We are very proud to have the female literacy students enthusiastically write their names for Kate Mecca, who helps support the Women’s Education Center. It is a way to thank her and share their new found pride in their literacy skills. This marks a major milestone for them. When asked why they want to learn to read and write, one woman answered “I need to be able to read the statement written by the police when I’m thrown in jail.” Another woman said “I want to be able to sign my name at church rather than give my thumbprint. I feel so much better about myself.” One of Common River’s kitchen staff signed her name for the first time at one of our meetings. The minutes are passed around for those present to sign. She was absolutely thrilled to be accounted for as a person. She felt validated and equal with the others now, just by the fact that she signed for herself.
Who would have thought that the ability to read and write would be so important? Do we ever have to worry about reading the reason for incarceration or be embarrassed to have to ink on our thumb at church? We take for granted our education and the freedom it avails us.
The students are also learning numeracy and even wrote a number before their name. To be able to add and read numbers empowers a woman who otherwise would not know if she is been treated fairly in the market place. It is a tribute to the donations provided by a true educator, Kate, who realizes that a “one shot” contribution will not be as meaningful, as a consistent gifting to see a program grow. Education is a long-term process requiring a continued investment. Our female students want to continue to learn. They are graduating from the 1st grade to the 2nd grade. We want to grow with our students and offer them an education, which was not offered to them when they were girls. It is never too late for an education. To witness the empowerment that accompanies a signature is beyond comprehension for most Americans. It has erased shame and emboldened a new found inner pride that can never be taken away.
Thanks to Kate Mecca for her compassion and understanding of the importance of educating women. When you educate a woman, you educate a whole family. She stands as the shining light to bring women in Ethiopia out of the dark shadow of illiteracy. The women are forever grateful to Kate for her support of the literacy program and send their blessings every day to her.
Written by Donna Sillan, Program Director
Signing their name for Kate