At right: Xela AID provided child care while mothers learned to read and write, including fun activities like crafting animal-balloons. Here, four participants in the successful pilot program for adult literacy celebrate their upcoming graduation.
It is estimated that at least 60 percent of rural citizens are unable to read and write. To date, Xela AID a small number of adults in continuing education, with exciting results.
Literacy Pilot Program a Success
In 1999, Xela AID received a $500 grant for adult literacy. The organization sought adults who would self-select to participate in this program which would use the "cohort" group model for best success. The group ended up consisting of 26 women, all weavers or midwives, who had been village-bound most of their lives with few opportunities for lack of being able to read and write.
On this small investment, the 26 women received three hours of instruction over a six-month period, with outstanding results: All 26 graduated from the program, reading a paragraph and signing their names as part of the graduation ceremony. Xela AID volunteers listened and watched in wonder as a women of about 60 years old told her story of how, having no education, she had been isolated and marginalized her entire life, with no paying profession, no ability to travel, and no ability to advocate for herself since she couldn't read even her own birth certificate.
She ended holding up a cardboard placard about a foot long containing her signature in thick, black ink, and said,
"I will NEVER again face the humiliation of having to sign with a thumb print."
In addition, the Xela AID has sponsored:
• Several young mothers who were able to return to their studies and get high school diplomas; one went on to nursing school, and two became teachers.
• A father of five working for 15 years as a janitor who was able to finish high school and is now working as a bank teller.
In February of 2011, a monthly grant made it possible to reinstate Xela AID's adult literacy program which will once again follow the cohort model. The organization sees this program as core to its mission and will expand efforts when funding becomes available.