Noreen Saisi

NoreenNoreen is passionate about teaching – a badly needed role in Karateng’.  A teacher by training, Noreen has gladly taken on the role of adult literacy educator and immersed herself in targeting illiterate adults who are interested in taking the step towards literacy.  She teaches without judgement, leading the reader to want to learn more.

When Noreen Saisi joined Tambach Teacher Training College, she hoped that it was going to be the key to her future.  She entertained all kinds of options in education, but she never imagined that she would eventually become one of six librarians at a start-up community library.  She was open to the career change as it provided her a steady income, and learned all the skills that a librarian would need to know to process books and handle other activities that take place in a library.  The challenges have however been unique yet rewarding.

Noreen has worked for READ ACROSS AFRICA in Karateng’ since November 2014, and especially began to enjoy her role as librarian in August 2015 when the doors were opened to the public.  Most days have been pretty ordinary, but the month of May 2016 has presented some challenges, which she has handled with grace and poise.

First it was the 2nd grader who left her a note in Kiswahili that said, “kuna jini library. Nikikuja nitakufa.” Translated, “there is a ghost in the library; if I come in I will die”.  Noreen was shocked by the note, but she knew that an adult who is ignorant about education had clouded the little boy’s mind.

Noreen, a mother, knew she had to get to the boy as soon as possible and recently had the opportunity to talk to him and let him know that the adult villager who had said that to him was ignorant and was discouraging him from pursuing his future.  She talked to him about the importance of education and made him promise that he would come back.  She now has him on his radar and will do everything in her power to ensure that he confidently walks in everyday without fear of ghosts and imagined evil spirits.

After a perceived ghost incident, Noreen was hoping that things would go back to normal.  Not so fast! One morning as she was preparing for her day, a twenty-something mother of 4 walked into the library and asked Noreen to teach her how to read.  Noreen felt overwhelmed as she had only been trained to teach children.  After speaking to the young lady for a few moments, she immediately knew that she had to step up to the challenge.

Lillian confided in Noreen that she was orphaned as a child, and raised by her grandmother, who could not afford to pay her school fees.  To ‘improve her life’ she got married young and moved to her husband’s home in Orongo – a nearby village.  Her husband supports her educational aspirations so she comes to the library everyday (Monday to Friday) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Since her first class less than one month ago, Lillian can now recite the entire alphabet, can sound out the letters, and can count from 1 to 50.  Noureen plans to introduce her to books very soon, and credits the tremendous improvement to her dedication, openness, and the mindset that shame will only hold her back.