The seed of reading is ready for harvest


Nathalie Buzeba, a 48-year-old rural mother, rarely spends a day without reading. Her attitude towards reading destroys the assumption that there is no reading culture among Burundians. Thanks to World Vision’s Reading to Learn Project that avails reading materials for children. If Burundians are not reading, this is partly because they inherit from an oral tradition but also because they lack reading materials; a situation Literacy Boost Project wants to change.

“It is not a lack of a reading culture, but a lack of reading materials.” Nathalie says smiling, holding a 10-page shell book she uses to teach Diella, her child, how to read and write.

Diella borrows books from a nearby World Vision reading camp.

Nathalie enjoys reading the books Diella brings back home from the camp. They are full of humorous and instructing stories, she says. Now, Diella knows how to read and write and she is even doing well at school; she is in the first grade. In the first trimester she was first of her class.
What motivate Natalie to read are the instructing and humorous stories in the shell books.
“I always take pleasure in reading these books because there are many interesting stories,” she laughs, opening the book she holds in her hands. The stories are new to her; she did not meet them when she was doing primary school 40 years ago. She went up to grade 6.

A story criticizing men who drink too much still makes her laugh.

“The story is about a child who once went out with mother and when they were walking, they passed nearby a brewery. Child stopped and said, this place smells like my father,” Nathalie recounts with a laugh. “That‘s one of the stories and many others especially those in which small animals are more intelligence than bigger ones, hare stories and many others.”
“I sometimes use banana leaves or use that door,” she points at a door her daughter has started writing on.

Lack of quality materials, especially drafts to use while teaching her daughter, does not prevent her from working. Diella is the first of her children she is supporting in reinforcing what she learns from school. Two others are ahead of Diella in school but they have never performed well as Diella. She was the first in her class; grade one, in the first trimester of this school year.

What was lacking to support others, were the teaching materials

“Before this project, there were no reading books. Those who were lucky were those who could have access to the small bible. And as far as I know, they were not many,” Natalie explains, pointing at a sentence she wants her daughter to read aloud.

According to Fidele, World Vision Burundi Education Specialist, the time has come for things to change. His dream is to see the Burundian new generation changing from a breed of non-readers to a breed of readers; creation of reading materials being an intermediary objective.
The seeds of reading have been sown in this community, and the harvest is starting to come in.