Children’s author Helene Pam visited Constantia Primary School last week and read to pupils from one of her books.
The Glasswinged Butterfly is about a butterfly with transparent wings who feels different from other colourful butterflies and goes on a journey to find her beauty.
Her path leads her to wise teachers who help her to discover that true beauty comes from how you live your life and what lies within. It is a story about self-reflection, transformation, and the discovery of inner beauty and self-worth.
Helene spent the morning with the school’s Grade 4s and 5s, teaching them about what she calls “the seven pillars of happiness”: self-reflection, gratitude, working to achieve dreams, self-care, building strong connections, being kind, and helping others.
Helene’s children’s story books and activity journals are illustrated by her daughter, Sheleen Lepar.
Helene runs workshops to build children’s confidence, ease anxiety and help them live good lives.
“Our purpose is to be like the sun,” she told the pupils.
She asked the children what they liked most about themselves, what made them happy and what they wanted to do when they grew up. She got a flurry of career choices from the Grade 5s in response to that last question: a teacher, a doctor, a soccer player, a soldier, a dermatologist, the children told her.
“This is wonderful for the class,” said Grade 5 teacher Nicole Frank. “A lot of them don’t really see their potential. There might be no one at home who believes in them, and these kids have dreams, so it’s important that we support them. They need someone to believe in them.”
Principal Alistair Adams said the workshop helped the children read for understanding. They could reflect on the story and relate to it.
“These kind of things empower them and show them their worth, that they’re on Earth for a reason.” He added: “We teach values in
classes and assemblies, we want the children to be good citizens, to remember that they need to follow rules in society.”
Unemployment, poverty, absent parents, were just some of the problems his pupils faced at home, he said, so it was important for them to feel motivated at school.
Helene, a mother of three, started writing and reading her stories to her children when they were younger.
“I started writing stories with deep life lessons because I wanted to teach them to believe in themselves, their greatness, their importance in the world and how much power they hold in their hands to make a positive difference to their own lives and the world.
“This was important to me, because when I was young, I never had that. I had no self-esteem and I wanted my children’s lives to be different.”
She told the pupils she had grown up very shy and afraid of public speaking, but now she could speak confidently in front of a large group, and she wanted to teach them that confidence too.
“When my children grew up, I took my many stories and filed them away because I didn’t believe I could achieve my dream of becoming an author.”
Then six years ago, Sheleen called her from America, where she now lives, and asked her to send one of the stories she remembered from childhood.
“She wanted to illustrate it for me as a birthday gift,” said Helene.
“Sheleen wasn’t an illustrator at the time, and so I was totally blown away when I saw her first illustration which became the cover of my first story Happy Bus. Sheleen not only illustrated the story of Happy Bus in the most magical way, but she went on to have it published and presented me with a fully published book as my birthday gift.
“She said she wanted to show her gratitude for me raising her and her sisters alone, for sacrificing so
much for them, for teaching them important life lessons and for making them who they are today.”
Helene thanked the Holmes Family who have donated hundreds of copies of My Happy Place and The Glasswinged Butterfly to three schools, including Constantia Primary.
Anyone interested in sponsoring more books and/or workshops can email firstname.lastname@example.org