Article By: Ngonidzashe Emmanuel Chikandiwa
‘’Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body’’, these profound words by Richard Steele are better understood by a local Chiredzi youth network that recently launched the #booktherapy movement.
‘’Booktherapy’’ formally termed bibliotherapy or therapeutic storytelling is a creative arts modality, that encompasses storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing.
A cursory Google search reveals, it uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books as therapy and has shown to be effective in the treatment of depression.
CACLAZ (Coalition Against Child Labour in Zimbabwe) Chiredzi Youth Network, a network that mainly focuses on the eradication of child labour in the region ,started the #booktherapy project upon the realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic indefinite lockdown has shaken the mental state of the people. In isolation many have become victims of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and many other mental problems, that have in worst case scenarios resulted in suicides. The youths have been inviting book donations from interested parties, books for all ages, that are educative, informative, and non discriminatory or explicit.
The books will then be donated by the network in far off places or borrowed at their centre. The movement despite being a month old , has without a doubt been well received and donations have poured in, evidently shown by stacks of books boxed at the youth network base.On social media , #booktherapy has been embraced and on the CACLAZ Youth Network facebook page active participation is visible on the ‘’booktherapy’’’.
‘We want to enhance a healthy escapism , especially for our fellow youths , whose usual choice of escapism is destructive’’, says Realise Maposa ,one of the youths at CACLAZ. For the rest of the youth network team, ‘’an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’’, and they are on a mission beyond preserving sanity, they want to unplug other youths from the streets .Under lockdown, juvenile delinquency continues to brew at a shocking pace and they seem to believe an engaging read could postpone youths from encountering imminent danger.
Despite challenges that their literature therapy encounter and probably will encounter, such as a reading ignorance mentality or long distance travelling restrictions, they are hopeful in their immediate zone it will have a positive impact. Most of those that have shown keen interest and will probably be attracted, will majorly be young people.
The youth network plans on also introducing online book donations , and distributions upon request on their platforms, to save as minds as they can , without barriers. . As minuscule as it would seem, this might probably be a step in the right direction by the youth network and their brain child, #booktherapy.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is the single largest contributor worldwide on disabilities and one in four people will be affected at some point in their lives. There is no doubt that, now more than ever, with the ravaging Novel Coronavirus our sanity is under siege.