My name is Prince Sibusiso Mhlanga, known as Sbu. I’m currently working at LETCEE as a Community Development Project Officer, here since the year 2013. From the day I heard the great news of being appointed by LETCEE Management Team as a new Mobile Toy Librarian, it was like I’m dreaming! I have a love for the children, especially Babies (Infants), Toddlers and other older children; as well as play sessions with the children, especially young ones. On the 16-20 January 2017 I attended Orientation training in Early Childhood Development at LETCEE Training Centre. I thought then that I added enough knowledge that will help me in my new task as a Mobile Toy Librarian, but after I attended a Toy Library Administration Training from the 10-12 April at LETCEE Training Centre (facilitated by an experienced facilitator Mrs. Charmayne Foster) it was like I’m born again.
It was so fruitful, because before I was thinking it’s an easy thing to monitor or run Toy Library with those 5 days Orientation training I attended. I thought I’ll manage easily to be a Mobile Toy Librarian! Unfortunately, after this 3 days training of Toy Library Administration Training, things were totally changed. Our Facilitator was so amazing. The way she was facilitating during the training was showing me she has too much experience in this field, and she has an amazing passion for her work. She explained as much as she can to make everyone understand and be able to have a self-confidence as a Toy/ Mobile Toy Librarian.
Five Toy Librarians from different communities (which is Njengabantu, Eshane, Mbuba, Matimatolo, Greytown Coloured village) and 1 Mobile Toy Librarian and her Assistant attended this training with me. It was so amazing the way we were working together as a team. Although I was only one guy in a bunch of ladies, it was very fun to work together as a team in all our tasks during the training. For most of Toy Librarians it was a refresher training as they have long experience as Toy Librarians and they did attend several trainings of Toy Librarians. For me and 2 others who were attending, it was the first time to be in specific Toy Librarian training. My goal was to get more knowledge and more training in this field. I can proudly say I have more knowledge when it comes to this field of Toy Libraries.
I’m proud to announce that after I completed this training I learned a lot about different Libraries and their benefits. Before, I wasn’t thinking that Libraries differ that much. But during the training I learned that Libraries are not the same at all. I learned there is a Public Books Libraries, which is sometimes run by Government or Municipalities. There are Private Libraries, mostly you have to pay some fees to be a member. I also learned that Libraries are operating in different ways: some you come to borrow and return, others you come to play or read as well as borrow and return.
Some Libraries are run by NPO’s like LETCEE. When you visit those libraries no fees you have to pay, it’s for free. Some Toy Libraries are situated inside Public Books Libraries, others are in Hospitals, some Toy Libraries are in the Community buildings like Community Halls, Tribal Court etc. There are also some Toy Libraries that are in the containers – like the LETCEE Toy Libraries in our communities. Then you also get Mobile Toy Libraries, which is where I will work. It is when you take a Bakkie/ Panel van/ Pick up Vehicle and put toys in bags/shelves and then get stations to stop at. Where you stop, you let children play.
It was the nicest experience ever when our Facilitator organized a 30 minutes cross visit to Greytown Municipality Public Books Library. We observed their classification and categories of their stock. All 8 of us and our Facilitator walked down to the Library, because it’s not far from LETCEE Premises. When we were in the Library, I learnt that there are a lot of similarities with our Toy Libraries. They also have a way of classifying their stock (Books, Displayed Table, Children Section, Magazines and Newspaper). This was exactly what I learned from this training.
What I liked most about this 3 days training is that I now clearly understand my roles and responsibilities as a Mobile Toy Librarian. I’m the one who is responsible for the whole process of the Toy Library. Actually I’m the Manager. I have to make the Toy Library work, make it attractive and make sure that members of the community have a clear understanding of what it is. As a Toy Librarian I’m also a Play Facilitator all the time. I have to try by all means to participate during play sessions. This means I have to be a more knowledgeable person, kind and loving for people especially children, as well as physical fit.
When I go to communities, I have to show respect and a certain behavior as a Mobile Toy Librarian. I have to work together with stakeholders within the communities I visit with a Mobile Toy Library. Like Government structures or any structure who focus on children or doing similar work that we are doing as LETCEE. Stakeholders can be Dept of Social Development, Child Protection Forums, NGO’s or NPO’s and Tribal Forum. I also learned the skills of referrals – if possible to do so in any circumstances I face, especially with beneficiaries of the Mobile Toy Library like children.
