Meet the team
Carole Bloch is the Director of PRAESA. She has a PhD in early literacy in African settings from the Carl Ozietsky University, Oldenburg and has served as an early literacy consultant in several African countries. The main thrust of her work is to transform the way children learn to read and write, by helping to create conditions that put stories, meaning making and enjoyment at the centre of literacy and biliteracy learning. She has conducted research into young children’s literacy and biliteracy learning in multilingual African settings, facilitated training for teachers and teacher trainers and the publication of several books for children of all ages in various languages. She has also written several books for young children and between 2004 and 2007, coordinated the Stories Across Africa Project, a core project of the official language body of the African Union, The African Academy of Languages (ACALAN). Carole is also a founder and trustee of The Little Hands Trust, which promotes and supports the development of children’s literature in Africa. She is now leading a team who are carrying out a national Reading for Enjoyment initiative called Nal’ibali, in partnership with Times Media.
Esther Etkin is Campaign Manager for the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign. She has worked as a freelance writer, researcher, and edited several magazines. As the Head of PR and Channel Management for one of SA’s largest HIV-prevention initiatives, she oversaw the organisation’s communications strategy across multiple platforms and has consulted/spoken on print, mobile media and storytelling projects for young people locally and abroad. She has a Masters in Gender from the London School of Economics.
Contact for: Nal’ibali campaign information, sponsorship and partnership opportunities, media requests and events
Ashleigh Heese is a journalism graduate from the University of Cape Town, who has experience as a volunteer for literacy organisations in the Masiphumelele and Vrygrond communities, as well as experience working for the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation running a journalism workshop for students from Masiphumelele High school. She spent two weeks volunteering in the Transkei. She has taught surfing at Surf Emporium Surf School in Muizenberg for nine years. Ashleigh is the digital coordinator for the Nal’ibali campaign.
Arabella Koopman is responsible for the development and management of materials for Nal’ibali. Before joining the publishing industry, she worked as a teacher and teacher-educator. More recently she has worked as a writer and publisher, and in publishing management. She has a special interest in developing and researching materials that support and extend children’s literacy in multilingual settings.
Contact for: Queries or requests related to materials development, publishing and copyright
Ntombizanele Mahobe is an early literacy teacher and community trainer in biliteracy development, a researcher, children’s literature translator, storyteller and developing author of children’s books. She is one of the founders of the Vulindlela Reading Clubs and is a mentor to community literacy volunteers. She is currently working as the Training Coordinator for the Nal’ibali campaign. She is also a trustee of the Little Hands Trust.
Contact for: Nal’ibali training requests and workshop information
Tholisa Matheza is the Nal’ibali Mentoring and Support Coordinator at PRAESA. She previously worked as the Children’s Literature Programme Coordinator position at the Centre for the Book, driven by a love of reading and the desire to find ideas to tackle children’s low achievement levels in literacy in schools. She has seven years of experience as a primary school teacher, teaching maths, science and English.
Contact for: Provincial partner and programme support
Sally Mills is the Nal’ibali Networks and Communications Coordinator. Having cut her teeth in PR with five years experience at a leading PR agency in Cape Town, she combines her extensive knowledge in the social marketing and psychology in her position. Building effective relationships with partners as well as supporting and inspiring schools, reading clubs as well as individual Nal’ibali members, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and Psychology as well as an Honour’s degree in Psychology. She is a trained Life Line counsellor.
Venetia Naidoo has a long history of involvement in alternative education projects in Cape Town, primarily in administrative and support capacities. She currently anchors the PRAESA administration, including providing support to projects, monitoring funding and accounts, liaising with donors and supporting the human resources domain.
Contact for: Book orders, conference speaker requests, general enquiries
Malusi Ntoyapi is the Programmes Support Officer and early literacy community trainer for the Nal’ibali campaign. He is interested in the use of stories in social development. He is an initiator and core facilitator of the KwaFaku-Vulindlela reading club with youth from the community of Lower Crossroads, and a mentor to community volunteers. He has a Degree in Social Science and Linguistics from The University of the Western Cape, and a certificate in Community Storytelling from The International School for Storytelling.
Contact for: Nal’ibali demonstration site visits, events and programme support
Thulile Seleka is Nal’ibali’s Programme Manager. A youth development activist and specialist, she has more than 10 years of experience in the social development sector. She owns and directs a consultancy firm that seeks to contribute to the development and growth of young individuals and youth-led organisations (NGOs) so as to increase capacity, performance and meet critical social needs. As an experienced programme designer, she specialises at identifying the root causes of social problems, developing psychological and behavioural models that explain them, and developing the most appropriate and effective interventions, as informed by evidence and best practice.
