Julia Albu, a grandmother, has embarked on a road trip across Africa to help raise money for a literacy program in South Africa.
Setting off from Jakkalsfontein town, West Cape Province, on Tuesday morning, Albu drove in her 20-year-old Toyota Conquest, which she has owned for the last two decades, reports News24.
The 80-year-old Mother of four and grandmother to nine is expected to go through Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Greece, and London.
“This trip has got be done,” Albu said before embarking on the adventurous journey that is expected to take a year to complete.
Traveling with an Old Friend
Although Albu will be accompanied by her children, she was excited to also go along with an old friend: her Toyota saloon car, which she has named Tracy.
Although “Tracy” has almost 400,000 km on the clock, she was fitted with new tires, new shock absorbers, and even new seats and door panels upholstered in an exotic palm-frond pattern in readiness for the journey.
“Tracy is purring like a kitten. She is actually a bit like [a] 4×4. She is quite high, and of course, it is like sitting in your living room. It makes driving such a pleasure,” said Albu.
“She has been my only car, and we have built up a relationship. She is the most trustworthy, wonderful car.”
A Nation of Readers
Driving along huge trucks in the jungle as well as not knowing what lurks ahead made Albu nervous about the trip, but the desire to help South African kids learn how to read and meet interesting people along the way fills her with excitement.
Albu has already raised R13,900 for Shine Literacy, a non-profit organization helping to break the cycle of poor literacy in South Africa, and hopes the journey from Cape Town to London will help her hit the R20,000 mark.
“They [Shine Literacy] teach children not only to read but to comprehend the word so that they understand what they are reading,” she said.
“My mission is to hand out big pens and postcards to those who haven’t got so everybody can at least start to write. I also have sweets, suckers, books, and hats.”
Shine Literacy provides structured English literacy support to children by supplying them with storybooks as well as empowering parents and caregivers through family literacy workshops.
Studies show that 29 percent of South African Grade Four children are illiterate and 58 percent cannot read for meaning.
The organization attributes the high rate of illiteracy in the country to the multiple deprivations that many South African children face from birth, including poor nutrition, disease, violence, and abuse.