Today’s International Literacy Day is celebrating how literacy drives sustainable development. With the United Nations Summit to finalise the Sustainable Development Goals looming, NGOs worldwide are joining the UN to advocate that teaching individuals to read and write is an important building block in creating sustainable societies.
9-year-old José Luis’ story is testament to the importance of education. In a Bolivian community in desperate need, he’s being equipped to become a change-maker.
José lives on K’ara K’ara, an area of Cochabamba, home to the city’s main rubbish dump.
His family are amongst the thousands who live on the side of the dump with no sewage system and very basic facilities. The local church pastor, Tomas Maldonado, describes how in the middle of such desperate poverty people seek relief and escape wherever they can. “Here drug abuse is a growing problem as teenagers fall into gangs. Crime is lurking day and night. There’s poor education amongst children and child neglect.”
Generations of José’s family have been denied access to education. His mother Francesca is completely illiterate. But thanks to a Compassion sponsor, José’s future will be very different. He’s learning to read. He wants to change his community.
José lives with his parents and six siblings in a one-roomed brick house.
Although he lives in challenging conditions, José and his siblings are very resourceful. “We bring tyres and we make our own cars to play with,” he explains.
Since he was registered into the Compassion programme, José has been taught to read and write. “At the project they give us books and school materials and they help me with my homework. We are learning to do maths, and to read.”
As well as weekly Compassion project activities, Jose’s sponsor gives him the resources and books he needs to go to the local school. José is no longer one of the 67 million children worldwide who do not have access to primary school.*
Exchanging letters with his sponsor has also helped José develop and practise his reading and writing.
José’s mother Francesca proudly explains that her son now has a better future. He can continue his studies as he grows up and bring change to K’ara K’ara. Now there’s hope in the midst of rubbish.