Armed with knowledge, now less vulnerable

 In Around the World, West and Central Asia
OM International

Imagine living in a world obscured by meaningless symbols. Then one day a small door of understanding opens as you slowly start to decipher their meaning. You are learning to read and write for the first time.

Taslima* never had the opportunity to go to school. Because of this, she was often taken advantage of by others. A number of years before, a storm hit her village and a group came to provide relief. Although the slip that Taslima put her thumbprint on said 500 taka (approximately 6 USD) she only received 100 taka. When she objected, she was told the slip said 100 taka, and not being able to read she had no grounds to argue.

Life became harder for Taslima when her husband died, and she had to take up day-labour jobs to earn little more than a dollar a day. When OM started an adult literacy programme in her village, Taslima was delighted and signed up immediately. At the age of 50, Taslima has found it challenging to learn to read and write, but she knows it will bring great rewards. She is determined that nothing will stop her.

Only roughly half of all adults in Bangladesh can read and write. This number drops in rural communities and even more among women. Over the last several months, 300 participants have joined OM’s adult literacy classes in different parts of the country.

Literacy gives a sense of dignity and power. Taslima will no longer be taken advantage of because she cannot read. Literacy grants justice to the poor and many with a meagre income, who are simply trying to survive.

OM teams facilitate 15 adult literacy classes, 12 for women and three for men in three districts in Bangladesh. Classes run six days a week for nine months. The cost of 130 AUD empowers one woman to become literate.

*Name changed

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