LitClubs celebrate The Day of the African Child!

“We are the future generation, called for to show his excellency. All what we require LitClub has shown me, I know who I am, I know how to read and write, sharing and viewing, I know who I am. I am walking in power, I walk in success, I live a life of reading, I am not ignorant.”

This inspiring anthem was echoed by our amazing LitClub Members during the Day of African Child Celebrations in Zambia!

This year, LitWorld’s amazing partner, GoYe Therefore Zambia (GYT), celebrated the Day of the African Child under the theme “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First”. During that week, coincidently, the LitClub members were learning about the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child and were developing their Community Bill of Rights. Therefore, this day presented a great opportunity for them to share their learnings with other kids in the schools in such an awesome celebration!

The Nyanzabili LitBoys and LitGirls made the most out of the exciting activities that were planned for the Day of the African Child celebrations!

The Nyanzabili LitBoys and LitGirls made the most out of the exciting activities that were planned for the Day of the African Child celebrations!

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the OAU Organization of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

 “The LitClub members were excited with the presentation about the Day of the African Child and sharing the Rights of the Child during the celebrations for the International Day of the Child. It was also exciting to read out the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child and know and understand what rights they had despite not knowing them well,”
said Sanyambe Mweemba, the Partnership Coordinator for GoYe, expressing her excitement on the children’s overwhelming participation on that day.

Students perform traditional dancing for the big day!

Students perform traditional dancing for the big day!

A lot of LitClubs celebrated the event through poems & songs (written by them), dances, role plays and advertising children’s rights messages with paintings on stones, walls and trash bins. About 500 children and adults attended the activities that were presented by the LitClub members and GYT. This granted LitMembers the opportunity to sensitize other children within their school environment on children’s rights including teachers and parents from the community.

Other activities included an Anthem Presentation under the theme “My comic book: Welcome to my world.” In Welcome to my World, kids were identifying the kind of world they want to live in. Many of the LitClub members’ world was within their comfort zone and within the country, while others preferred to explore the whole world and this gave them hope to know what other countries are like.

Little Grace wants to visit England some day; Christine wants a big house and a happy life in her world; Joshua wants a big mansion; Alex wants everything, and he wants to see the tallest building like the Twin Towers of America; and Aaron wants to explore new things!  - shared Sanyambe

Here’s to a future of hope, curiosity and belonging for LitKids and communities all around the world! To participate in our #SummerofStrengths campaign, head over to our social media to share your stories!

A Day in Ahmedabad - Reflections From A Partner Visit

Program Innovation Coordinator Steph Alkhatib with mentor Sajeda and LitClub members

Program Innovation Coordinator Steph Alkhatib with mentor Sajeda and LitClub members

On May 17th, 2019, Steph Alkhatib, LitWorld’s Program Innovation Coordinator, visited one of our long-time partners, the Centre for Development in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, in western India. The following are her reflections and memories of a day spent with amazing LitKids and staff of CfD.

Hold on tight for that rickshaw ride!

Hold on tight for that rickshaw ride!

On Friday morning, I arrived at the CFD office and was greeted by Komal, a recent 12-standard graduate and member of the Kadam Resource Centre for girls, as well as Meera and Prasad, the Directors of the organization and Partnership Coordinators between CFD and LitWorld.

They explained that CFD works mostly with Muslim and Dalit communities in Ahmedabad. The city’s communities are pretty segregated; there’s a history of persecution and inequality between Hindus and Muslims in the city. One side of the city is modern and predominantly owned by Bramhan Hindus (the highest Hindu caste), who won’t rent or sell to those from lower casts or Muslims. The other side is old city, rich in culture but unfortunately poor in opportunity, where most Muslim and Dalit (‘Untouchables’, the lowest Hindu caste) communities are. Meera explained that these communities tend to be very conservative; the gender disparity is huge, child marriage does exist, girl children are unwanted, don’t leave the house for extended periods of time and their education is low priority.

