Friday, September 7, 2007

International Literacy Day

Of the world's population of 6.6 billion people, over 4 billion can read. In honor of International Literacy Day we would like to share the story of Jocelyn Franco of Quezon City, Phillippines who joined the 4 billion last year.

Never Too Late

A mother leads by example

Nine-year-old Dante Franco Jr. of Quezon City wants to be a professional basketball player, like his idol, James Caguiwa. While basketball skills are not a direct part of his Children International sponsorship experience, the mere fact that he has the freedom to dream big is telling.

When his mother, Jocelyn, was his age, she was getting ready to leave school. Her family’s desperate financial state forced her into the workforce at a time when the orchard of her mind was just coming out of the soil. After the completion of elementary school, young Jocelyn had to go to the tire factory where she glued new rubber on old tires. Although she really missed school (where she had received excellent grades), she never complained about the work that had to be done.

Breaking the cycle

Through sponsorship, Jocelyn would accompany Dante to the Children International community center often. There he would receive school supplies, new shoes and clothes, health and dental checkups.

Life was stable for Jocelyn and her brood. Their store below their small apartment sold basic produce, groceries and meat to loyal customers. Although the family’s income was meager – bringing in only $56 per month – it was steady. The children enjoyed school. But Jocelyn always felt that something was missing. That’s when Pagasa came into her life.

Pagasa is the Filipino word for “hope.” Children International’s Quezon City office initiated the Pagasa Adult Literacy Program in 2005 to address a need expressed by sponsored children’s mothers, like Jocelyn. They wanted to help their children with homework and letter writing to sponsors but often couldn’t because basic skills eluded them.

Dante appreciates the help with his studies. A nonjudgmental environment and broad curriculum were created, and to date, 39 mothers have completed the program. Quezon City’s agency director Lei Orioste explains, “The program is designed for parents to relive the educational experience they missed. We want to empower them with enhanced skills like reading, writing, basic English, mathematics and interpersonal communication. Above all, the students are taught the value of education as a powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty, to make a different path for their children.”

For three months, Jocelyn diligently attended the classes for two hours every Saturday. She relished the homework.

“At night, after closing the store and before sleeping, I would review the lessons for about a half an hour. I even shared the lessons with my children, Babylyn and Dante, like English, vocabulary, weather reports and songs that we were taught,” Jocelyn explains. “I managed the time and responsibilities very well.”

Jocelyn’s self-esteem has been enhanced. The dividends of the Pagasa course are evident in all aspects of her life. Some of her former classmates have become her customers. “My neighbors say I am friendlier now. That is because we were taught a good attitude and how to apply it in our everyday life,” Jocelyn shares.

Before Pagasa, Jocelyn had to rely on simple addition and subtraction. “Now I will just multiply numbers, because I received much practice in multiplication. I am also more accurate in giving change.”

The Pagasa program has reaffirmed Jocelyn’s feeling regarding the power of education. She will not let her children repeat the mistakes of her past. Jocelyn says, “Education plays a very important role in breaking the cycle of poverty. If you finish your education, this is a good opportunity for you to have a good and stable job and a good stable life.”

No comments: