World Literacy Foundation – tackling illiteracy in Uganda

Right now, in this day and age:
20 million classrooms lack basic educational resources.
In Africa, 11 million children leave school without completing basic primary education.
In 2010, 61 million primary school age children were not enrolled.
59 million children cannot read, write, or do basic maths.
1.2 billion children have little or no access to basic learning resources, electricity or internet.
1 out of 5 people in the world cannot read or write.

This post is going to be slightly different to usual. Today I’m going to shamelessly talk about this charity I work for that is battling all of those statistics that I just listed; the World Literacy Foundation.

This year 100% of the money raised for them will go to the Sun Book Tablet project currently running in Northern Uganda where there is the highest poverty and illiteracy rate in the country. The Sun Book tablet is an innovative, low-cost, solar powered, tablet with pre-loaded educational content. It contains hundreds of books, learning applications, lessons plans, student assessments and many other interactive tools. Powered with solar chargers and pre-loaded with educational content, the Sun Book tablet has been designed and tailored to meet the needs of classrooms in “off the grid” settings that lack electricity and the Internet. The Sun Book tablet aims to provide the most enriching and empowering learning experiences to children in off the grid environments. Greater access to quality education provided by the Sun Book tablet provides beneficiaries with an opportunity to acquire the literacy and numeracy skills needed to succeed in school, enhance social inclusion, secure employment and ultimately bring themselves, family, community and country out of poverty.

Apart from the obvious benefits of curing illiteracy, there are many others. For example it will be able to promote gender equality, improve health, increase employment, reduce poverty and create a whole new future for these children.

Gender Equality
It is undeniable that education helps to tackle the issue of gender discrimination, and it promotes changing attitudes in young children and lead to equal opportunities and benefits for both men and women. Literacy practices enhance gender equality and empower both men and women to empower one another.

Improved Health
Literacy significantly enhances a person’s ability to understand, apply and access health-related information. In impoverished communities, mortality rates for young children under five-years-old are considerably lower when literacy rates are prevalent. Literacy leads to an increased awareness of disease and a stronger initiative to seek quality healthcare for their family and community.

Employment Opportunities
Literacy significantly correlates with employment, and as reading and writing are vital skills in the search for meaningful employment, it is a necessary that we continue to promote the importance of education around the world. Literate individuals are able to access to a wider range of career choices, and are more likely to champion for equal pay and fair work rights for themselves and their family.

Reduced Poverty
Literacy allows children, communities and countries to lift themselves out of poverty. Those who live with high literacy skills are likely to have access to employment and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. When children feel empowered through literacy, they will empower the wider community and bring around real change in the world.

A Whole New Future
Through literacy, a child can create a new future. They are able to fulfil their potential and achieve their biggest dreams. When a child is empowered through literacy, they enrich the lives of their family, community and nation.

As I have explored in previous posts, I have a great passion for literature and think that it’s a huge injustice that there are those who cannot read and therefore miss out of all the benefits of literature. This is me trying to tell you about the gravity of the problem and to a lesser extent letting you know that you can help my donating to my crowdfunding page here.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com:443/world-literacy-foundation?utm_id=63

(In the interest of copyright a lot of this information has been given to me by the WLF charity itself and I’m just sharing with you what they’ve shared with me.)

Travelling alone, what people don’t tell you. 

Travelling alone according to every millennial article you will read will, is supposed to be the most amazing, perfect and life changing experience of your life. Whenever I asked people what it was like to travel alone, they never hinted that there was any down side.The truth is, it is amazing, it is life changing but it is far from perfect.When travelling alone, I was confronted with something that I’ve never had to face before and that was being alone. Like really being alone and isolated. Before I went away, when I was at uni, if I came home to an empty house where all my housemates were out, I’d get really down and lonely, even if it was for just a few hours. And if you’re like me and get lonely like that, odds on you’ll find this whole new level of loneliness really hard. Some people are ok with that but personally I’ve never been very good at spending lots of time by myself.

