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Children’s Book Network (CBN) in a nutshell: FAQ

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A summary of what we do and how we do it.

Where did we come from?

• CBN started in 2012 working with Red Hill informal settlement
• Founders Gcina Mhlophe, Lesley Beake and Sindiwe Magona
• Four years working with children in Cederberg region

Where are we now?

• Expanding. We now work in the Overstrand area and have just begin exciting satellite programmes in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.
• We still maintain contact with Red Hill through reading activist Buyiswa Ponti.
• We work with communities, not with schools and our workshops are at weekends and in school holidays.

What children do we reach?

• We work with children between the ages of 9 and 12 – children who can read, but don’t.
• They WANT to read – that’s why they choose to attend our workshops.
• They come from under-resourced communities.
• They self-select by bringing a signed permission form from home.
• We work in English with translators always available.

Who are we?

• Our Patron is world-famous storyteller and writer Gcina Mhlophe.
• We have an amazing board and, additionally, an advisory support group.
• We have enjoyed incredible support from Rotary both internationally and locally.
• Our Director, Lesley Beake, dreams up the new ideas.
• Our colleagues, Janine van Rooi (Blaq Pearl), Primrose Mrwebi, and others implement them.
• Our amazing admin person, Chantel Oosthuysen keeps the show on the road.
• Our newly appointed fund-raiser toils at that mammoth task.
• An incredible group of creative supporters adds value to our workshops and provides a constant stream of ideas.

Are we registered with authorities?

• Our Trust is registered with the Master of the Supreme Court.
• We are a registered NPO.
• We are registered with SARS.
• Our bank account is with FNB.

Who funds us?

• We have been fortunate in our friends. Our first year was supported by interested and concerned people who saw the need for our work, including librarians and others in Sweden.
• We were then encouraged by funding from Rotary Skelleftea in northern Sweden (four Rotary clubs), by support and funding from Rotary Cape of Good Hope and Rotary Newlands, and by private donations from South Africa, America, UK and Europe.
• Currently we are funded by National Lotteries and by a generous family trust in Cape Town as well as private donations.

Community involvement

• We rely on volunteers from the communities we work with.
• We are given access to community venues and recruit paid helpers for workshops and catering from there too.

What do we do?

• Our primary focus in the beginning was workshops aimed at encouraging reading. These could be between one day to as much as four days in school holidays.
• The knowledge and experience we gained during workshops has been condensed into The Toolbox Project.
• Toolboxes enable us to provide facilitators with books, ideas, inspiration and equipment to hold workshops in other venues.
• Roll-out of this exciting development has begun and will hugely increase the number of children reached by CBN.

Plan for the future

• The toolboxes give us the potential to spread the word that reading is exciting, reading is fun … reading is cool!
• Three donated prototype toolboxes have already been distributed.
• We are working on improving and expanding on the concepts developed there.
• Our outreach projects in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha offer the chance to polish and improve this project even further.
• During 2018, we will be working to make this project even bigger and more effective – to reach more children.

Books to children – children to Books