My wife Rose and I are Americans who are learning Hindi in Lucknow. Before coming to India, I worked as a teacher, a charter school co-founder, and a site director for an education-based NGO. For some time now, my wife and I have been volunteering for the Global Dream literacy initiative by Devi Sansthan in our slum.
Most of the children and adults in our basti have either never attended school, or have only attended the first few years of school. One of the children I work with is a 7 year old girl whose family is very poor. They have seen great misfortune in their lives, and rarely does she get the attention she needs, so she skips school and her behaviour is often terrible. However, when I initiated the literacy program with her, I saw her focus her attention for the first time, even though she could only recognize two letters at first. Since then, the attention that I have seen her give to every lesson is amazing. It was very difficult for her to learn how to focus her mind to read a word for the first time. It took her three lessons to be able to put letters together correctly, but today, she is successfully reading two-letter words.
Another of my students is a 15 year old boy who has been a child labourer his whole life and never attended school. He didn't know most of the letters when we started, but you could still tell how smart he was. By the end of the first lesson, he was already reading four-letter words and was excited to learn more. He doesn't have much free time, but he is so eager to learn that he has made it a point to do more lessons on the days that he has off. Rose has introduced both women and teenage girls, who have never had the opportunity to go to school, to the Global Dream booklet.
Rose says, "The Global Dream literacy program has created beautiful opportunities, like making a married woman who had never gone to school before, go through a booklet for half an hour. It took her merely 30 minutes to correctly read a few words.I wish you could all witness the smile of accomplishment and self-worth on her face."
Some people are able to acquire literacy faster than others. Whether they get it on the first try or the second, or not get it at all until the fourth lesson, the joy you see when they are finally able to read words for themselves is wonderful. It might take only a month or two to give someone a gift that will continue to pay off for the rest of their lives. Who wouldn't want to give that gift?
Jon & Rose
"One 35 year old man had previously asked me for help with Hindi documents and couldn't even recognize his own name. After a 20 minute session, he was able to read all the two letter words and some of the three letter words. He was so excited, that he wanted to keep the book for practice and to teach his wife and son."
On April 30th I started on book one with a 25 year old man who got a 0/30 on the pretest. We only did about 8 sessions over the last three weeks but yesterday May 19th, he took the post-test for book one and scored a 29/30! He has shown a great desire and commitment to learn to read and seems to be quite proud of his achievements. In the evenings he said he is teaching his wife what he has learned, which I believe as she often will sit nearby and sound out the words with him.
So many children in the slum want to learn to read that the main problem is keeping overly enthusiastic children who have already started the program, from interrupting other mentoring sessions by blurting out the answers.
“The day I started to teach the learner I saw tears rolling down her cheeks. I asked her why she was crying. She replied very gently that people used to make fun of her because her Hindi was not that good. After a couple of weeks of teaching her, she told me with pride in her eyes that there is no one who can make fun of her anymore. I feel a sense of achievement because after a week of putting all my energy into teaching her, she can now read a newspaper with ease.”
Elina Singh 12 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 9
It was quite a good experience being a mentor. I taught her everything I could and it is a nice feeling to see a person happy because of your help. She has a passion for learning. She wants to learn more and more. The learner’s name is Madhu and she is from a rural background. She is a maid and she is 40 years old. She is a fighter as she has struggled a lot in her life. Her husband is an alcoholic and is up to no good. She is the only one that works for her whole family. She spends the whole day working to earn enough money to feed her family as well as put her kids in school. She herself had never been to school so this was a great opportunity to make such a nice person like her literate.
Manjari Agrawal 13 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 40
I felt very happy to teach my maid Tara. It was nice teaching her, but I also learned things like dedication and time management from her.
Vanshika Singh 8 years old Study Hall. Age of the learner: 45
The two boys that I made literate were Ram Prakash who is ten years old and Anmol Srivastav who is four years old. I really enjoyed this experience and all students should do it if they get such a nice opportunity.
