For the longest time I have been asking, dying to know what excites me? What drives me? I am happy to say that I just realized it's teaching. I love teaching because the smile people give after being enlightened or acquiring a new skill is priceless.
Since I returned to my site after our In-Service-Training, I have been encouraging the girls in our GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Club to read a wide range of different books if they want to broaden their knowledge. Thanks to the generous book donation they received to help implement a reading culture in the club, their vocabulary is expanding.
Call me over-ambitious, but apart from helping and encouraging kids and youth to read, I have always wanted to help adults improve their literacy. I mean if these kids and youth are going to learn how to read and write it needs to start with their guardians telling them the importance and power of knowledge. So one day, when Mercy Chitseko, one of the members of the HIV support group, approached and asked me if I’d mind teaching her how to read and write. I thought to myself, how very fortunate. Good thing I love a challenge because so many people told me “It is impossible to teach a grown woman how to read, such skills are best taught to kids. You will not succeed.”
So where did I start from?
- I gathered locally available reading materials such as newspapers.
- I asked her to explain her education background to find out how much she can currently read. (Turns out it is not the actual reading that is a problem it is attaching meaning to a text that’s hard for her.)
- I asked her to read a poem and give the meaning of each of the words, both new words, and those she was already familiar with.
- I asked her to try to connect the words together and give the meaning of the entire sentence, stanza, and then the poem as a whole.
I must say, I was not sure if our experiment would work, but credit must be given to her unwavering effort and determination. At the end of our lesson, Mercy asked if she could take home one of the newspaper articles in preparation for this week’s lesson, and if possible, I could ask her a few questions next week on what she read. I was more than thrilled, so to also work on her writing skills, I gave her an exercise to construct sentences from the new words she had learnt from the poem. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with.
Maybe Mercy dropped out of school years ago and forgot a few words or two, but she gives me hope and inspires me that despite age, we can pick up that book, read a page and get our brains kicking again. Let us remember, it is not about how we started or where we paused, there is always room to build on our reading and writing capabilities. It is never too late until we say so and believe so ourselves.