While Meera and I started our journey around old city via auto(rickshaw), she gave me a little background on the LitClubs. They have 16 clubs, 12 girls’ and 4 boys’ clubs. Some have been running up to 4 years, and often mentors run several clubs.

We pulled up to a neighborhood where two girls’ LitClubs were meeting in a first floor room. I also met the senior mentor Sajeda there, who joined us for the day and was very kind and helpful with translating and getting around!

The LitClubs greeted me with the Hello song! Each club sat in a circle as they worked on art projects where they used recycled materials to create objects: a bed, purse, lanterns, tiny suitcase - all made from recycled paper, cardboard and fabric. It was truly creative. I asked a few questions about their favorite activities, and something they learned from LitClub, and I heard some amazing replies. Several girls mentioned that their demeanor had changed; before LitClub, they were very withdrawn, and now they felt confident. A girl said she was very aggressive with her family before LitClub, and now she gets along with them well.

LitClub members welcome Steph with the Hello song

LitClub members welcome Steph with the Hello song

A younger girl told a story of action she took in her community after gaining courage from her LitClub. She said before LitClub, there was a problem with water access in her community. After LitClub she gained courage to get her family and community to talk to the municipality about fixing the problem.

After leaving, Meera shared that these stories are common. She’s seen remarkable change in all of the children in LitClubs over the years. Due to the repression kids experience in their homes, they often join LitClubs as either withdrawn or aggressive individuals. After some time being supported by mentors and building relationships with the other girls or boys, they begin to open up and get comfortable with themselves and others.

Proud LitClub member ❤️

Proud LitClub member ❤️

Next, we visited a LitClub in Khodi Nagar, a Dalit community. Meera mentioned that Dalit people are often treated very unfairly by other castes, like ‘less than human’. She said one of the benefits of LitClub meetings in this community is that the members learn about two Dalit advocates, helping them recognize that they, too, deserve human rights.

When talking with the children, a girl named Dimple shared that she is excited to start school this year and do well. Also, she went to her uncle’s house to motivate others to go to school as well. She likes LitClubs because they have given her courage and confidence. Go Dimple!

We left Khodi Nagar to head to Meera’s home, where she hosted us for lunch. Prasad told me about the difficulties they have in finding adequate stories for the LitClubs. Most stories available are either fables based around singular 'morals', stories translated from another language with unrelatable context, or more violent folk-tales that represent problematic gender, class, or violence norms.To address this challenge, a few years ago CFD had a retreat with the mentors, where they wrote hundreds of short stories and are now able to use those stories in LitClubs.

After lunch, we headed to Mumbai Hotel to visit a boys’ LitClub. The boys were sweet and very reserved while meeting me. We bonded about biryani though--it’s my favorite dish and during Ramadan, Muslim communities often eat it after breaking fast at night. The boys shared that they liked the ‘Stand Up for Girls’ event, where they learned that either a boy or a girl can do any household job or have any career. A boy named Rohit shared that the day before, a girl from his neighborhood had gone missing, and he and his friend went out, found her and brought her home; Meera mentioned that this sense of community was cultivated by mentorship at LitClubs.

Sharing the Check-in Question with a LitClub friend

Sharing the Check-in Question with a LitClub friend

Next, we visited a community located nearby to a massive, at least 1x1 square km trash pile hosting all of Ahmedabad’s garbage, where Meera said the kids sometimes play or collect scrap metal to sell. The community has both a boys’ and a girls’ LitClub. The girls were playing and hanging around outside while the boys’ club was going on. The boys were working on what I believe was a ‘Curiosity Commercials’ activity--they had some great illustrations!

LitClubs have created a space where the children feel comfortable asking her questions. They come to her with questions all the time. There are a lot of things children wonder about, but in more conservative communities, some subjects—such as marriage, relationships, or gender roles—are taboo to question. Parents, relatives, or friends may reject such questions, not know the answer, or give an answer that perpetuates restrictive societal norms.

