The true reward of volunteering
5 December, 2016
Today marks the celebration of International Volunteer Day, commemorating the millions of volunteers around the world who give up their time to help others. Here at help2read, our work would not be possible without the incredible men and women that volunteer their time as Reading Helpers. They are dedicated and passionate, and they are making waves tackling illiteracy among primary school learners in South Africa.
One of the obstacles that many of South Africa’s young learners face is a lack of individual, one-on-one attention. Many schools are overcrowded and under-resourced, forcing learners to compete for a teacher’s attention in the classroom. Because of this, children don’t receive the individual attention they desperately need. Struggling readers get left behind in class, developing insecurities around their reading ability and a general dislike for reading altogether. What’s more, their constant battle with reading leaves children with a sense of failure, resulting in low self-esteem and little confidence.
Thankfully, our Volunteer Reading Helpers are there to support children in schools across the Western Cape and Gauteng and soon in other provinces as well. “Most of the children have no confidence, and that is the first thing we have to work on” explains Sharon Fillies, a Volunteer Reading Helper at Primrose Park Primary. Sharon joined help2read in 2009, and for the past seven years, she has helped countless struggling readers to not only learn to read, but to fall in love with it.
Through one-on-one sessions with learners, Sharon has seen the life-changing impact she can have on a child’s life, and the payback is priceless. “I guess the true reward is to see how they progress. Taking it one step at a time and watching how the different activities change the way they feel about reading” she explains. “After seven years on the programme, I’ve never regretted my decision. help2read is a great platform to be a great influence in someone’s life.”
Not only do learners reap the benefits of the one-on-one reading support, our volunteers do too. “Being a volunteer for help2read has also changed my life for the better”, explained Sharon. “I have built great relationships with both teachers and learners. After four years volunteering at the school, I was offered a job as an assistant teacher. I get my hour every day to do my reading sessions, and the school allows me to attend help2read workshops. How cool is that.”
Sharon and our team of Volunteer Reading Helpers just like her, are true everyday heroes. We can’t thank them enough for their dedication and commitment to changing lives through literacy.
If you’d like to become a Reading Helper and give back to your community, get in touch with us on +27 21 930 3669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registered Non-Profit 063-979 PBO 930027054 UK Charity Reg No. 1109567