RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA Begins a New Chapter with Reading Campaign
RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA is currently working on two fronts to address the issue of illiteracy in Kolahun.
Fifty seven percent of adults in Liberia are illiterate, according to UNICEF, primarily due to the disruption in education during the civil war (1989-2003). The literacy rate in Kolahun, a rural village, is likely even higher.
Kolahun’s adult women are eager to improve their lives by learning to read, which they know is the gateway to knowledge. They are serious students.
These women are the caregivers of the vulnerable youth that RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA supports. Many of them are fostering orphans or have taken in children of extended family. They are exceptional, though they are not the exception.
On a typical Friday afternoon you will find them at literacy classes taught by RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA staff. In the sparsely furnished classroom (which is often a shaded space under a mango tree), the blackboard will be covered with simple words; students will be practicing their reading and memorizing new vocabulary. Though they may not know the history of Frederick Douglass, the former slave and American abolitionist, they do share, instinctively, his belief in the power of literacy. When they learn to read and write, they will gain the ability to create their own story, and to shape their lives and the lives of their families and surrounding communities.
Underscoring its commitment to literacy is RESTORE HOPE’s belief that books should be in hands, not on shelves. Thanks to The Desai Family, Ray Clark and Family, Darlington Martor and his team at Anything Is Everything, and other donors, RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA has acquired a significant collection of books.
Children of all ages are devouring them! For a community where books are rare, these are real treasures for the children. During story time, they sit fully absorbed and captivated. It is all so magical.
Starting from the preschool years, the children enrolled in RESTORE HOPE are encouraged to handle books, turn the pages and read as much as they can. Some caregivers will be able to read along with the children, while other caregivers will be strengthening their literacy skills in the process.
At a recent caregivers' meeting, the RESTORE HOPE team stressed the vital importance of regular reading as the foundation to academic success.
The books are currently available to any RESTORE HOPE enrollee or caregiver to check out. Children are encouraged to take them home and read them as much as they’d like.
When the Vocational Education & Training Center is completed, the community library will be set up there to ensure access for all.
The books are also strengthening our tutorial program by giving tutors additional material with which to help students. Tutors will be spending a portion of their afternoons in one-on-one reading sessions with students who need extra literacy assistance.
Meanwhile, RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA is collaborating with local Peace Corps volunteer, Carson Stacey. He and RESTORE HOPE’s Field Coordinator, James Kpangbai are planning an upcoming reading competition event for the children.
The ability to read infinitely expands one’s world. It gives a depth and fullness to one’s life. We are working to make sure each child masters reading, ensuring a lifetime of greater opportunities.