“Lighting the candle of knowledge for others, we defeat the darkness of illiteracy.” Thoraya, our literacy trainer, with her participants at Wad Bashir literacy circle.
Thoraya is one of fifteen Women’s Education Partnership literacy workers providing practical literacy training for women from some of the poorest communities in Khartoum.
The success of our development through literacy program depends on the incredible skill and dedication of facilitators like Thoraya. On International Literacy Day, this blogpost is dedicated to all our facilitators.
Read about the vital role of literacy in development in Writing the Wrongs
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who can’t read or write with this powerful two-minute video: What if you suddenly couldn’t read or write?
Learn more about International Literacy Day 2019
Thoraya Talks about her Literacy Work
This is a literacy post for Women’s Education Partnership
Wad Bashir circle developing numeracy skills through beading craftwork
Learn how literacy training makes a difference in Literacy Changes Lives
Learn how our participants develop their income generating skills while reviving traditional Sudanese crafts in Weaving Brighter Futures
All photographs in this blog are copyright Imogen Thurbon and may not be reproduced without written permission
Thoraya, Literacy Worker for Women’s Education Partnership
As well as working full time, raising a young family, and studying English when she can grab a minute, Thoraya is a literacy facilitator for women living in some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. Her dream is to go back to university one day to further her studies.
I was privileged to attend her literacy circle several times and each time was struck by her careful, empathetic but rigorous approach. The circle dynamic she created was one of warm, open but challenging dialogue. As one participant told me, “We are a family. If someone doesn’t come, we go and knock on their door and make sure they’re OK.”
Thoraya, you very kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog. Thank you! Why did you become a literacy facilitator and what do you enjoy most about your work?
I became a women’s literacy facilitator because I have a really strong desire to help women to learn how to read and write so they can develop themselves. The best things in my work is seeing their awareness of the importance of learning and when they learn I know they will have a better life and know their rights.
Learn more about how literacy can empower women in Voices
Our literacy program scrupulously respects the cultural values of our participants whilst enabling them to take fuller roles in their community.
Tell us a little about yourself.
As for me, I am a very simple person. I like life and I want to see things in life as they should be – for example for people to have a clean environment, healthy society, punctuality and to do good things for other people. This is why I became a facilitator. Lighting the candle of knowledge for others, we defeat the darkness of illiteracy. But to do this properly I need to study a lot and have a lot of knowledge and that’s why I want to continue my studies.
Jebel Aulia Literacy circle – one of the poorest districts of Khartoum
The last time I met you, you were reading Dickens in English.
Well, I like English literature because through it I can go round the world and learn a lot of things such as other cultures, behaviors, history, and I get to learn more language – nice expressions, vocabulary….
Our Bilingual English Spanish booklet produced at no cost by volunteers for Women’s Education Partnership
What do you think drives women to join literacy circles?
I think the reason why women join is that they realize how important learning is but each one comes with her own personal story. They come from different areas and really difficult situations. Most of them have to work to support their families by selling things in the market, or they work cleaning or in schools or making handicrafts – all this gives them life experience but the effect is they never had the chance to learn. Their learning has been absent because of their hard lives.
Learning sentence construction and word formation
Learn more about the lives of our participants in The River of Life
What’s the hardest part of your work?
The biggest challenge facilitators face is when we try to encourage our participants to think critically about their lives and how they spend their time and to look at different ways of doing things so they can be more productive and contribute to the community. Also older learners need more time and patience and sometimes are a little set in their ways so it can be difficult. See Grandmother’s School for more on our older learners.
Wad Bashir literacy circle working on handicrafts for income generation
Finally, what suggestions do you have for Women’s Education Partnership to help develop our work?
I would like to see Women’s Education Partnership offer a more continuous syllabus as this helps the women not to interrupt their learning and to have more books for them to read. And for us, the facilitators, it would be good to have more continuous training courses too.
Literacy facilitators at one of our regular refresher training sessions
Thank you, once again, Thoraya, and all our facilitators. Your views, experience and expertise are at the heart of our program.
Read more on our website: Iman and Alzeama’s stories
If you would like to read more about the theoretical underpinnings of our work and more personal testimonies from our participants, you might enjoy my article in Sudan Studies Society UK: SS57_Thurbon