Youth starts thriving library – thugs den transformed
By: Bongekile Macupe
IT TROUBLED Boy Boy Shai, 24, of Bokgaga village near Tzaneen in Limpopo that there was no library in the village.
And so he decided to start one himself in the area where t here are five schools that do not have libraries.
The closest library is in Tzaneen, 30km away. But most pupils cannot afford the R14 taxi fare.
Shai asked the relatives of a man whose house had been left abandoned after his death for permission to turn it into a library.
“The house had become a headache for the village anyway. Thugs slept here, they used it to hide stolen goods, many rapes have happened here,” says Shai.
The next challenge was to get books and furniture.
“I approached local schools and asked principals to donate old books they no longer used and previous question papers. They responded positively and gave me the few that they had,” he says. It also didn’t cost him much time to convince residents to donate their old books, chairs and shelves. And soon, the library was ready to open its doors last month.
On October 21, when the library had its opening, he woke up earlier than usual.
He began to put up posters at schools, shops and taverns. But his worst fear came true.
“On the day, no one came. Only my friends came to congratulate me,” says Shai.
The following day, things took a dramatic turn.
“At around 3pm, groups of schoolchildren started coming in. It was so packed that others were standing, but everyone had a book in their hand. Some were doing their homework and others research for their assignments,” says Shai.
Shai also offered lessons to grades 10 to 12 pupils after school and taught subjects such as maths, English and accounting. He uses an old wardrobe door as a chalkboard.
Green Garden library has now become the pride and joy of Bokgaga village.
“This library has changed my life without Boy Boy knowing. I had planned to retire as a teacher in the next six years and go into business. But I have since decided that I’m going to study further and remain in the profession until I become a principal,” says Nathalie Moagi.
Pupils in the community are also elated to have a library.
“Before we had the library we used to struggle when doing research for school work. Those who had phones would Google information, but now our troubles are over thanks to Boy Boy,” says Grade 7 pupil Ralph Mmola.
Shai hopes to expand the library into an information centre and an internet cafe where people can even search for jobs online.
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