Mrs. Charmayne Forster (Facilitator) taught us about the steps of running or managing our Toy Libraries so that it will be more attractive, running professionally and benefits more to the children. I think I can manage a Mobile Toy Library after this training, because I know all principles to follow to make my work more successful. The way of processing toys that I’ve learned is very valuable. When I’m receiving a stock of Toys, I know what I must do before letting the children or any beneficiary use it.
I clearly understand the importance of following the steps of processing the toys. I have to record it on my accession register, analyze that toys before I let anyone use it so that I will avoid any injuries especially to young children, record it on stock register (classified it to the right category), and mark each any every piece of toy like. This way it will be easy to manage when it’s mixed up or missing and it also will help during annual stock taking. It is important to do annual stock taking so that it will be easy for me to see what I need most in my Toy Library.
I learned a lot about the benefits of Toy Libraries which I wasn’t aware of. We looked especially at children but also considered the whole communities. Members and families within those areas where Toy Libraries are situated can benefit from them. We know that Toy Libraries are not designed for young children only. It is important to encourage all of them to attend these Toy Libraries with their children or on their own. This is so important for the development of their children holistically.
We also learned about different toys and the roles they played especially in the development of a child holistically. There are different types of development, which is Socially, Physically, Intellectually, Creative and Emotionally (S.P.I.C.E). I also learned that a toy teaches or develop a child in a few different ways at the same time. For example, puzzles develop a child intellectually, the small muscles, it can be social etc. We have to categorise toys into groups that will develop all those areas like: Make Believe area or Quiet area, Block area, Infants area, School-going children area etc. I liked the labeling system for stock shelves in our Toy Libraries. This makes sure that everything will be in order (right place). This means that if I’m not available, anyone can run the Mobile Toy Library – even beneficiaries can be able to see what they would like to play.
I really enjoyed the last day when we were doing practical of what we learned theoretically. Our Facilitator allowed us to practice what we learnt. It was amazing to see all of us following the exact steps of processing toys as she taught us. No one was looking for assistance, we were doing it on our own, all of us positively and successfully completed the task hundred percent.
This training added value to me and made me love to be a part of LETCEE Team more. I am seeing the overall purpose of the organization, that is to see every child develop holistically. This is also my daily dream. After this training I’m proud to say from now on I want to be one of the top Toy Librarians in the World! On the 28 May 2017, World Play Day, I will make sure I do something special. I promise what I’ve learned during this training I will implement as it is on my new task as LETCEE Mobile Toy Librarian.
Our Facilitator also told us anytime we need clarity or assistance in our work, we can communicate with her. I also really enjoyed when our facilitator included some members of LETCEE Management Team in some slots during the training to add more important information. It is Miss. Annika Hayward and Ms. Kitso Maragelo. Although it was a short time because of other work they are doing within the Organization, it was a great pleasure to have them during the Training. It shows our role as Toy Librarians is very important to them as well. It gave me a positive thoughts for real for my new task of being a new Mobile Toy Librarian!
I would like to thank Mrs. Charmayne Foster for this training, I wish it was the 3 months training at least. I’m still hungry for more information. She has so much knowledge when it’s comes to this field of play sessions and development of a child. She made it clear to me that Toy Libraries all over the World are playing a huge role in a development of children. They even released stress in the older people.
Play is very important to the child, it makes a child’s life very easy when he/ she is supposed to attend school (Grade R and more). These kids learnt through play as researchers make it clear! Mamkhulu you are real a “Jack of All Trades”! God bless you with many many more years, your knowledge we need so much as a young generation. You are such a gifted person, keep on doing a good work in our communities.
I would also like to thank LETCEE Management team for choosing me to be the new Mobile Toy Librarian! Without you I’m not sure I will manage alone on this Journey. And to my colleagues, especially other LETCEE Toy Librarians, together we stand, but separate we will fall easily. With God’s grace I know Toy Libraries will make a huge change in the holistic development of children! Especially deep rural areas where they don’t have access of ECD Centres and different toys. We know that researchers found out Children learn through play. My role is to make sure everybody understands clearly the importance of letting children play as much as they can, because it’s their way of learning.
Written by: Mr. Prince Sibusiso Mhlanga