Adult Literacy Graduation
In June 2019, Shining Light opened six new Adult Literacy Centers among the Gujjars, five for women, and 1 for men. After six months of learning how to read and write, 85 women and 14 men graduated from this program this with the ability to understand basic Urdu, write their names, read road signs, and so much more.
These stories of transformation are so powerful, they may even seem hard to believe. Can you imagine not even being able to count the eggs you had in your home, or having never held a pen or book in your entire life? While this was once the case for many of the Gujjar mothers, now they are able to assist their young children with their homework, navigate road signs to find the hospital, and write their names on important documents. We often forget the power that literacy holds to empower a person, but for these recent graduates, the skills gained are truly life changing.
Dolat Bibi “Two weeks ago, I was going to Gilgit and I was able to read all the sign boards. I was going to the Aga Khan Health Center, and I read the board and I found the hospital. In my return I was alone, and I recognized my village while reading the sign board, and told the van driver to stop the car near my village. I can read any kind of sign now. When I was a young girl my father had put me in a school but after a month my brother didn’t allow me to go because at that time my family was conservative, and they were not trusting me. I wish I hadn’t had to leave school but because of my family I wasn’t able to continue my studies. Today I am very happy, and I have worked hard to study in this adult literacy center. I have six kids and I am sending all of them to school and I not want them to be illiterate.”
Jamila “I have never held a pen in my hand in my whole life, and for the first time I have had the opportunity to hold a pen in my hand. I have never spoken a single word in Urdu but today I speak in Urdu and communicate to my kids in Urdu. I have never thought of going to a school or center in such an old age but today I feel proud of myself and I am so happy to get to go here. Today I can write the names of my kids and when I write their names, they are so impressed, and sometimes I write better than them! I attend the classes on a regular basis and I never feel bored, I come here every day and learn something new every day. Today I can check the homework of my kids and I read the notes sent by the school with my kids about their progress. Now what else do I need, it’s my joy! I can keep a good check on my kids. Thank you all for helping us to become educated”.
Marifa “I feel like I am highly educated today because I have been able to help my kids with their studies since I have been coming to this center. When my kids can’t recognize the Urdu alphabet, I help them understand. My husband is illiterate, and I help him learn basic Urdu. He is proud of me and he always encourages me to attend this center. He says that I will stay illiterate and you have the chance to become educated. Now when the other ladies who do not attend this center they are asking me, ‘ how much do you learn and is it easy to learn?’ I tell them, ‘yes it’s easy if you work hard!’ In the next session there are many ladies who are planning to attend the adult literacy center.”
Khushnama “I am pleased to be part of this Center; you are giving such special importance to older women. My people are thankful for this learning place. I am mediocre, but I like coming here and there are ladies of my same age and I get to talk to them and we learn so many good things from our young beautiful teacher. I am glad to be a student, and I want to become literate. Before I came here, I was not able to calculate things. I have many hens and I can count my EGGS now. I can tell my family that there seven eggs, nine eggs and I even now recognize the different currency notes. This is the first ever school for older women in my village. I am very happy to learn good lessons each day.”