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Friday, September 7, 2012

International Literacy Day

One of my favorite memories as a kid is the bed time stories my parents used to read to me or how my mother tells it, the stories I would read to them because they were reading it wrong. I used to love when I was finally old enough to go to the school library, I would always be the last back to class, taking an age to decide what book I would read. Since I was a little girl, not much has changed, I still spend hours looking at books in the library and always come home with a pile of books to read. For me escaping into the world of the book I'm reading is my favorite thing to do, the smell of a new or old book, the feeling of accomplishment when you've finished that book that has taken an age to get through. I am so blessed that my parents taught my older sister and I to read from such a young age and that they always encouraged us to read and write. I guess I never really thought what life would be like if I didn't have my books, if I couldn't write a letter, or if I couldn't write postcards to my family when I travel. I never thought about what it would be like if my parents had never read us bed time stories, or taught us to read..until now. Today is International Literacy Day,its a day dedicated to ensure that literacy stays a priority on the national and international agenda. Did you know that there are 1 billion people that are unable to read and that the majority of those live in the developing world? What would you if you were 1 of that 1 billion?

What if you had never been inside a library, had never read a school book, had never seen a pop up book? These two little girls Mustakema and Berkesha, had never seen books with pop up figures in them until we brought them to Ethiopia. It was amazing to see their smiles and hear their laughs when we showed them how the animals in the book popped up, they kept trying to catch them. The girls weren't the only two who were excited about the books, many of the adults we met had never seen such colorful, pop up books and were as equally excited. In that moment I realized that the children weren't the only ones that didn't have access to books, many of the adults even working ones were unable to afford books for their children,

Youth Release is trying to change that, through the opening of the library at the youth center, children are now able to enjoy the experience of browsing through the books, they can take them home, they can use the school books from the library so they can study. Children are teaching their parents and younger siblings how to read and write and now have the resources to do it. We want children in Dire Dawa to have the experiences we had when we were children, even if its something as simple as reading a book. Many people take the ability to read and write for granted, but imagine if you couldn't read to your children before they went to bed, if you never experienced the joy when your child spelt/read their first word. 

Next time you're buying a book, why not think of children that don't have their own books and donate one to them! Happy International Literacy Day, enjoy reading those books today and remember how lucky you are that you can read and write! Remember how lucky you are, that your children can read, that you can teach them to read. Today is a day to make a change, today spread the word about International Literacy Day, make sure the world knows about the 1 Billion people that cannot read or write and make sure that there is #educationforall. You have a chance to make a difference, spread the word.

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