“As with any LitWorld event, the week was filled with joy”
LitWorld’s East Africa Partnership Coordinator Conference, hosted in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, was the second of its kind. It first launched in August 2017 in Colombia for seven of LitWorld’s Latin American partners. This second conference brought together Partnership Coordinators and mentors from Eastern and Southern Africa for a full week of training and learning. Partners were from: Kenya (Kenya Education Fund, Milele, and NEWI), Uganda (Art of a Child), Rwanda (Ready for Ready), and Zambia (GoYe Therefore). The conference served as an opportunity for Partnership Coordinators and Mentors to share best practices and lessons learned in their experience of running LitWorld programming.
We kicked off the week by joining Ready for Reading’s annual LitCamp. Over 200 LitClub members from Rwinkwavu and nearby Kayonza participated in the three day LitCamp which culminated in reading, writing, singing and dancing. As with any LitWorld event, the week was filled with joy! One of the highlights of the conference was to be able to meet in person. Everyone shared experiences and highlighted the unique work that they each do within and outside of their work with LitWorld. We also had the chance to visit some of Ready for Reading’s LitClubs, including a LitMoms visit led by Mentor Colette. Not only was this an opportunity for us and the conference participants to observe and participate in the LitClubs in Rwanda, but the boys, girls, and moms were amazed to learn that there are other LitClubs around the world. For them, it was a moment of belonging to the larger LitWorld family.
Another highlight of the conference was sharing various community building activities with one another. One of the favorites of the week was a song called, “Insari, Sari, Sari” created by some of the mentors at Ready for Reading. Every day, the LitWorld Programming team led trainings ranging from Creating a Collection of Stories to Goal Setting and more. For some of the conference participants, it was their first time learning about SMART goals. We even debuted LitWorld’s new and improved library training!
Sanyambe, LitWorld’s Partnership Coordinator from Zambia, shared that she made great connections with other coordinators, she now knows here colleagues, from around the region. She said she now has a pool of resources she did not previously have and she will collaborate with other Coordinators on programming and other activities. Sylvie, a mentor from Ready For Reading in Rwanda shared that the conference helped her think creatively and innovatively during her mentorship activities. Because of the conference, she has learned from other mentors and formed relationships to continue growing as a strong LitClub mentor. In follow up conversations with Partnership Coordinators, several of them have mentioned that their mentoring skills, especially the read aloud, have dramatically improved.
As a result of the Partnership Coordinator Conference, our expansive network has grown closer together. We have all learned new skills, made new friends, and deepened our connections with people who will continue to help us grow in the future. We hope that it serves as a launching pad for Partnership Coordinators to come closer together to supporting each other, not only in their work with LitWorld, but their work as professionals trying to create a stronger network of individuals who believe the power of story can change the world.
This post was authored by LitWorld team members Oriana Stern, Director of Program Operations, and Marielle Ali, Program Coordinator.