I’m so excited, I can now read books and signboards on the streets, says Afghan Gul Afshan
Gul Afshan, 40, moved to Herat from Robat Sangi - Kushk district with four children and her husband. When she first joined the Haqjoo self-help group she didn’t know even the basics of reading and writing. “I was totally illiterate. After the People in Need started a literacy course in our community, I decided to join a class that was near our house,” she says.
Many adults often wonder if the time needed to learn to read and write is actually worth it but the stories like Gul Afshan’s prove what an impact the few hours per week can have on someone’s life. Over the nine months of the literacy course she studied hard: six days a week for two hours a day. Gradually, Gul Afshan’s confidence grew and so did her reading and writing skills. “I have become more confident and happier in the class. I have been putting my hand up and contributing to the lessons,” she says.
“I’ve spent most of my life doing carpet weaving to have some income. Despite my house-work and income-earning responsibility, I accepted the challenge to join the literacy course; now I see its positive impact in my life,” Gul says.
5800 literate people
Gul Afshan’s daily life is changing thanks to her newly gained skills. “I’m so excited; I can now read books and signboards on the streets. It gives me a very good feeling,” she says. She is one of the 4,334 people who successfully graduated from the first round of literacy courses established by PIN in Herat and Jalalabad. In total 5,800 men and women became literate through the whole project.
The literacy training contributes to success in different aspects of people’s lives such as the ability to maintain record keeping in self-help groups, effective participation in vocational skills training, and the ability to effectively carry out small business related transactions. In total, 290 literacy courses have been established in the target communities of Herat and Jalalabad. In total 5,800 students enrolled (over 70% of them women) and their average final literacy test score was 80%.
The literacy training was part of the East-West Livelihoods Initiative (EWLI) project, implemented over a 40-month period in the cities of Jalalabad and in Herat, in the east and west of Afghanistan. The project is funded by the European Union and Czech Development Agency.
The goal of the initiative is to contribute to the sustainable economic and social integration of uprooted people and host communities in Afghan urban informal settlements. A complex approach and set of activities works toward this goal, ranging from community based self-help learning and savings groups to vocational skills training (including the literacy training), and support to obtain civil documentation.