Former pharmacist runs children's library out of shipping container

2017-01-04 13:16
Muzi Nkosi who runs a small library for children in Cosmo City. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Muzi Nkosi who runs a small library for children in Cosmo City. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Johannesburg – Muzi Nkosi, who runs a small library for children in Cosmo City near Honeydew, Johannesburg, says the only way to overcome problems in the area is to give residents a chance at a better future.

Nkosi has been running the library since April 2015 and has collected more than 5 000 books for children, which are kept in a red shipping container. 

"The experience has been fulfilling. It makes me happy that we are starting them young," Nkosi tells News24 with a beaming smile. 

Born and bred in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, the soft spoken Nkosi said he grew up as an orphan and wanted to make a difference to children’s lives. 

"I realised that in Cosmo City we don’t have a clinic, so I went to the municipality and registered a non-profit organisation and also applied for a piece of land which the municipality gave us," he said. 

Nkosi said, in order for him to pursue his passion to assist children in the community, he had to quit his 9-to-5 job as a pharmacist at Helen Joseph Hospital.

"They asked us to motivate on other things that we would do because the land is huge, and we spoke about orphans and vulnerable children and we also spoke about a library and how it can help children in the community," explained Nkosi. 

The piece of land that was provided to Nkosi by the municipality is used as a dump site by the community.    

'Watching this project grow is fulfilling'

While Nkosi was speaking to News24 on the land, two men were there collecting papers and cans. 

Metres away from the men, children were running around, playing with the dirt. Some of them called out to Nkosi, saying "mfundisi", meaning pastor. 

"Starting somewhere and watching this project grow is fulfilling," Nkosi said, as he reflected on the work done. 

He explained that he would like to transform the land into something the community would be proud of. 

He said they also had dreams of building a swimming pool. A borehole had already been provided for them.  

Nkosi said he and others initially took money out of their own pockets to start a garden so that it could sustain the project. 

"Sometimes we get food in the garden and cook for the kids, but sometimes we don’t have food for them. We have now planted spinach, onion, beetroot, cabbage and Mringa. 

"We have also seen a lot of people who are bringing some donations to help the project. Churches and the community have come out in numbers to help out the project," he said. 

He said his upbringing had motivated his passion to help children.

"I was raised as an orphan and it was difficult for us to even afford a toy or a book. I love kids and the best way to overcome crime and poverty in life is to give them a proper education, and I think the library is the best thing that has happened in the community." 

'It feels good to make them fall in love with reading'

There are more than 100 children in the community who have shown interest in the project, and regularly dedicate their time to reading. Nkosi said he had plans to start a book club for the them in 2017. 

"I was amazed at the turnaround of the children reading our books."

Nkosi has six other people who have volunteered to assist the children after school.  

He studied at the University of Limpopo and finished his Bachelor of Pharmacy at Wits University. 

"The country can be better if we give kids good education. We are trying to remove them from the streets."

He said, to sustain the project, each parent would have to pay R50 per year.

"The community should also play a part and get involved because these are our children and we all have to contribute to their future. It feels great not seeing children in the streets, it feels good to make them fall in love with reading."

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