Rwandan artist, Tom Close coaches Primary School Children on story writing.
Save the Children Rwanda organized a story-writing workshop last week Tuesday, the 15th of September 2015, for children between 7-12years at the Kacyiru Public Library. The workshop was organized by Save the Children as part of the ‘Rwanda Reads’ program to promote literacy among children of primary school going age and was facilitated by Dr. Thomas Muyombo who is commonly known by his stage name Tom Close. Tom Close, who is a medical doctor and renowned Rwandan singer, also happens to be an illustrator, and author of children’s books – something most people are not aware of. Some of his published children’s books include “Inka Yange, Gapapayi and “Nkunda u Rwanda” and “Inkomoko y’ubwanwa N’inzara” among others.
The workshop was attended by 20 children from different primary schools including Imena, Kacyiru Islamic and Kacyiru I primary schools. It was organized in line with the goals of Save the Children’s Education Signature program of “Advancing the right to read in Rwanda” and as part of MINEDUC’s Rwanda Reads Initiative’s events to promote literacy among children. Rwanda Reads Initiative is spear heading a 30 days Literacy Campaign in Rwanda throughout the month of September.
The session started with Tom sharing how he got the idea of writing for children, explaining that he naturally has a passion for writing. He encouraged children to adopt and develop a reading culture while they are still young. He also reminded the children that one cannot write well without reading as the two complement each other, adding that one cannot perfect writing without making a move to start writing. Tom Close encouraged the children that if they cannot express their thoughts in words, they could make use of drawings or illustrations.
“Anybody can be a writer. You don’t need to copy someone else’s ideas”. Tom Close emphasized, encouraging the little ones to always endeavor to use original ideas instead of copying other people’s ideas.
During the session, all the children had a chance to create and share their stories in both words and illustrations. Children wrote stories ranging fromactivities they are passionate about to stories originating from their creative composition.
The best three story writers were given a gift of a new children’s book each. The best writer of the day was 8-year old Shema Gabriel Mugisha from Kacyiru Islamic School. His story was judged best because it had all the characteristics of a good story including central characters, conflict and resolution as Tom Close had instructed them.
In his closing remarks, Tom Close urged the children to keep in mind that the writer’s age is not a determining factor for someone to be a good writer as evidenced from the winning story writers. Both the young and old can equally express themselves in writing as long as they are passionate about it. .
He urged that similar workshops should be implemented in schools out of Kigali so that the children in rural schools also get the opportunity to develop their writing skills. He also emphasized to the children that they shouldn’t consider reading as a punishment for them but as something fun, a hobby and a way of relaxing. The children were also encouraged to join book clubs within their neighborhoods so that they can improve their reading skills and thinking.
For 9year old Becky Ngamijishimwe, of Imena School in Kacyiru, the session helped her to learn how she can express herself through both writing and illustrating. She also said that she has been motivated to read more books.
To wrap up the session, Caroline Dusabe, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Program Manager, at Save the Children International, Rwanda urged the children to continue writing and reading even after the workshop. She told them that in order to make good writers like Tom Close, they have to practice and love writing. She also encouraged them to always share the stories they have written with their peers, elders or teachers for feedback.
Save the Children Rwanda is committed to improve the reading skills of all children in different schools, raise literacy levels across the country; as evidenced in the various literacy promotion activities such as Reading festivals and mass awareness raising going on in different parts of the country during the Literacy month.