The Power of Ending Illiteracy for One Woman and Her Community
In the rural community of Katchereza, Malawi, lives Falesi Phiri, a determined mother of five who never had the opportunity to attend school as a child. “I failed to go to school when I was young, mainly because of poverty and the long distances to the nearest school,” says Falesi. “Many other girls in my community also experienced similar challenges and ended up getting into early marriages.”
A lack of education ended up creating several challenges for Falesi as she became a young wife and mother. “I was not able to read or write, and because of this had challenges in traveling from one place to another,” remembers Falesi.
As a farmer who relies on selling her produce at the market, the challenges from Falesi’s lack of education went beyond just getting the market. “Some people would even steal from me as I was not able to calculate the correct change to give to a customer,” she says.
When the community of Katchereza partnered with buildOn to construct a school, they ensured that adults like Falesi could receive the education they missed as children. Falesi was one of the most enthusiastic students in a group of 85 parents and grandparents who took part in buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program.
Taught in the evenings, in the same schools their children attend by day, buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program gives parents and grandparents in rural communities their first real opportunity to attain an education and the skills they need to build a better life for themselves, their children and their communities. Students learn to read, write and do basic math before putting their education into practice through income-generating activities. 78% of the participants are women like Falesi.
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“Now, because of buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program, I can easily read, and I am able to tell what bus to take to my destination,” Falesi says proudly. “At the same time after selling my farm produce, I am able to count the money I have earned at the market. This could never happen before joining the Adult Literacy Classes. I am also now able to write my name and, therefore, I can easily fill out certain forms at the hospital or bank which I could never do in the past.”
“We have also gained important business skills from the program. Through this initiative we have managed to contribute MK 9,750, which was used to buy school uniforms for the underprivileged learners attending primary school in our community.”Falesi Phiri
Falesi has also learned farming skills to increase her yields, and has even begun rearing goats through the income-generating initiatives of her community’s Adult Literacy Program. She and the other women of the community are using their new skills to benefit the entire community, working together on projects like fertilizer-making and investing a portion of their profits in the education of the village’s children.
For men and women like Falesi, buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program paves the way for them to not only learn valuable literacy skills that will help them in their everyday lives, but it also provides them with the training and resources they need to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty.