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Rain Fails To Deter Kids From Book Club Session

Rain Fails To Deter Kids From Book Club Session
Children take advantage of the Vunilagi Book Club first public reading at Albert Park July 21, 2018. Photos: Wati Talebula
July 22
11:30 2018

More than 20 children turned up at the first public reading for Vunilagi Book Club at Albert Park yesterday morning.

The club started last year with the hope of improving Fiji’s literacy rate.

Club founder Mariana Waqa said she did not know what to expect.

“I am happy with how many children turned up today. The rain did not stop the children from leaving home to be here at 9am,” she said.

“This shows the interest of these young children. Children as far as Lautoka are present here and also the children from Nadonumai and Nanuku settlement.

“We were invited by Australian-Pacific Technical College (APTC) to do our first public reading.

“Vunilagi Book Club started as an initiative to tackle illiteracy among Suva’s poorer communities. Our aim is to promote children’s literacy and strengthen book culture in Suva and beyond.

“We take good quality books into settlement areas and hold reading sessions with volunteers from different backgrounds.

“The idea for our volunteers is to use Vunilagi Book Club as a means of contributing to the grassroots of society and towards the future of Fiji.

“Reading sessions in the communities run for about one to two hours and children are encouraged to introduce themselves to the volunteers, ask questions and make comments about the books being read.

“The objective is to build on reading and comprehension skills, as well as to exercise imagination and boost confidence among children.”

Ms Waqa said Vunilagi Book Club currently targeted lower socio-economic communities throughout Suva.

“We hold reading sessions at Nanuku settlement in Vatuwaqa and Nadonumai Settlement in Lami,” she said.

“Both these communities have many unemployed youths who do not complete their education.

“There are also high levels of crime and drugs with Nanuku especially having a high level of glue-sniffing cases among very young children.

“The social issues in Nanuku are particularly troubling with violence, prostitution, arson, and manslaughter taking place in recent years.

“Living standards are also below the poverty line with many households not having access to running water, electricity, and proper sewerage in parts of the settlement.

“Children in these communities have to grow up very fast with many living in broken families or with extended family members.”

This is the reason Vunilagi specifically caters to them by providing a safe space to engage with literature and kind volunteers to read with them.

“It is not all hopeless however, as there are mothers, fathers, and extended family members who have a vested interest in their children, but do not have the necessary means and time to provide extra activities outside of school hours.”

Ms Waqa added Vunilagi Book Club recognised the dignity of all children regardless of ethnic or religious background and aimed to provide the very best stories for children in lower socio-economic communities.

Ms Waqa lived in Australia before she migrated to Fiji last year.

Edited by Epineri Vula



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