Sonia Elie of Eldorado Park. Picture: Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)
With a small bookshop that she runs from her home, Sonia Elie, 44, hopes to one day change the culture of crime, gangsterism, drugs and alcohol abuse in her Eldorado Park community.

Although the former salesperson might face hurdles in trying to revive and change attitude towards literature in the Joburg township, she is confident she will change her neighbourhood’s narrative.

“Don’t forget to close your window and lock the car,” she cautioned as The Star journalists parked outside her house where she runs the bookshop. She lives with her two children and husband Bronwyn.

She described it as “a movement” where she goes to schools and reads to children and she also runs a read aloud programme for the children from grades R to 3 in order to encourage them to love reading.

“Our kids just sit in front of the TV and play games. We need to go back to the culture of reading. My vision is for every local school, especially government schools to have a functional library,” Ellie said.

Her library is registered as a business and she sells books as a way of making money. She is currently looking for sponsorship.

She started the library a year ago after she quit the corporate environment to help her sickly mother. It was during this period of uncertainty about her future that she had a dream about starting a bookstore.

“I got a vision. I saw a big book,” Elie remembered.

She sought answers from God.

“The name ‘die boek feetjie’ (the book fairy) came to me,” said Elie.

Within a year of the bookstore’s existence, Elie started a support group, Eldos Visual Arts Narrators.

“It is for talented visual artists. It entails drawing, painting and there are some that can do mosaics,” she said.

Elie said that art enhanced the community and she encouraged the talent in the community to be shared with the world.

“Art can change your mindset. It can change the way you see things. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s where you are going to that matters,” Elie said.

@Lungile_TM