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Pen Malawi embark on reading culture enterprises

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Pen Malawi has said it will continue promoting reading culture in the country, starting with the grass root level despite having inadequate resources.

The organisation has in the past networked with several players in a quest to promote reading and writing culture which has died down in this modern world.

Pen Malawi President Alfred Msadala, who is also a renowned poet, said, among other initiatives, the organisation has embarked on two projects, one of them being African Story Box in which they have partnered with Book Aid International.

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“Book Aid International (Bai) works in libraries, schools, and other contexts in and beyond sub-Saharan Africa, donating books and delivering library development and librarian and teacher training projects, directly and through implementing partners. Our vision is a world where everyone has access to books that will enrich, improve and change their lives,” Msadala, who has authored a number of books, said.

He said Bai believes that it is unacceptable for a child to experience abuse of any kind and recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children under 18 years in contact with Bai projects, by a commitment to practice which protects them.

Msadala said Pen Malawi will, through African Story Box, organise the distribution of books, collaboration of Malawian publishers, monitor use of books with beneficiaries as well as organise events to promote reading for children and showcase works of local writers and publishers.

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He said 12 schools from three districts will benefit from this project.

Apart from the African Story Box initiative, Msadala said Pen Malawi, which is a national centre of Pen International established in 1994 following the ushering of freedoms of expressions and associations, is working on the invisible child based on the book The Invisible Guest in Moonminvalley written by Tove Janson in Swedish.

The book was translated into English in 1963 by Thomas Warburton and adapted further by Cecilia Davidsson and Flippa Widlund.

“We aim at celebrating literature and protecting freedom of expression. Pen International decided to use the literature in its projects after considering discussions in the current global context in which there is emerging critical debate in every sector scrutinising systemic, systematic discrimination and representation,” he said.

Msadala said they were using this piece of literature as a vehicle to find ways of engaging in the lived realities of children and specifically girl children from diverse backgrounds, who particularly suffer from forms of gendered oppression.

He said The Invisible Child is a layered, profound piece of literature and that its core themes of the book are seen through the main character Ninny, who experiences a series of sustained emotional and psychological micro-aggressions from her care giver, whose actions coerce her into various stages of societal invisibility.

“Our intention is to use this book as a catalyst for discussion among children. This project has been initiated as part of our commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and particularly Article 12, which upholds rights of children,” he said.

Msadala said the translated book they were using is Mwana Wosaoneka.

According to him, they have engaged four schools in Blantyre, namely Kapeni, Naotcha, Kachanga and Nansengwe.

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