A lot of FunDza’s work is supporting our partners who are also committed to developing literacy with their beneficiaries. So we were happy to respond to Activate’s request to work with them on developing writers and publishing their stories. As Mzwandile Msimang from Activate writes, “being literate is to be human, unlike the mere notion of just the ability to read and write. Literacy is the precondition for development, it enables us to be educated, to participate in the economy, and to engage in socio-political issues. Therefore, the Activate literacy sector acknowledges the fundamental role that writing and reading play in the development of literacy, and as such we create platforms for activators to meaningfully contribute to resolving the pressing issues within the literacy sector.”

To start off with, a few months ago we published a few stories by Activators on our site, and put them together on one page you can see here.

Mzwandile then approached us with a request to run a writing workshop to help Activators to submit more stories for the collection. And – because of the times we are in – it was a virtual session. Activators from all over the country connected to work on their writing and it was exciting to see these passionate people from so many different places.

It wasn’t always easy..! There were connectivity problems, and it was hard to gauge the participation level of the participants. However, we tried… We read blogs from our site Are you dating me or my carvelas and A culture of silence as model texts. Participants experimented with freewriting, and then did an activity where they explored the senses in a ‘Show don’t tell’ writing exercise. A few shared their work, and it was clear from some pieces that the pressing challenges of their communities, such as gender-based violence, are paramount in these Activators’ minds.

Mzwandile said that he found the session ‘insightful and practical’, but was also concerned at the level of engagement of participants, as this was also very hard to gauge with all the challenges of virtual communication.

So this was an interesting experiment, where we learned a lot – and we hope our participants did too! Hopefully, they will be able to take on some of what they learned in future submissions to our Activate page.