'Adult literacy has given me a second chance to read and write'

Mary* reading the Bible as she carries her baby at her home in Kyangwali settlement


32-year-old Mary* is one of the many refugees living in the Kyangwali settlement who cannot read and write. It was not her will to miss school at a tender age, but rather the primitive cultural practices in her community back in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she hails. 

“I didn’t go to school because, in my family, girls were not allowed to study. Educating a girl-child was considered a wastage of money because they were groomed for marriage,” She says.

Like many other refugees in the settlements especially those from countries with low literacy levels, the inability to read, write and count not only affected Mary's daily life but also suffocated her livelihood as she could hardly run a successful business.

It is these gaps that the Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) program was initiated to address by increasing adult literacy on basic numeracy and literacy skills to the most vulnerable population within Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.

The FAL program is implemented by LWF under the Reconnecting Lives, Vision and Empowerment (ReLiVE) project with funding from the United States Government Department of State, Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (PRM).

The training involves practical reading, writing and calculation skills needed for people to function effectively in their community. In total, ten groups comprising of 260 individuals (190 females and 70 males), including Mary were trained for six months. To Mary, the opportunity was such a blessing.

“I heard the information about adult learning from my neighbour, and I felt the urge to enrol for the program.

At first, I feared because I had never held a pen, but I wanted to learn how to read and write, mostly the Bible,” Recollects Mary.

Mary* while practising how to write


Since then, the skills have not only helped to strengthen her faith and brought her closer to God because she can read and interpret the bible verses during church services but also do activities in daily life easily. 

“I can now read drug prescriptions, and signposts,” she adds. 

With the literacy skills at hand, Mary notes that she has recorded less errors and waste in her business. Mary also promises to share the skills with other members by helping them to understand the bible scriptures and work as an adult literacy instructor within her community.