Children of Fire started South Africa's first squatter camp library
because education provides the long term solution to a vast number of the
country's problems, including safety and health. In August 2001 it had more
than 900 books and a large number of magazines as well. Most books were donated
and second-hand. While there were a mish mash of titles - from Mills and Boon
romances to rather Eurocentric children's nursery rhyme books, the library is
much appreciated by residents of the Joe Slovo squatter camp. One Sunday in mid
June 2001 we had 73 children and a few adults crammed into the creche-shack to
enjoy reading. Some 20-30 year old Eagle annuals are thoroughly enjoyed by
young boys in particular.
Following the fires at Joe Slovo squatter camp on 15 July 2001 and 28
July 2001, people who had to shelter in the creche until their shacks were
rebuilt, also started to take an interest in the library.
Books that are most needed are ones that explain how the human body
works, Afrocentric storybooks, dictionaries and easy reading for adults. But
absolutely anything helps.
They can be posted to Children of Fire, P.O. Box 1048, Auckland Park
2006, Gauteng Province, RSA, but they must contain a customs' declaration to
state the books are second-hand, for a charity, and have no commercial value as
we have no budget to pay often inaccurately-applied excessive customs duty in
Some of the most pertinent titles for children currently in the library
included The Flying Elephant, Nombu's Dream, The Plastic Throne and Hero of the
Hills. They are all part of the Living Health Series which deals with topics
like recycling waste, safe places to play, road safety, mobile clinics and
building latrines. Despite worthy lessons, the stories are very readable and
have good fact files at the back - though no South African addresses. We have
five copies of each title, donated by publishers Macmillan, but consider the
books so good that we'd really like 100 copies of each of the existing titles
and any more that follow in years to come.
For little or large donations that have helped the library to date we
thank Chris Partridge (UK), Nicholas Comfort (UK), Children of Wivenhoe (UK),
Northcliffe Lions, Rosebank Rotary, Ithemba! Publishing, Mistry's Furniture,
the Hellenic Youth of South Africa; Janet Abrahamovitch; Investec Cradle Group
and Books Galore.