Reading abilities mean empowerment to us

By Jean-Wickens Merone, World Vision Haiti   

Apparently delighted to join her folks in an afternoon-reading class, Edith, 46, proudly says “Now I can spell my name. I no longer have to make a cross”. Like many others in her community, she attends since July 2013 a special class called mothers and children read together.

“As a kid I have never attended school”, regrets the mother of seven who is reminded of stigmatization she used to deal with before her enrollment in this program. She would go to a meeting or a distribution ceremony and people would ask the illiterates to step in first and make a cross under a form. Which is a “Shame”, she thinks.

In an effort to decrease the number of  illiterate people, specifically women the “Mothers and children read together pilot project is being implemented within three  World Vision Area Development Program, Los Palis, Rio Onde and Okodem and benefit a total number of 500 mothers.

“I was like a vehicle without light”, remembers Natacha, 31 in a voice full of emotion. The mother of two who seems to be very confident admits that she was leery in the beginning about the project.

“It took us at least three months to work with partners and sensitize the beneficiaries”, reminds kéla Valès, Education Manager for World Vision Haiti. The “Mothers and children read together” pilot project is based on the state approach to get Haitians out from the blackness of illiteracy kéla confirms. Parents are usually considered the first professor to their children. This belief was a joke for Edith. “I often asked myself how I can be the professor while I am illiterate”.

“It’s a blessing to be able to share with mothers what we have learned”, humbly declares Jeanna, 14. She attends 8th grade and is among the twenty youth trained to serve as coach in the project. A three-day training of trainers was organized in order to ensure the success of the initiative. “I think that no one should be illiterate and that’s why I am happy to help”, says the sponsored girl who is reminded that in the beginning things were tough. “Some of them could not even keep the chalk”.    

“If one day I happen to read the bible before the assembly in my church, I will consider this my biggest achievement”, dreams Edith. Anyway given the progress she’s made so far, this goal is to be reached anytime soon.

“I always make sure that everything get done in time so I don’t miss my class”, mentions Marline, 30. Not just the joy to read that she’s acquired, the mother of two feels like having now a voice in her community. This means “Empowerment” to her.