The forgotten parts of Joburg bring libraries to communities

By ^GZ – I recently joined Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) of Community Development, Nonhlanhla Sifumba and her team on a visit to Poortjie and Vlakfontein libraries in Region G. For as long as I was driving to get to the first stop in Poortjie, I thought I had left the entire province but no, I was still in Johannesburg.

There was a point where I drove and saw no buildings, no traffic lights, no houses; just a winding stretch of road and nature – it was beautiful.

My vision of how far Johannesburg stretches never went as far as Poortjie, Vlakfontein, Lenasia, Orange Farm and Zakariyya Park. These Region G communities have become forgotten areas and are seldom recognised as part of the City of Joburg, hence the visit to ensure that those parts of Region G are not only acknowledged but incorporated in the development of the City.

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This was evident during the visit as the MMC was ensuring that the community and literacy facilitators were satisfied with the services the City was bringing into their communities.

Poortjie Library for one is well taken care of and is a well-equipped library, which also has the Massive Open Online Varsity (MOOV) programme operating from the library space. The programme supported by the City teaches students how to design websites as well as equips them with skills of how to market themselves in the job space. Poortjie is where mostly farm workers lived but now the youth is growing in this area.

The Poortjie Library was started by the community and has been in existence for over 12 years. It’s seen as a space of opportunity where youngsters can go study, research and learn new things. Poortjie also has an adult skills centre that empowers men and women who did not finish school with literacy and numeracy skills.

From Poortjie we moved on to Vlakfontein, which was another long drive. We arrived at the Vlakfontein Library where children were being treated to some Easter holiday fun. We were met with Easter eggs, big smiles and great positivity from the community. The library was well equipped with hundreds of books for children to enjoy and a good space for youngsters to come and study and work on their school assignments. Unfortunately the library still does not have access to the free Joburg Wifi like Poortjie Library, but the City is looking into changing that as soon as possible.

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This visit made me realise the importance of facilities that we generally take for granted in our communities. In areas like Poortjie and Vlakfontein, adults and children of the community pride themselves with their libraries. The libraries are seen as prized possessions and as the window to vast opportunities.

When last did you visit your local library or donated a book? Lets take the time to not only recognise our local libraries but find ways to assist the facilities and use the services that they provide. Libraries are spaces where the seeds of opportunity and success can be planted. Find out more about our City libraries.

Details: http://www.joburg.org.za

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