The Boland cop who warmed people’s hearts when he handed out blankets to the homeless is teaching farm kids to read chop chop.
Warrant Officer Andries Douglas of Ceres SAPS is a fourth degree black belt karate instructor who is turning farm children into little ninja bookworms.
To progress to the next Dan, kids have to read a certain amount of books.
“If the children are too young to read, someone must help them read the book. The higher the grade, the more books they have to read before they can get their karate grading,” explains Andries.
And to earn their black belts, students have to read 10 books including a non-fiction one.
The kids are also rewarded for their efforts with medals and certificates.
Andries credits wife Eugenie for starting the Reading for Life programme four years ago.
And the parents are not left out.
“We have a mobile library because there aren’t any libraries on the farms. The women especially love the romance novels,” he chuckles.
Most of their books are donated by Lapa Publishers and Little Libraries.
Andries, who teaches at Shorin-Ryu Dojo in Ceres, wants to begin a culture of reading and discipline among kids.
“If you want to learn, you have to read. With it we also do drug awareness and leadership campaigns and yoga which the kids enjoy very much,” he says.
Many of the kids parents can’t afford the white karate uniforms, but this doesn’t stop them.
The laaities, from as young as three years old, practise their moves on fields or inside barns in whatever they are wearing.
He has also trained his older students as instructors to take over when he can’t make it due to work. And they are already reaping the fruits.
According to Andries, the kids say the karate reading lessons keep them out of trouble, their school work has improved and they are now challenging each other to see who can read the most books.
The good Samaritan has received several awards for his social initiatives, including the Witzenberg Tourism Ambassador Award in 2014 and 2015 and the SAPS Western Cape Sportsman of the Year award in 2015.