People would ask me if I ever got lonely when travelling and the truth is of course I did. Especially when there was a night or so when there was a few nights and I ended up being in a room on my own for various reasons. You don’t have your friends, family and support network right beside you like you normally do. You have your phone sure but with time difference and stuff that’s not always gonna work out well.

A lot of the time I felt like I didn’t have a ‘safe place’ to run to when it all got a bit much and have no shoulder to cry on. But as a friend told me, you have to make ‘yourself’ your own safe place. Easier said than done, especially when you’re in a scary place but true all the same. It took a while but I think I did it. You have to be ok with being on your own and be less dependent on the company of others. And you have to be able to be friends with yourself and be able to enjoy your own company.

One of the biggest things I was faced with was making all the decisions. More importantly, if something went wrong, it was all on me. I would have to find a solution and fix it. It was scary but you know, it forced me to grow up and take responsibility.

I made to be ok with actually spending time by myself, it was really hard at first but it got easier. When I wrote the first draft of this, I was chilling in a restaurant, eating, drinking and writing this by myself, which I know a lot of people do but I’ve never been very comfortable with it, and I was totally fine, I didn’t mind it at all.

If given the choice I would always choose to spend a night with friends than alone and I think I will always be that way. However I think the crucial element here is that there will be some times that you will be alone.You won’t always be fortunate to spend all your free time with loved ones, you will spend some days alone.

I know I’m making travelling alone sound less than appealing but it really wasn’t. Travelling alone forced you to make lots of friends which I wouldn’t have done so eagerly otherwise and made a lot of closer friendships. I learned a lot about myself and gained a lot of independence. But I’m not gonna ramble on about all the benefits of it because you can find them everywhere. It was amazing, it really was, I’m just trying to tell you what everyone else seems to be avoiding.

‘So brown and so happy’ – my grans description of me travelling, May 2017

So after 3 countries, 13 flights, 19 airports, god knows how many beds/places I’ve fallen asleep, countless memories and laughter and just a few tears my travelling time came to an end. Today marks one month since my return to England and this post seems to be coming late but it took a lot of time everything sink in. This post is going to be relatively short but I just want to put an appreciation post out there about my experiences.

I know how ridiculously lucky I am. I know that I have had a once in a life time unbelievable experience. My heart is so full and I am so grateful for everything that I have done. I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I have taken all of this for granted. The experiences I’ve had have been absolutely incredible. They have changed my perspective on things and made me look at life differently. I can honestly say that I have returned from this trip a different person. I know that a cliché thing to say but seriously, it would be weird if all these crazy experiences, travelling alone, volunteering and meeting so many different amazing people hadn’t changed me! I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I have a clearer picture of what I want and what I want to achieve but I also have learnt to enjoy everything in the moment, not always being like, oh, I can’t wait for this part of my life to start. Of course, I still look forward to stuff and get excited about the future but definitely not overlook what’s going on around me now. I used to panic about absolutely everything but now, I’m a lot calmer and I deal with problems a lot better. I also like to believe I’ve become more compassionate and more understanding towards others and empathise with their problems more. But also I have learnt that it is ok to be selfish sometimes and to take time to look after myself, which was never really a priority for me before.

But I wouldn’t have been able to have any of these experiences or grow as a person at all if it weren’t for all of the incredible people that I met along the way. You made it what it was and, I want to thank each and every one of you. My heart is so full and I am so grateful. From my volunteering buddies who I got extremely close to even after a few days, I will never forget, to the guys I met in hostels all over Australia, to people I met on tours, trips, even the people who helped me when I was lost and didn’t even know their names. Thank you to all of you. There is so much love in this world and travellers share the most of it. Everyone wants to help each other, even though everyone’s in the same boat of poor-ness and worry. You guys are some of the best people I have ever met and the people who have the most love in their hearts. I love you all.

