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My living shall not be in vain

Thursday, January 14, 2016

“If I can help somebody, as I pass along …Then my living shall not be in vain”—A Bazel Androzzo

As 2016 commences I pause to reflect and sincerely express my deep felt thanks to the Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) for restoring relevance to my life and reviving my faith in humanity at a time when I desperately needed it.

Before accepting the ALTA invitation to give back through literacy education, I had known about this association for many years, but I always had some reason why I could not participate… until that day.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. As I was mentally pushing myself towards my workplace, I saw a notice on the door. I was about to remove the flyer to dump it, when I hesitated as I read, “The Adult Literacy Tutors Association is seeking volunteers to teach adults to read and write.”

I paused. This time I had absolutely no excuses. I quietly removed the flyer, retreated to my office and made the call. After being told that I was calling on the very last day for registration, I knew this was it. No more procrastinating. Time to engage in an extremely exciting and enriching adventure. 

After an intense and eye-opening training session, I embarked upon a fulfilling journey - a journey on which I met some really down-to-earth, loving, caring, intelligent and remarkable individuals who on recognising they needed help, shook off their fears and shame and boarded the Alta train.

This journey enlightened me to the factors that hinder literacy. Now wherever I go, I am on the lookout for the signs of low literacy and gently offer my help. Very early in the journey, I observed a significant phenomenon. A person’s self-esteem grows dramatically once the seeds of literacy education are planted. He or she becomes more confident and is no longer afraid to express ideas and feelings. It’s like watching a baby begin to walk.

Thanks to ALTA’s team-teaching philosophy and practice, I can boldly declare that adults from different walks of life can indeed work together as a team for the greater good. Thanks to ALTA, I was reminded and re-educated that the letters of the alphabet can be sounded out. I also learned that whenever I encounter a ‘big’ word which I cannot pronounce, I should not skip it over, but syllable divide the word and use phonics to decode it. Again thanks to ALTA, I was introduced to grammatical tips that were long forgotten or never learnt. So you see, in giving back, I was blessed! Finally, thank you Alta because through my weekly, two-day commitment I realised that there is more to life than our daily work. Working in your chosen career is good, but pausing to uplift another person is better! There is an inexplicable joy that an ALTA volunteer experiences when he/she witnesses the liberating power of literacy in the lives of men and women.

Grace Lawrence, 

ALTA Tutor


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