www.readforlifebarbados.com FB: Read For Life Barbados IG: Read For Life Barbados Core Team: Jamila, Gillian, Jalisa Read For Life began its work in 2010 touring 4 libraries in the warm Barbadian summer months. At that time, it was hard to imagine the reading engine which RFL had switched on. The literary environment in Barbados faced archaic rote learning, distracting/destructive home environments and counterproductive 'copycatism'. These were the problems and here is how we solved them. Keeping Teaching At Bay It was tempting.... very tempting to start rigorous rote driven call and response techniques, mass dissemination of worksheets and practice exercises during readings. But no. Our organisation resolved to keep literacy in its most diverse sense; not bound by education but powered by creativity. This means that we focused on the words in each book not as phonetic huddles to conquer but as imaginative collections of sounds with meanings that we would deduce, propose or alter. Every page could lead to a group discussion, counseling session or a story unto its own. We created a state of controlled chaos. Remaining 'Grass-Roots' Our volunteers could care less if they were scheduled to RFL projects but instead more attached to the children in the library spaces. Sure our programmes are structured to include safety protocols, reading guides etc. but the love of reading and giving of time has remained at the center of our volunteers. Our projects include walking through communities and talking to residents about their local library. Listening to them in their homes and valuing the information they share on surveys. Our focus remains understanding literacy and how it affects people. We love the books and we love the humans. Encourage. Empower. Inspire To this we say copy-cats come! We want reading in public libraries to be duplicated. We want teachers to start community reading groups. If fellow NGO's can include adopting libraries as their community outreach projects then we have done our jobs. The reason why RFL focuses on building relationships, partnerships and MOU's is so that we set good examples that support viable and reliable growth. We build the engine's shell and flip the first switch but expect others to help clock those miles! If while reading the list of problems you thought, "Well these are the same in many countries," then yes. This is what makes what we do and how we do it impactful across many boarders. Our approach is unconventional and requires determination to execute which separates us from other programmes. We face the critics, nay-sayers and doubtful ones with a track record of progress. We remember the smiles, stories and commendations from the nations that we have worked in. Most importantly, we remember our objective; to raise and maintain the levels of literacy in participants, promote lifelong learning and the pursuit of knowledge.