Contact for: Programme and training sponsorships and partnership opportunities
Abigail Smith graduated from UCT in 2004 with a BA(HONS) in History and Film and Post Graduate in Marketing Management. Keen for some adventures she spent the next year backpacking South America. Following a short career in Advertising and Events Management at Ogilvy, Abigail took a leap of faith and entered civil society to work in HIV/AIDS Treatment Literacy and Program Management. Since 2008 she has worked with various wonderful local and international NGOs. Community Media Trust, Grassroot Soccer, PCI and The Western Cape Network on Violence Against Woman. Abigail joined the PRAESA team in March 2013 as the Operations Manager. An activist at her core Abigail believes in the power of education and literacy to be the game changer South Africa needs.
Click here to contact a team member.
Cluster Mentors are part of the core Nal’ibali team and are PRAESA staff members. They are based regionally and play a vital role in establishing a Nal’ibali presence in a local area, in developing local infrastructure and providing operational support and mentorship to enable new and existing, locally-based Nal’ibali activities to succeed.
Tsepiso Nyazo is a Nal’ibali Cluster Mentor in the Eastern Cape. Tsepiso was born and bred in Port Elizabeth but later moved to Grahamstown. He is a writer, poet and comedian with BA Honours in African languages from Rhodes University – and has independently published two isiXhosa short stories; a third one will be published by UKZN Press/New Reader Publishers (‘Iileta zikaNjongo’) in July at the National Arts Festival. His passion for the isiXhosa language is evident in the work he is doing to ecnourage the use of isiXhosa – by using isiXhosa in his blogs, reading clubs, comedy slot on Umhlobo Wenene FM and the paper he presented at the 3RD S.E.K. Mqhayi national language conference titled ‘Indigenous Languages in a Changing Global Economy’.
Malusi Puwe is an Eastern Cape Cluster Mentor for the Nal’ibali Campaign. Malusi comes from a training and development background. He joined Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (PPASA) in 1998 as a peer educator. He was trained on Sex and Reproductive Health matters by PPASA including MAN as partners. He was employed as a RHS Youth Educator, which allowed him to continue with his passion of youth leadership. He later ran a successful Million Voices Programme where he coached and mentored young people between 14-18 years on how to be responsible and trustworthy friends. He was also very influential in creating a ‘loveLife culture’ within the community of Motherwell, and worked as loveLife regional programme leader from 2006. He spent 11 years of his working experience at loveLife running youth programmes nationally.
David Jeffery is currently the Nal’ibali Cluster Mentor for the Western Cape. He started working with reading clubs in 2011, when he started a reading club through SHAWCO in Nyanga. Since then, he has provided mentorship and training for a number of other clubs in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. He has a passion for literacy, adult education and development. He is currently studying towards a PgDP/Masters in Education, and is specialising in Adult Education.
Kay-Lee Estherhuizen is a part-time Nal’ibali Cluster Mentor in the Western Cape. She was born and raised in Ocean View, and began volunteering and working from a young age at the Living Hope Community Centre. Kay-Lee is very passionate about music, dance and drama; she trained at the Magnet Theatre under Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek, and she was a vocalist in a band for three years. She also joined the Tercia Kindo Arts project in 2009. More recently, Kay-Lee composed a Libretto piece under the mentorship of Cape Town Opera, which was showcased at the Baxter Zabalaza Festival 2013. She has also worked with Jungle Theatre, running drama workshops at the KKNK Festival in Oudtshoorn. Her passion for dance and drama has led to a natural passion for telling stories, and she especially loves to tell the stories of the communities around her.
Rinae Sikhwari is currently the Nal’ibali Cluster Mentor in Limpopo. She is studying towards a BCom Management Studies degree through UNISA, and is interested in politics, education, law, business and arts. She loves to work with children and young people.
Bongani Godide is the Cluster Mentor for the Nal’ibali campaign in Gauteng. Bongani has experience as an actor and professional storyteller, as well as a passion for developing literacy. In 2004, he won at the Sibikwa Storytelling Festival. He is full of exciting and innovative ideas for sparking a love of stories in small communities, such as the “Read a Story to a School Near You” project, which invites ordinary people who can read and write to visit a local school or library and read. His secret to success as the Gauteng Nal’ibali Cluster Mentor will be involving local people, teachers and caregivers to be part of his community projects, which will increase sustainability and accountability. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org