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Nonprofit Photography: Shine Literacy

Nonprofit Photography: Shine Literacy

In South Africa, many children don’t have access to good education, and illiteracy is a consequent issues. Addressing this problem, Shine Literacya Cape Town based nonprofit organisation, provides reading classes to kids who in underprivileged communities. Photographer Eveline Gerritsen recently volunteered her time to photograph a couple of these sessions. – Text by Wantong Liu, images by Eveline Gerritsen

“We say these children are ‘at risk’ because now they are struggling with reading and writing, which means that two or three years from now they will struggle to learn because they can’t read,” explains Said Pumza Marubelela, communication manager of Shine Literacy, on our way to the first Shine Centre we were going to visit, at St Agnes Primary School. “Eventually if they don’t learn to read they may drop out of school. In South Africa you can’t get a decent job with decent pay if you are illiterate.” 

Shine Centres

Shine Literacy Hour Programme starts at 9:30 am everyday from Monday to Thursday at St Agnes. Kids participating in the program leave their classrooms and go to the Shine Centre, where they will spent an hour with volunteers, learning English. At Prestwich Street Primary School, where another Shine Centre is located, Shine Hour starts at 11:30. Both of the centres are more than 10 years old, and years of experience is incorporated into the teaching, making these well-run operations. 

The hour of teaching is divided into four sections, covering reading, writing, word games, and “shared reading,” when volunteers read a book above the kids’ current reading level, so that they improve vocabulary by listening to the stories. The Shine Centres are fully stocked with children’s books of various levels, some of which are available for children to take home so that they can continue to practise.  

Kids and Volunteers

To ensure participating children do not fall behind their peers, at the same time of the Shine Literacy Hour Programme, the school arrange for their teaching activities to match what is going on inside the Shine Centres. The children’s progress is carefully monitored during regular assessments. 

Apart from the teaching content, the training of volunteers is also very structured. Because Shine Literacy wants to form more consistent, long-term relation between the kids and their tutors, they let the volunteers come every week, tutoring the same child for the whole year. And the volunteers do a great job of making the work fun; one volunteer drew a picture with sun, cat, ball and flowers for her student to fill in the words. Another read with a little girl the story of the first female astronaut. The space is filled with encouraging words, high fives, and smiles. 

Get Involved

You can get involved with Shine Literacy by

  • offering cash donations

  • donating children’s books

  • becoming a volunteer at Shine Centres

For more information, please visit their website: To see more of Eveline’s nonprofit photography work, check out our blog on Projekt Ubuntu!


If you are keen to become a humanitarian photographer and bring positive change to the society, check out our Non Profit Photography Volunteer Program in Cape Town!

Follow us on Instagram Penda Trust to learn about our new photography projects.

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