Facebook Twitter

Saring the gift of literacy

SHARE Saring the gift of literacy

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Children in a primary school here are increasing their literacy skills because of the efforts of missionaries in the Africa Southeast Area. These efforts — which have included members in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah donating 3,700 books and a sister missionary giving ongoing literacy lessons — even prompted school officials to adopt the theme, "Literacy for Life" for the next year.

A formal "thank you" was given the missionaries Nov. 6 when a special school assembly honored the Church for its contributions. All 1,200 students clapped in unison as the guests were ushered to their seats of honor. Attending the event were Sister Phyllis Snow, wife of Elder Steven E. Snow, second counselor in the area presidency; Elder Clifford Harman and Sister Betty Harman, humanitarian service missionaries who headed the book donation project; Elder Kenneth Sorenson and Sister Connie Sorenson and Elder Gerald W. Jensen and Sister Carolyn Jensen, public affairs missionaries.

In correspondence to the Church News, Elder Jensen wrote that Church representatives at the assembly were touched by the appreciation shown for the efforts toward the children's education.

The literacy project for Dowling School began last year when Elder and Sister Harman began serving a humanitarian mission in South Africa. They soon met a Reverend Adams of Westbury, a part of Johannesburg, who introduced them to the school's principal. The need for books at the school was apparent. There were only four books in the library built by parents of students.

Soon, Sister Harman's daughter, Kelly Remund, of Albuquerque, N.M., involved local students and teachers in collecting books to be sent to the Church's Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City. Elder and Sister Harman's home stake, the Riverton Utah Summer Hills Stake, was also involved. In addition, Matthew Jensen of Highlands Ranch, Colo., who is the grandson of Elder and Sister Jensen, collected 80 pounds of primary school books for his Eagle Scout project. One thousand school kits were gathered, and young women of the Orem Utah Timpview Stake made colored and laminated reading and math games for the school.

The shipment from the Church's Humanitarian Center arrived in October. The shipment included school furniture, black and white boards, 20 used computers and five palettes of school kits; the remainder of the container was filled with the collected books. Included were some books and equipment for two other schools, A Humana People-to-People project in Doornkop and a little school near Springs, South Africa, called Dolo-ed.

Sister Sorenson, who is an expert on English literacy, arranged to teach the children and teachers of the Dowling primary school once a week. Using the newly acquired books, many of the students who were thought to be "unteachable" are learning to read.

Referring to the overall literacy efforts, Elder Jensen wrote, "Sister Sorenson reported one of the teachers said that this was the most important gift the school could ever receive."