Marleen Mortin, a teacher, climbed Mount Everest in Nepal, in 2013. She joined a group of women who were fundraising for projects working with vulnerable women and children around the world.
As she was climbing Mount Everest, she was shocked to see kids carrying heavy loads on their back walking up and down the whole day. They told her that they work every day to help sustain their families.
Marleen struggled with the idea, and started to question God, asking why life could be so unfair? She thought of her life, all the privileges she had as a child, going to school, studying at university, and knew these kids would never get an opportunity to go to even a primary school.
Marleen cried out to God and said: “What can I do God, how can I make a difference?” God said to her, ‘reading.’ She heard this word so audibly, she knew that it must be from God. When she got back home, she went to her leaders in Mamelodi, AIDS Hope team and shared her heart. She didn’t know where to start, but her leaders made it possible for her to develop and run the first Reading Holiday Club.
The Reading Holiday Club aims to motivate kids, teach basic reading skills, and affirm and motivate them to read. Go Challenge 2016, OM South Africa's annual outreach, invited Marleen to test run her curriculum in the village of Tzaneen with Sepedi and Shangane speaking people. They have over 30 kids who struggle with reading in the village.
They invited them to attend the club for seven days during school holidays. Although English is not their first language, the six to ten year-olds loved attending the program.
“When I first did this reading club, there was a boy who didn't like school because he was struggling with reading,” Marleen shared, “But after a day of holiday club, he woke his mother up at 6:00 am to go to reading holiday club. He had seen that reading is fun and that learning to read as well."
Marleen would like to see by the end of this year, the curriculum published and available to churches, schools, and parents. The material will be available to anyone. The ultimate aim of this ministry is to give children a second chance to learn reading, inspire them to start reading the Bible and follow Jesus with their whole heart. 2017