Two staff members of the Embassy of Sweden have inspired children aged between 5 to 16 years old from Philips Farm and its adjacent communities in rural Monsterrado County to become lifelong readers and learners while serving as Guest Readers for the Reading Enrichment Program instituted by Youth Exploring Solutions, an accredited, passionate and voluntary grassroots youth-led development organization.
Helen Harris and Regina Svanberg who served as Guest Readers gave vivid description of Sweden to the young audience, stressed the relationship that exist between the two countries and recounted similarities and contrasts of both nations in terms of people, form of government, education, climatic conditions, geography, demography among other essential subject matters. The Guest Readers emphasized that reading educates, engages and empowers people in any society to make informed decisions and smart choices about their communities, nation and the world at large. They also pointed out that reading enlightens and broadens the minds of people to become aware of various issues, improves their reasoning ability and fosters peaceful coexistence. Helen and Regina noted that it is a very common for Swedish family to read a story book to kid before they go to bed. They urged young Liberians to cultivate the culture of reading irrespective of social status or religion confessed or dialect spoken or location in the country or sound of their last name. The inspiring Guest Readers read translated Swedish related storybooks to enthusiastic children seated in circle arranged according to ages and level in grade school. Regina Svanberg an intern at the Embassy of Sweden read aloud two of her favorite childhood storybooks. Youthful Regina also sat on the floor and instructed the kids to read after her. One of the storybooks titled “Lola at the Library” was about a young girl called Lola who always accompanied her mother to the public library to learn how to read. Lola felt affection for storybooks that contained animals and shoes. With brilliant illustration, the young Liberian readers gained interest in the story of Lola and they read aloud after Regina. Many of the students even practiced reading the storybook on their own. “I am very inspired reading about young Lola visitation to a public library and being taught by her mother; since my parents are unable to read and write, I will appeal to my oldest brother to teach me how to read. I will also make it my duty to attend this reading program every Saturday morning” Theresa Togbah stated. Helen taught the children in the upper classes about major components of a story and read a few chapters of an adventure novel. Under her tutelage, she also introduced to the young readers to learn how to play puzzle game. “This is the very first time, I have ever seem a puzzle game let alone learn how to play puzzle with a great tutor who have inspired us to become skilled, confident, enthusiastic and independent readers” Kropo Flomo asserted. The Guest Readers thanked Youth Exploring Solutions and volunteers of the Reading Center situated in Philips Farm that usually host appropriately 75 kids in and around Philips Farm community on the highway that leads to Kakata City and beyond. Speaking earlier, Jallah Flomo, Coordinator of the Reading Center in Philips Farm revealed that the Reading Enrichment Program is geared towards developing a new breed of lifelong readers and learners that would transform Liberia to become better than what it is now. “We provide free reading classes for in-school and out-of-school children every Saturday and during vacation from Monday to Friday. Professional and experienced teachers lead our program and help children double their reading speed and learn from teaching techniques such as syllables recognition, phonemic awareness, phonics, mental processing speed, auditory discrimination, working memory, and listening and communication skills’’ the Reading Center Coordinator of Youth Exploring Solutions noted. Reading Enrichment Program is a flagship program of Youth Exploring Solutions designed to address the education and social needs of vulnerable and underprivileged Liberian children aged between 5 to 16 years old to have access to books and discover the joy and value of reading as well as equip children with a firm foundation in reading that will support them well in any future occupation they may choose. For five year now, a group of determined, dedicated and devoted volunteers as well as professional, passionate and educated teachers put aside greed for stipends and everything else and began nurturing the culture of reading among children.