Bookmark Morning Mania!

Our second morning in South Africa was better spent than the previous, waking up with plenty of time to spare and think about the new systems we would put in place at Ramlakan. We rose to beautiful weather once again, blessed with hot sun and clear skies, this was a privilege for us, being used to the grey drizzle of the UK!

We had big plans for the day ahead, including our new bookmark scheme and library cards. As we pulled into the school, the children were standing in line to receive their one government funded meal for the day. We are told that this is the only proper sustenance some children eat all day, their families not being able to provide for all of their children. Altough Ramlakan is a state funded school, it is obvious that government input is only to cover the bare minimal.

Mrs Kaunda tells us that she tries to buy at least one or two books for the children out of her own salary. ¬†Even so, most books are so overused that their pages are falling out. We are thankful that the school has a room allocated to be the library, it is in a building with two other classrooms; the computer lab and the science room. When we arrived yesterday, both rooms were heartbreakingly empty. We are told that thIMG_1931e block was built with money donated by a successful former student, an amazing contribution, but unfortunately it has turned into something of a ‘white elephant’, the school being without adequate staffing or funds to fill the rooms. Now, with the books and the computers, we have filled two of these
rooms, finally putting them to use, expanding the school and hopefully the children’s education.

The shelves are now filled, and we have a total of 900+ books! They range from Miffy, to Children’s Brittania, DK encyclopaedias and Horrid Henry. A huge thank you to anyone who contributed, and as the project will expand in the future, anyone with books to donate can please email us (address is in the ‘contact us’ menu).

The concept of a bookmark, something so familiar and intuitive to us, was completely foreign to the learners. As each class came in for their session, we had to explain, through the translation of a teacher, what a bookmark is and how to use it. Even so, they were hesitant and marginally confused with the blank strips of paper in front of them, and we had to do a few demonstrations….

Although everyone had brought their own chewed biros, we supplied them with an array of sharpies and coloured pens. Once these were revealed, the once reserved children leaped forward to snatch their favourite colour. Names were written, footballs were drawn and some children coloured the whole thing in neon highlighters. Soon they were ready for lamination, using a newly donated laminator we had sourced earlier in the week.

The room was teaming with children running around the tables, bright bookmarks flapping in the air as they rushed to pick a book from the shelves. Each child chose the first book that they would read, which they placed their bookmark in. The book was then given to the tIMG_1934eacher who logged it in the children book log. The children book log is a box in which each student has an individual card, and the book they are reading at that time is written on it. This book is effectively ‘checked out’ although it never leaves the room, it is placed on the child’s allocated grade shelf. When the child has finished reading the book, it is ticked off on the card, and the book is put back on its original shelf.

We have now created our first library system! Please keep donating on the ‘donate’ button, and get in touch if you have any books for the future!


Posted in Recent Updates.


  1. Bella and Clara you are exceptional young women. It has been a privilege to spend the past four days with you . The impact you have made in the lives of the children of Ramlakan School is priceless and already tangible. We all witnessed the delight and wide eyed wonder on the faces of the children as they paged through the books in front of them. These children now have a place to go and be transported into a world they could only dream of . Thank you for enriching their lives !

    • Cara it was absolutely wonderful to meet you and the children, we have had the most amazing experience, and have loved every minute of it. thank you for looking after us and we hope that the children continue to love and car for the books. xx

  2. Mrs Kaunda, the teachers and children cannot believe that you feel they are worthy of such generosity. You have given these forgotten children tools to help inspire them toward a better life out of poverty.

    We will never forget your selfless commitment to uplifting those less fortunate. Because of your love of books you fully understand the benefits of reading and want to share this with others .

    Your passionate dedication to getting the job done was inspiring. From the day the first 8 boxes arrived via courier and then your arrival at the airport in Durban laden with more did! You both worked tirelessly this week labeling , stamping and writing up a log of 1000 book (and still counting) plus Planning and supervising activities daily for the children. There are no words adequate enough (as Mrs Kaunda so aptly said) to thank

    you for this incredible gift.

    You have touched the hearts of this special community and you now have a second home here in South Africa. Please visit us soon.

    Hamba Kahle

  3. What an amazing accomplishment. So happy to see how what can seem like small efforts will surely make significant differences in the life of so many. All children deserve to learn and have the tools to do so. Thank you Bella, Clara and Cara for making this all happen!

  4. Cara – such a good initiative, we chatted the other day re the venue I have in Salt Rock Sheffield area, The Place, and want to support this charity going forward. Let me know further details

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