Memories – the STUFF of our stories!


khwattu13The door of the little museum shop at Khwa ttu was closed. The rippled glass pane in the antique double doors confirmed there were people inside. I turned the handle and the door opened to quiet conversations inside.

As if scripted, the lady behind the counter and I exchanged glances and time melted.…the look on her face mirrored mine. Oh, how good is that warm feeling of seeing someone you have so enjoyed in times past. Memories are real! They breathe life into those moments when we touch the past, paging through history to the sentence, the paragraph, the story.

Wrapping each other in hugs and smiles, we revisited the little class of preschoolers at Khwa ttu, of which her child was one. Four years earlier I wandered into the facility intrigued by the call of the billboard on the highway – San Cultural and Educational Center.  The story of man, specifically the bushman of South Africa, was compelling.

Khwa ttu was the beginning! A little class of children two to three years old and their hopeful moms was such a treat. The tiny facility, the little shaded play area, the magnificent view of the Atlantic, the willing minds and eager hearts imprinted my world forever. Visit after visit I came to train or teach, as they wanted. Then, the government closed the bit of heaven. Reasons are of little importance. I had lost my heart.

Nonetheless, each trip to South Africa I made my way up the long entry road to Khwa ttu in hopes of seeing the children, hearing the laughter behind the two neatly aligned stick windbreaks. I would ask for the families I had gotten to know. Fewer and fewer of them were at the center.  Finally there were none left that I knew.

But still I returned, hoping for an encounter with the past. This time the past was there to meet me, confirming that the time given in that little class had made a difference for a family and their child. The child is 7 now and loves to read. That is the gift.

Memories are powerful, especially when they meet head on with the present. They are the stuff of our stories…our lives!


Rotary Appeal: Children are Waiting!

It began here! Now, progress compels an appeal to the corporate world in South Africa!  

Implementing Sounsbw

The SOUNS programme focuses on pre-school literacy readiness which is the foundation of subsequent academic success. The SOUNS programme was originally introduced in RSA in the Knysna area, but a parallel project started in the Gauteng province in February 2011. This programme has to date reached over 8500 children in 97 crèche and school locations. The success of the programme is illustrated by the speed with which pupils gain letter-sound knowledge, build words, and subsequently, read words. It is also illustrated by the enthusiasm with which teachers and children embrace the programme. This enthusiasm has allowed the RCPE to combine with many partners in expanding the programme. Organisations involved already include The South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, The Khanimamba Training and Resource Centre, many regional crèche forums, The University of Pretoria student outreach programme and the UP Business Unit, The American Peace Corps through their volunteers, and finally, several primary schools with the support of the Gauteng Educational Department. The programme has reached pupils mainly in the Mamelodi area, but many satellite centres in the Limpopo and Kwa- Zulu Natal provinces are springing up.

The original project planned to place sets in150 classroom locations. This project is now reaching conclusion with to date 178 sets in the field. The RCPE is seeking further funds from Rotary International to initiate a phase 2 project that will fund a further 250 sets and reach potentially a cohort of 10 000 pupils per annum.

SOUNS has the potential to make a significant contribution to advance the literacy skills of future South African children country wide. By targeting pre-school children, the skills will then impact throughout the child’s life, cascading on many aspects of learning. Many systems are in place for this to happen.

• The SOUNS programme has repeatedly proved that it is effective. • The communities already exposed to the programme realise its effectiveness and are keen to embrace the programme.

• Pilot programmes have allowed an effective operating procedure to be developed.

• Contacts have been made that will allow a rapid expansion of the programme.

• Support structures to allow this rapid expansion exist but will need to be refined to allow a significant up-scaling of the programme.

Such a programme will have to limit its scope by selecting an area to concentrate its efforts. The benefits that will accrue from such a policy are that educational departments can be introduced to the programme and the early development of literacy skills. It might sound idealistic, but the future was never changed without a vision. The vision here is to give universal opportunity to South African pre-school children to SOUNS so that the future generations of South African children can become literate and enter the formal educational structures equipped to capitalise on the learning experiences that they deserve. The Rotary family seeks a partner in that vision.


To see the entire appeal…please open this pdf file.

CSI appeal jan 12 version-1

Final Results – A Year Later In SA


The SOUNS Literacy Programme was first introduced (through a grant from  Rotary International) into preschool classes in 2010, and a relatively small number of preschool learners in the Knysna area were taught according to the correct SOUNS methodology.

Since January 2012, thanks to a further grant from DG Murray Trust, all classes at 22 Knysna Education Trust preschools had the benefit of receiving SOUNS kits, teachers in the field were trained to present the programme in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English as required. Volunteers were trained to monitor progress in the preschools and the learners’ progress was tracked by teachers and volunteers who reported back to KET regularly. Staff at KET was able to present the programme in both Afrikaans and Xhosa, which are the usual community languages of the Western Cape.


During the month of June 2012 [mid-school year in SA], Grade 1 teachers indicated that learners who had been on the SOUNS programme the previous year were performing well in Grade 1 literacy, with performance indicators well above national and provincial averages. Teachers reported the following levels for learners who had previously learnt SOUNS at preschools: 53% good – excellent, 30% average – satisfactory, and 16% weak.

For the entire evaluation of preschools, please click here:

Nov12- NEW SOUNS LITERACY SURVEY November 2012 (2) (then click again)

It Began With Rotary! Now Look!

This literacy effort began with a Rotary Matching Grant between RD6900 and RD9350. The lead Rotary clubs were RC Peachtree City (USA) and RC Sea Point (South Africa).  Now look! SounsAfrica has grown legs of its own!!

The following is an email with a powerful attachment from Knysna Education Trust in South Africa. KET is the source for Souns in South Africa for all activities outside of Rotary projects. They are really making a difference for literacy.

I thought you may be interested in the survey that I collated in June this year.  We are very pleased with the results that it shows.  I need to do another one for DG Murray Trust mid-September.  It is a lot of work and effort by many stakeholders to come out with this summary, but it tells us what we want to know.

The results in the 5 primary schools in the Knysna townships, where our preschool learners move on to, are also much better this year, which is the first year that Grade 1 results are able to be measured since starting the programme in the preschools.  The school management team of the Western Cape Education Department have told me that those 5 schools are much better this year.

Lesley S.   / Knysna Education Trust