Ten-year-old Jemimah Chihenga is a talkative and bubbly Grade 4 learner at Addington Primary School in inner-city Durban. In her class of 45 learners, Jemimah has come to love social sciences, but still battles with maths, particularly long division. Her teacher, Ms Mkhize, comes early in the morning before class to help Jemimah and other students with their maths. This year, Jemimah reached Position 3 in her class; however, her academic achievements have been part of a longer journey that began four years ago.
In Grade 1, Jemimah was referred to CAST’s Wordworks Early Literacy Programme at Addington Primary. Originally from the DR Congo, Jemimah’s family speaks primarily Swahili at home. Learning in a second language proved challenging for Jemimah, and she needed the extra support at Wordworks to help her develop the foundational English reading and writing skills needed to understand and complete her schoolwork.
She was paired with a volunteer who used games and activities to teach Jemimah phonics and spelling words. Thanks to this individual attention, Jemimah was able to graduate from the Wordworks programme, confident in her reading and writing skills.
More recently, Jemimah joined CAST’s ‘Give Your Brain a Hand’ creative arts programme at Addington Primary. This programme supports development of the ‘right-brain’ through dance, needlework, speech & drama, and arts & crafts. Jemimah particularly enjoys needlework, and has learned how to do basic stitching and embroidery. So far, she has made a pin cushion, small handbag, jersey, apron and doll’s dress. One day, she hopes to make a red tablecloth for her mother.
Jemimah would like to become a teacher when she’s older; however, her parents have encouraged her to pursue medicine. Jemimah hopes to merge these two desires through helping people who have cancer or are HIV-positive.
During the July holidays this year, Jemimah also had the chance to attend CAST’s ‘Crowned’ Addington Holiday Club where she learned how to be royalty (including how to do royal bows) and to be grateful to God for protecting her family.
Jemimah’s father was part of starting the Evangelical Miracle Centre on Smith Street. On the weekends, Jemimah is proud to sing in the choir at her dad’s church. She also participates in a Friday Bible study at Addington Primary with 38 other children.
CAST believes that in order to empower families and communities, we must rescue the cognitive potential of every child in every community where we partner through academic, creative arts and spiritual development programmes. By reaching learners like Jemimah at the foundational phase, CAST is able to build the groundwork for academic success through developing reading and writing skills. To learn more about how you can volunteer and support the Wordworks Early Literacy Programme, contact CAST at: 031 266 8830 or email@example.com