Tribute to Cynthia
I think that I am the oldest person at READ and have worked here for many many years so I can claim to have known Cynthia the longest. Also our friendship started even before Cynthia thought of READ.
So first I want to talk about Cynthia as a friend. All this time she has been a true friend and a great comfort and support in times of trouble, not only to me but to all who have come to her for help. She has done whatever she can to see us through some of our life shattering struggles. So Cynthia as a friend is very important to me. There are other aspects that I want to talk about as well.
Cynthia as a person with vision: Her vision for READ a long time ago became reality because she put determination together with her dynamic personality. She was determined to do whatever she could to help the underprivileged children of SA develop their potential and get people to help her achieve this.
The first project I worked on with Cynthia was to put reference libraries into high schools in Soweto and we needed money for the books. I will always remember Eve Jammy , the manager of Exclusive Books at the time saying that yes, of course the business community would listen to Cynthia and provide the funds because Cynthia was so dynamic and convincing and believed passionately in what she was doing. And this proved to be true as we know. In all my years at READ this determination to do what she can for the children of SA has meant that many more ambitious projects like the Business Trust have been a great success
During our work in the high school libraries about 25 years ago I will never forget the fright we gave a little two year old boy who took one look at us and screamed-we were the first white people this child had ever seen. He bravely overcame his fear though when we gave him some sweets and quite liked us in the end though he wasn’t quite sure what we were.
Cynthia as a developer of people: One of the qualities I most admire in Cynthia as a person is that she always sees potential in other people and gives us opportunities to grow. The very first time I came to READ Cynthia wanted some flowers arranged. From this she somehow saw hidden abilities and I then went on to do many different jobs for READ. Cynthia has always been delighted with the success of all whom work at READ and very proud of our achievements. You just had to say that you wanted to try to do something and she would be so glad to let you have a go and her confidence gave us confidence too.
Cynthia as an intellectual: Cynthia has recognized the importance of working with world renowned experts in literacy like Professor Elley who introduced the book flood, Edie Garvey who taughtus the value of working with stories and Shelley Harwyn, a famous American teacher of creative writing and more recently Sue Ellis who gave us a wonderful workshop on using a small selection of excellent books to inspire children to read and write. So many people like this have visited READ through the years and their vision together with Cynthia ‘s ability to use their work, has helped READ develop into a respected literacy organization and kept us in the mainstream of world literacy research and development.
Cynthia as an artist: When I look around at the beautiful READ building that looks like an art gallery I think of Cynthia as an artist. She has an eye for art with the wonderful prints and colours we see every day. The art and architecture of this building show us that you are an artist. Thank you for making our working environment so lovely.
The combination of friendship, vision, generosity to develop others, intellectual and artistic ability all put together make Cynthia into a truly amazing person and this has been proved by her achievements through READ for the children of SA. I think we will all try our best to make Cynthia proud of us through continuing where she has left off and doing whatever we can for the children who need us more than ever.