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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth's Library

Theresa's Story

At the age of 39, Theresa found herself in a Malawi village widowed, illiterate, and without skills to provide a living for herself or her family. Sadly, this is not an uncommon story, many widows in Africa share Theresa's plight.

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Theresa was fortunate to find a job as a cleaner at a local school. Recognizing that without the ability to read and write, her options to earn a living would be limited. Not able to find a literacy class that she could afford, she asked to be a student in the school - joining the primary school class of 5 and 6 year old children.

Many adults in the community laughed at Theresa, but she was determined to learn. She passed three levels, and proudly ranked number 3 out of 35 upon graduating from Standard 3. At the graduation ceremony, she stunned the audience by standing and speaking, " Many of you laugh at me, but I am determined to learn. I can already read many children's books from the library, and now I want to encourage my fellow widows and other women to also learn to read and write. I am waiting for the library to re-open and the new literacy class to begin." At the end of the ceremony, it was Theresa, who gave the closing prayer.

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The importance of literacy for an individual and a community has been recognized by ELI from the beginning of our ministry, and each library project is asked to begin an adult literacy class as soon as possible. The community response in each location has been overwhelming. Susu Village, Zambia has a growing class and the mobile library program has provided resources to two other villages. There are already 25 adults now registered for the adult literacy class that will be offered at the ELI Library in Malawi when the government lifts the travel ban.

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Click on the link to read the amazing story of the Domboshava Literacy Ladies and how literacy has given them hope for their future education and opportunities to thrive in their communities.

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Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.

Kofi Annan

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Libraries and literacy go together!

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