Overview of the Project

In 2010, Natalia Tukhareli developed and implemented the Nkosi’s Haven Library Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. During her stay and work at Nkosi’s Haven, she

  • established a library and information service within the organization to ensure the information needs of the library users were understood and met;
  • developed and purchased a quality collection of books and reference materials relevant to the needs of the residents of Nkosi’s Haven;
  • designed and conducted a variety of educational and recreational programs for children, young adults and adults, including an innovative Bibliotherapy Program on HIV/AIDS;
  • developed a liaison with public libraries and book agencies and received donations of 650 new children books from Biblionef, the interactional book agency.


Overall, 82 people – 59 children and young adults (age 6-19) both HIV-positive and HIV-free and 23 adults (age 20-58) all HIV-positive participated in the HIV/AIDS Bibliotherapy Program.. The program was designed for a 3-month cycle and delivered through weekly sessions. Sessions addressed the following issues:

  • HIV/AIDS: terminology; facts and myths about the HIV transmission and prevention.
  • Death and Loss: death as a natural part of the life cycle – universal, inevitable and irreversible.
  • Positive thinking and appreciation for life.
  • African cultural norms and values: to broaden children’s perspective on their ethnic roots and traditions, enhance their appreciation of African culture and develop self-awareness.

The above mentioned topics were explored through individual and group read-aloud sessions, group storytelling sessions and one-on-one conversations with the participants of the program.

For the detailed description of the program, including its methodology, outcomes and findings, see the article “Bibliotherapy in a Library Setting: Reaching out to Vulnerable Youth.” The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 6.1 (2011): 1-18. Web: http://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/issue/view/110

“I always believed in the consoling power of books and the reading process itself. During the three months that I spent at Nkosi’s Haven, I had a chance to see this power in action. Books helped these kids to escape. Books helped to expand their world, which was especially beneficial because in most cases the children at Nkosi’s Haven were trapped in their physical and emotional problems. Although I realize that books cannot protect Nkosi Haven’s children from the reality where, in the majority of cases, there is “no escape to a happy ending,” I believe that they can help children to build the coping skills they need to survive in this harsh reality.”

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