I asked the group mentor, Rajini, her thoughts on LitClubs--what’s working, and anything she’d like to change. She had a powerful response: LitClubs have created a space where the children feel comfortable asking her questions. They come to her with questions all the time. There are a lot of things children wonder about, but in more conservative communities, some subjects--such as marriage, relationships, or gender roles--are taboo to question. Parents, relatives, or friends may reject such questions, not know the answer, or give an answer that perpetuates restrictive societal norms.

Children’s Day Artwork from the LitClubs

Children’s Day Artwork from the LitClubs

This narrative was very satisfying to hear for a few reasons. One, Prasad had mentioned earlier that adolescents in these communities struggle to navigate relationships; they don’t hear about or may not see healthy relationships, and often get into something unsafe or unhealthy, sometimes resulting in cheating, beating, eloping, or suicidal tendencies post-breakup. Having a receptive, open-minded adult to speak to about such topics can be life-changing for the adolescents in these communities. Secondly, since starting at LitWorld, a great concern and interest of mine has been LitWorld’s role in developing and ensuring that LitClub mentors are supporters and advocates of club members. I’ve wondered: are we offering enough training and support, what more could we do? After the success stories I heard and saw, however, I feel convinced that CFD and its mentors are doing an amazing job creating safe spaces for kids to learn, grow, and experience pure joy.

We left this community to visit 2 more LitClubs. Since it’s school break, many people were out of town, visiting their home villages 100 km away. Trupti--who also mentored the second group I visited--led the girls in some songs. This meeting was more laid back, so I asked the girls some casual questions, about their hobbies, some things they like to do outside of LitClubs and school or their job aspirations. The girls were reluctant to answer at first but after I encouraged them to think outside of their circumstances they eventually shared a few careers: scientist, social studies teacher and lots of aspiring teachers in general. Trupti asked me a few questions about the US and the gender roles there--I shared that although women have more opportunities there, there’s still wage and political representation disparities.

As I was getting ready to leave, feeling contemplative and inspired, a young LitClub member asked me, ‘if we get the chance, should we leave and travel?’. After a moment of reflection I told her that I thought that every time you visit a new place, you meet people who live and think different ways. Every new place teaches you something new about the world.

What Is In Your Heart? ❤️

Who are the people that you love? What is an important place in your heart? How do you feel when you think of them?” - just some questions asked by the California-based artist, Tina Villadolid, during the second installment of a community art installation, the Heart Map Project, at the Arab American Family Support Center in Brooklyn, NY.

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The week of June 3rd, Arab American Family Support Center (AAFSC) welcomed children, families and staff to ask and reflect on these important questions.

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The participants, children and staff of AAFSC, attended three days of workshops where they worked on visualizing and creating 3-D hearts and messages to people they love. Under the creative guidance from Tina, they answered questions like: "What is a place that you love? What can you smell, feel, see, hear or taste when you think of it?".

Places that were mentioned ranged from Queens, New York to farther away countries like Yemen and Thailand. Excitement and reflection filled the room as people recalled their favorite places and the smells, sights and sounds associated with them.

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Those sharing also chose people that are important to them and described why those loved ones are in their hearts.

Teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors’ names were placed into the colorful 3-D hearts. One participant, carefully writing down a name surrounded by small hearts, shared that it was for her brother, who was the kindest person in her life.

It was an incredible experience and opportunity for children and adults to have time to stop and think about the love in their hearts and in their community.


The AAFSC valued the positive impact of the Heart Map Project on its community so much last year that they invited me back for a second iteration this year. I have such gratitude for the opportunity to work with the same community again, as I believe that the best work reaches fruition with a “long game” approach. Processing your life through art is something that should be returned to as often as possible. The visual narrative provides an immediate, visceral experience for both the artist and the audience. It’s a way to feel seen and to see yourself in the story.
— Tina Villadolid
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The week culminated with a final installation on Friday, where the artwork of the participants was displayed in a specially designated space in the community center. Children, community members and staff had a chance to walk through the room filled with hearts and messages to those they love and representations of who they are in the world. LitWorld is proud and humbled to continue being a part of story explorations like these and cannot wait to witness more Heart Map Projects around the world!

