For both groups it was the first time that we had interacted on a face-to-face basis with the groups.

The first reading group session was with Uphawu Community Development on 5 October. We met at Engen Fresh Stop Conference room, Airport Industria. The reading group session comprised of students between the ages 13 and 20 years and Sisi Mondeka, the Uphawu Community Development facilitator, who was present to learn how the reading group sessions can be run.

We started by getting to know the learners with everyone introducing themselves through a bio poem. Through the poem, we hear of the learners’ dreams, hopes and fears. It was amazing to discover the different dreams they had: some dreamt of being in the arts, and others of becoming musicians.

Then we read the blog post ‘Are you dating me or my carvelas’, which elicited a huge amount of discussion and we got lots of different viewpoints from the students. The blog post posits the question of whether we date or love certain people because of their material possessions. The students revealed that one of the problems of loving someone because of their materialistic possessions is that sometimes the person might be broke as a result – because they can’t keep up maintaining that lifestyle. One of the powerful points they raised was how this can lead to depression, crime or even suicide.

Sisi Mondeka was amazed that the students came up with many insightful thoughts. Nandi, who was running the session, said that it was important to allow the learners to discuss and come up with their own conclusions, rather than leading them on or giving them the points that you feel are important.

Lastly, we took the students on a tour of the site. This inspired some of the aspirant writers in the room to get writing and send their work in to be published in the Fanz section!

We had another amazing session Kuyasa, Khayelitsha, with Marang a Letsatsi. The venue here was at the Assemblies of God Church, Kuyasa. At this session the group comprised of adults who were reading group facilitators and who were interested in finding out how to run the group sessions themselves.

We again started with the bio poems. This is such a good way to get to know one another. And, then we also did the blog ‘Are you dating me or my carvelas’, followed by by a think pair and share exercise.

What we could take away from the workshop was how the facilitators had a chance to be in the shoes of their students, and for them to understand some of the challenges of trying to fit in. They noted that this was a common challenge for the young face they reach. To end the session we went through the site and they said that they would encourage their learners to take an interest in reading on it, and in writing for it too.