Saturday, July 26, 2008

Look at me! I can read! I can write!

It's Graduation Day in Malueka for those participating in the Literacy Program. They sang a song, "Look at me, Look at me, I can read, I can write."
Do you remember when you learned to read, how excited you were. Remember when your child learned to read and you saw their world open up to wonderful possibilites.

These women and men are celebrating their 9 months of effort to learn to read and write for the very first time. They are so excited to be able to accomplish something they have wanted to do all their lives. This is a result of a project conducted by Humana People to People and funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Malueka, the same neighborhood we reported on for the Family Health and Hygiene training also has been busy taking literacy classes. The classes were held in nighborhood churches and under mango trees in neighborhood yards. The project funded 200 people to learn to read and write in their native language of Lingala. No one was turned away who wanted to learn and the classes mushroomed to 500 participants. A community voluunteers were trained to teach the class by a professional teacher. Along with learning to read and write the classes used matereials supporting the strengthening of the communitysuch as health and Hygiene, ethics. etc. There were about 30 community teachers that taught 2 hour classes 3 days a week. Participants ranged from 15 yrs of age to 80 yrs of age. Most were woman but there were a few men.

When we visited a class we observed the students writing the letters in the sand, then writing the letters in the air, then writing the letters on the chalkboard in front of the class (with much cheering and encouragement) and then they would write the letter or word in their notebook.
One lady stood during the class and said, " Five weeks ago I could not read or write, but now I can read and write. Now I can help my children with there school work. I have always wanted to know how to read. Thank you for this gift."

We were touched by the joy we saw on all the participants faces. We attended the graduation for six classes of participants. It was a joyous occasion with a demonstration of their reading and writing. They performed a skit about a woman who got in to trouble because she couldn't read a letter that was sent to her. The skit went on to show that by being able to read many problems of our lives are solved and we can make decisions for ourselves.

Each participant was congratulated by the HPP leaders, the church missionaries, bishop of the church from the area and a representative of the Minister of Education who was over adult education. Some came up very reserved and tearfull while others clapped their hands and sang and danced.
An 80 yr old man spoke and told how all his life he had gone with out being able to read or write. He said that when he was young they drove the white man away and declared independence and now today here is a white man coming to help me learn to read and write. Now I can read just like my children and grandchildren.
What a choice experience to share with this community the gift of literacy. The community has taken on a new life with woman being proud of who they are and what they can accomplish.
Everyone was dressed in their best and many were dressed alike matching the class they were associated with.
"We are getting better. We are getting stronger. We are getting smarter," said one woman.
Humana People to People are a solid NGO with many partners. The church is in good company in their support of this organization and their programs for the community of Malueka.

1 comment:

Angela said...

That's awesome! You probably didn't know but I used to be involved in the Literacy Action Program here in Utah where I taught an adult to read and write. It's amazing how many things in their lives are so difficult without that ability. I can't imagine not reading something every day. I always talk about getting involved in it again now that I have more time but just never have. Maybe I'll look into that again. It's an awesome experience.