Dominican DREAM celebrates long-time LitClubs and LitKids 🙌🏽

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The LitClubs at the DREAM Project in the Dominican Republic have been busy with graduations and end of the year celebrations! As May came to an end, LitClubs like “Fuertes Heroínas” - the “Strong Heroines” - celebrated being together for nearly a year and 7 month! The Graduation party was full of laughter, but also tears as the girls get ready to move on to the next grade, while still planning to stay connected to each other and DREAM as they get older.

One of the LitKids graduating is Lisbeth Dippiton Zaie, who was excited to share her feelings on being in a LitClub with everyone. Lisbeth shares:

I belong to a LitClub. I feel great about being in this group, because I have learned new things every day.
For example, of all the strengths, I identify with them all. My favorite is Curiosity, because with Curiosity we can discover, ask about things we don’t know, and of course learn.

Strengths I identify myself with:

-friendship: I have a lot of friends and I like to share with them.
-courage: I don’t get scared of standing in front of a lot of people and speaking
- belonging: I know I have a place and I belong to my LitClub
-hope: it’s hard for me to lose hope in myself and my peers
-curiosity: I like to ask a lot of questions and know things
— Lisbeth
Go Lisbeth! 💫

Go Lisbeth! 💫

All my favorite Strengths ❤️

All my favorite Strengths ❤️

During their graduation parties, LitKids each got to take three books home and share all their favorite memories of being in LitClubs. The older LitClub graduates were able to assist the DREAM mentors with all activities and take part in organizing the celebrations for the younger students. Many of them look forward to continuing to support DREAM programs in the future. As always, shooting stars to all! 💫

Congratulations to all readers, artists, writers and everyone creating every day!

Congratulations to all readers, artists, writers and everyone creating every day!

Celebrating Day of the Book in Nicaragua

“Books don’t just go with you, they take you where you’ve never been.”

Who is YOUR favorite book character?

Who is YOUR favorite book character?

What better excuse to open up your old favorite books or dress up as your favorite character than a Day of the Book celebration?

We wish Day of the Book was every day 💖

We wish Day of the Book was every day 💖

On April 23rd, that is exactly what the LitWorld partner organization, Fabretto, in Nicaragua did! Multiple Fabretto centers spent the day celebrating the power of reading through organized activities for children, mentors, parents and community members alike.

In Cusmapa, reading spaces were organized in the library and preschool children, older students and teachers were invited to enjoy read-alouds as well as silent readings. In other communities, LitClub members dedicated spaces to reflect on the importance of the book, promote creative writing of poems and letters dedicated to reading and even carried out a campaign to repair books in poor condition. They showed immense love and care for the books and spent long hours carefully mending books that needed a little extra care.

In the Ocotal community, the LitKids, LitMoms and mentors organized a field trip to a farm to spend time outside reading and talking!

In the Ocotal community, the LitKids, LitMoms and mentors organized a field trip to a farm to spend time outside reading and talking!

Some other incredible activities that were carried out were - a Book Fair in celebration of Book Day, a reading marathon, games like “Who can read more words per minute?” and others. Fabretto staff report that LitClub members were instrumental in leading these activities with the support of local librarians and their mentors.

According to another Fabretto mentor, it is important to note that the impact of this day was not only on the children but also had a huge effect on their parents. Motivated mothers took a leading role in the activities and vowed to continue promoting the care and importance of books and reading in their families and communities in the future. It was a beautiful day for all and a valuable reminder to the power, importance and need for reading in our daily lives. After all - you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books…. and that’s kind of the same thing! 💫

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