Growing up in a village where family members could not read a price tag, sign their name or write a letter may be common to many people in the developing world. Leketi Makalela did not take that experience lightly; he understood that success is gained through one’s ability to read, which in turn connects one to the world (reading the word) and to the self (self awareness). Seeing illiteracy as a disease that should be eradicated, he had a dream to transform communities and fast-track their development through reading.

As a literacy professor, he travelled throughout Sub-Saharan Africa where he saw many vulnerable, yet intelligent, children who are exposed to print poor environments, under-resourced schools and and inadequate family support structure to nourish reading ability.
These children resembled his own childhood and literacy experience and steered him to a passion to develop alternative literacy models for changing poor schools and vulnerable communities’ reading patterns. He then founded Balang Foundation based on three principles:
  • turning a poverty pain into a gain through reading,
  •  modelling success for the under-privileged and vulnerable children, and
  •  using local stories to transform communities into literate societies.