272 million adults in India are illiterate. (Equivalent to 85% of the United States population not being able to read and write!)
Illiteracy is easy to separate myself from as I look back at the 22.5 years of my life spent in classrooms and institutions. I have debt and a degree that proves that I chose to put stock in my education. But for many people in India—especially mothers and daughters—attending school is not a part of their life experience because women aren’t considered worth educating.
Nearly 20 million women in Bihar—the most illiterate, impoverished state in north India—live with this reality every day.
Today, I choose to walk in the shoes of an illiterate woman living in Bihar:
I would have spent my childhood in the fields laboring, while my brother attended the local school.
I would have had a 60% chance of being married before I was 18 so I would no longer be a financial burden to my family.
I would be unable to travel by bus, make payments, save money or use a keyboard, phone, or calculator.
It’s more than likely I would be cheated at the market—unable to read signs, price tags, or the money in my hands.
I couldn’t read bottles of medicine—words that can mean life or death.
I would feel virtually insignificant—my lack of education reduces my value and ability to contribute in my own community. My employment options dwindling as I grew older.
I would be unable to sign my own name and may not know my own birthdate—calendars and clocks mean nothing to me.
I would be an illiterate parent to illiterate children. I would fear every day for their futures just as much as I feared my own.
But … there is a chance I would be offered an education as an adult.
I will be afraid and intimidated, but strengthened as my peers walked into the class with me.
Literacy will not only change my circumstances, but it will change my life.
It will reverse the cycle of poverty in my life, and give my children opportunities I never had.
It will defy gender bias and give me equal opportunities to succeed.
It will mean I am a valuable member of my community—an asset, not a burden.
I will offer to help others understand financial freedom, because of my own financial freedom.
I will understand the importance of health, clean water, hygiene, and how to treat sickness in my kids.
I will learn how to combat social evils like female infanticide, child marriage, child labor, illiteracy, and dowry abuse–in my family and my community.
I will understand my significance as a woman, as a mother, and perhaps for the first time in my life: feel like I could actually BE something.
I will discover that I am loved, honorable, and learn to find my value in God.
Literacy changes everything.
Today, I represent the 2,100 illiterate adults in Bihar who can be enrolled in literacy classes because of your giving.
Literacy Matters. She Counts. Join us.