AYANDA PARAFINI is a 27 year old womxn who identifies as she/her, a mother to a beautiful 3-year-old baby boy and a super passionate early childhood literacy advocate. In her own words, “she is currently the chief librarian” where she facilitates the daily activities and running of the community library for both Axium beneficiaries and local members of the community.
Ayanda’s interest in children’s literature stems from her experience of working as a Therapy Translator in the paediatric ward at Zithulele Hospital. In addition to doing translation work for her assigned Occupational Therapists, Ayanda would visit and read stories to children in the wards. One of the OTs witnessed Ayanda’s enthusiasm and vigour in reading with children. The OT then organised a reading and literacy workshop with Nal’ibali - a literacy organisation which works closely with Axium. And just like that, Ayanda’s love for reading and teaching children how to read became a dream come true.
Ever heard of “curiosity killed a cat”? That is how Ayanda believes she found herself in the literacy space. “As someone who grew up in a house with little to no exposure to books, I did not know I would be someone who will love reading, more especially for children.” This reality inspired Ayanda to develop a program called Library Stars where she and the team select 15 children who attend activities offered by the library more often than others to take part in Library Stars. The aim of Library Stars is to encourage children to create their own
library box using recyclable materials in their own environments. For example, these 15 children collect materials at the recycling centre, which is local to our Zithulele village. Upon collection, they create arts and crafts on how they envisage their own library corners at home, where they are encouraged to promote reading for other children and family members. The books are usually donated by Book Dash, Biblionef and individuals all around the world. This then “exposes our children to worldly perspectives instead of contexts within our rural communities. If our children see books everyday, everywhere - we definitely know they will be encouraged to pick up that book and read, others have gone as far as writing their own” , said Ayanda.
Ayanda believes that “having confidence, even if you don't see yourself doing something, then you know that is the start of believing in your dreams”. This is all the more reason why Ayanda firmly believes that having a work environment that enables you to learn, take up space and engage with different people is important for growth and Axium Education has absolutely done that for her.