From Broome to Darwin, exploring the Northern Territory 

Picking up where I left off last week, and carrying on my Australian adventure; when my time in Perth was over I headed to Broome, which honestly, was great but so tiny. I only spent two nights there and that was enough. I did go to the world oldest open air cinema, something that I’d always wanted to do which was great. The building was still all original and it had the original style deckchairs and I watched ‘Beauty and the Beast’ under the stars. The town was cute, there and some shops and a few small independent art galleries in which the artists were still doing their work. I love exploring new artists and supporting them. And I saw the most incredible sunset. I was to see many sunsets and sunrises in my time travelling but honestly, this one was by far the best. The sky was perfectly clear and there were about five or six colours streaked across it, and then came my absolute favourite time of night, when you can still see part of the sunset on the horizon but the sky has also started to blacken and the stars have begun to come out. Honestly, beautiful. The friends I made there were the best. Took me under their wing the first hour I got there and essentially looked after me haha. Took me round places with them in their van, we had BBQs. Watched sunsets, had drinks and made friends for life. It was fantastic.After that I went to Darwin. Well, that was crazy. I of course, checked into the main party hostel and was so happy I did. Within 2 hours of landing, I was drunk of my ass with a group of crazy girls I’ve never met before and had the time of my life. They were mad and I had so much fun, spent a lot of money and got wasted. But the guys I met did this every night, and a lot of them were on working holiday visas. To me it looked like a working holiday visa was working shit jobs, for shit money, to spend it all on alcohol, to be hungover in bed that day, to go to back to work, to do it all again. I asked some of them how long they’d been in Australia and some answered about six months. I said, oh how much travelling have you done? They would reply none because they haven’t got any money, even though they work everyday. It all went on alcohol. $9 a shot. It made me see that I would probably never do a working holiday but I would just go back to do a tourist visa like I did before. I’m sure there are loads that love it and that a working holiday visa is something that would be perfect for them but just not for me. It seemed like it was not all the Australian traveller dream is cracked up to be!

Anyway, I had a great time in Darwin, there’s quite a bit to do! I went to the Litchfield National Park which was incredible, I love getting into nature and exploring new places so this was definitely one of my favourite things to do! I swam in waterfalls and explored new nature, I loved it. I went on a jumping crocodile tour and they leaped out of the water and wiggled like a salmon to get the meat which was awesome. I also swam with a crocodile which was absolutely terrifying but ya know, when in Rome! That was actually my attitude to pretty much everything that I saw the opportunity to do. If I was ever on the fence about doing something, I was like, when am I going to be here again and have this opportunity. Made me do things I’m not sure I’d have done otherwise!

Bit of a short one but next time will be the beginning of my East Coast adventure when my bestie came out to join me so watch this space!

 

 

Confessions of a bookaholic.

Fair warning, this is just a major novel/book/literature/story appreciation post and also partly marvelling at how much they influence pretty much everything.

I love reading, I always have done. It is a huge part of my life and one of the main reasons that I chose to do an English literature degree.

I only really started thinking about this properly recently, how literature, stories, books are such a huge part of our lives. They make up everything. The form the way we think, the way we speak, the way we feel. Even when we are children, everything that we learn are from stories we are told by our parents. Fairytales supposedly shape our moral compass and lessons when we grow up. Our culture, nature and history are all taught through stories, stories round the campfire, stories before bed, even stories we tell each other about what happened the other night.

Some people make the argument that they’d rather just watch a film but seriously, one of the best things about novels compared to films is that there is so much more to novels than meets the eye. There are so many interpretations to be drawn from them so many different ways, it’s one of my favourite things to do. There are so many meanings that can be drawn and finding them all or finding the one that means the most to you in the best part of novel reading.

It’s not only how they influence the world in such a drastic way, people greatly underestimate the power of literature. A good book or story can change how you look at the world, about how you feel about things. Good story telling can change your mood. Make you happy or sad. You can tell someone how you feel through a story.

It’s even more than that though; the therapeutic power of books is astounding. You can get lost in a good book, it can distract you from your life, you can be in another world, lead another life, become another person. If you’re feeling depressed or just a little down, they can distract you from your problems, change your mood and make you feel so much better.

The power of the written word and even verbal story telling is second to none.