Women from various communities gathered at the Athlone Seventh Day Adventist Church in Buckley Road last Wednesday, to participate in a skills programme hosted by Reading and Writing Solutions.The gathering of more than 40 women is a monthly programme held with the aim to train and empower unemployed women and stay-at-home mothers.Jeff Paulse (66), the founder of Reading and Writing Solutions, says the women are trained to work with children with poor reading and writing abilities, in schools across the Cape Flats.“I founded this organisation in 2014 in response to many parents approaching me after my retirement as a school principal. The approach was to assist their children with reading,” he says.“I found that there was a vast [number] of learners who cannot read properly or who can’t read at all. This is when I decided to do something by seeking the assistance of volunteers to help me teach children how to read. “This programme was officially started and I trained those who were willing to assist me. I served as an English teacher for most of my life, and to date I have trained over 1200 volunteers who can now help children to read better at schools across the city.”Paulse says the women in attendance are committed and travel from far-away communities to attend the programme once a month.“This gathering is what we call a monthly empowerment session. We develop these women in further advanced skills programmes and have special guest speakers relating to reading. “There are different programmes we have every month, including workshops on emotional intelligence. We learn from each other all the time, with a common goal.“These women are rewarded with something small every month just to show them our appreciation. They come here in hundred percent attendances and go out to work at local schools, religious organisations and even do home visits on a volunteer basis.”He urges more women to join the group with the aim to develop themselves first, and then needy children.The organisation is currently in the process of building several reading rooms on a premises in Athlone. The public is urged to donate any educational books, tables, chairs and equipment for the new premises, which will contribute to the development of reading among children on the Cape Flats.V For more information on Reading and Writing Solutions, call Jeff Paulse on 082 216 2460.