Anushka Mishra 11 years old Study Hall. Age of the learners:10 & 4
My experience with Priyanka was very good. This was the first time I was being a mentor for someone. I smiled at the thought that I was educating someone who did not know how to read or write. I wish that I can do this again for someone.
Aarti Singh 13 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 8
I am very happy that GLOBAL DREAM gave me this chance to teach these illiterate children. It was a new experience for me. I will try to take out time to teach poor people so that the next generation can have a better future.
Sanketika Singh VIII- A Study Hall Age of the learners: 7 & 5
The person I taught was none other than my trusted maid. It was a great experience for me. We had a lot of fun together. She was a very keen and fast learner. After each lesson she used to ask for one more lesson and would extend the lesson 40-50 minutes sometimes.
Gaurie Singh 13 years old Study Hall. Age of the learner: 40
Adnaan an eight year old boy had been withdrawn from his school because of the unstable financial conditions of his family. I got the opportunity to teach him using the dreambooks. It feels great when after all the ups and downs, the result is fruitful. The best part of this journey is that Adnaan is BACK TO SCHOOL.
Ramisha Haider 13 years old Loreto Convent Age of the learner: 8
I made five people literate over the summer. My youngest learner was called Saras Bajpai and he is only five years old. After seeing his eagerness to learn more his parents promised to send him to school and let him study till the level he wishes to keep studying.
My next learner was DharyaKhare who is seven years old. Dharya started off slow but as time passed he was able to understand as much as the others. His parents were very happy to see the improvement in him.Pratibha Kumari Das was my next learner and she is thirteen years old.
She has a lot of potential but she kept repeating the same mistakes. I had to scold her once and from then on she was really focused. When I first met Mohit who is 16 years old, I was shocked that a boy as old as me didn’t know how to write his own name. Slowly I was able to see an improvement in him.
His parents started to send him to school which made me feel really proud. My fifth and final learner was SushilaRaidas who is 43 years old. She had never been to school so in the beginning she lacked confidence. But after she finished learning from me the difference I saw in her was immense.
Kawalpreet Kaur 15 years old Bal Vidya Mandir Age of the learners: 5,7, 13, 16 & 43
As this project says that ‘no one should be left behind’ I found a girl called Gunjan who was very eager to study. But unfortunately her parents were not able to send her to school because they lived in a village where girls were not allowed to go to school. Gunjan found it really tough in the beginning but she has learned so much that she can now read a newspaper. Through this experience I have got to know Gunjan and her family really well and they even thanked me for educating Gunjan.
Shivangi Kashyap 11 years old Loreto Convent Age of the learner: 7
I loved doing the 'Dream Project' because I saw the joy and opportunities a person gets by doing this project. For simple things like making groceries list or reading something in the bill she was dependent on others. But now she can do these things on her own. I feel sad that some people don't follow up with such.
I loved doing the 'Dream Project' because I saw the joy and opportunities a person gets by doing this project. For simple things like making groceries list or reading something in the bill she was dependent on others. But now she can do these things on her own. I feel sad that some people don't follow up with such a project. It’s not a big deal to spend 10-15 min of your time to help someone become literate.
Vidushee Singh 17 years old Canossa School. Age of the learner: 30
I went to many houses in search of a learner but I faced refusal each time. I had lost all hope in finding a learner. My family heard about my problems in finding a learner and they encouraged me to go a nearby village. There I found two students. I was very nervous to talk to their families. But they were very friendly and allowed me to teach the two students. When I started teaching them I was very excited, but I faced many difficulties but with my will power I succeeded.
Anuradhika Yadav 13 years old Doon Valley High School Age of the learner: 5
My learner Shabeena was a ten year old girl that had never been to school. When I started teaching her she couldn’t even recognize her own name. Starting out she was very playful and wasn’t that eager to learn. But after her first session she took a real interest in learning Hindi. She was so excited that she took the book to teach her elder sister Ruksana.
Isha Kesarwani 13 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 10
"The special bond that has developed between us will always make us remember each other. There is a feeling of gratefulness that I see in their eyes. Seeing their self-confidence increase after learning how to read makes me feel really proud. I thank Dream Project for letting me do such great social service at such a young age."
YashibaKhulbe 14 years old Loreto Convent Lucknow Age of the learner: 5 & 8
"It was a learning experience for me as I understood the challenges that my teachers face while teaching us. Now I feel even more grateful and blessed to have the opportunity of being educated in a good school. This experience has given me a strong motivation to pay back for what society has given to me." literate
Aqsa Siddiqui 17 years old Canossa School Age of the learner: 36
Anjali is a smart little girl. She is a very quick learner and very responsive. She is keen to learn new things. Her brother Alok on the other hand was hardly ever seemed interested in studying. He was always asking for holidays. So sometimes I just played the memory game with play cards so that they would come back again to study next time. I found out that being a teacher is a terribly tough job. Each little detail has to be taken into account. It was a good experience. It required an immense amount of patience which I sometimes lacked. But I started liking the kids I taught a lot.
Surabhi Sanghi 15 years old Nurture International School Age of the learner: 7 & 7
This summer I took upon this mission each one teach one. My learner’s name was Himanshu Shukla. He had trouble in reading but after using the Global Dream books he is now reading very well. His parents thanked me for my effort and it made me happy because it was my first experience in teaching a child.
Snehal Soni 13 years old City International School Age of the learner: 6
It was a very nice experience. We have a special bond and when I look at my learner I can proudly say that I taught that child.
Laxmi Mishra 14 years old City International School Age of the learner: 30
Kasim is one of my neighbors and I decided to teach him. He didn’t go to school because he couldn’t afford to. His Hindi improved from day to day and now he can read a newspaper, even though he does it slowly he still does it correctly without making many mistakes.
Prashant Kumar 14 years old City International School Age of the learner: 5
My experience was very good. I enjoyed this dream project and I learnt things about teaching an illiterate person. My parents were very proud of me for doing this. The learner was very good. He is my first student that I have taught.
Saiyam Gupta 10 years old City International School Age of the learner: 12
I had a very nice experience with this Dream Project. I learnt how to teach a person. Now I know how much hard work our teachers put in to teach us in school. I liked teaching this project to an illiterate person and helping them so they can be useful to society.
Mhd. Safeeq 12 years old City International School Mohanlalganj. Age of the learner: 9
For this project it took me a lot of time to find a student who was ready to learn. My learner’s name is Rahul. He is hardworking but he has very poor memory. This is one reason that he is taking longer to grasp things. He did very well in learning some basic letters,
Tanishi Gola 13 years old Study Hall. Age of the learner: 12
I had a nice experience. I had taught a ten year old boy named Ramit. He didn’t know how to read. He couldn’t even recognize Hindi letters. But after 30-40 minutes lessons, he can now recognize Hindi letters. He also couldn’t write his own name. But after teaching him he is now able to write his name and he is eager to lean mathematics and English as well. His self confidence has increased.
Srajan Dikshit 13 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 10
I taught a girl named Priya who is eight years old. I didn’t find it very tough to teach her the Global Dream book 1. She understood everything really quickly. The second book was more of a challenge. But gradually she learnt more and more. After 3 weeks we managed to complete book 2. I felt as proud of myself for teaching an illiterate as Priya felt in managing to read a newspaper for the first time. I really want to thank my school and the Global Dream project for giving me this chance.
Tanisha Yadav 14 years old St. Paul’s College. Age of the learner: 8
My learner’s name is Soni. She is the daughter of our maid aunty. She is ten years old. She was recently enrolled in a school so even though she was ten years old she didn’t have much knowledge of vyanjan and swar. I had a very nice experience to teach her, I felt like a teacher. I had lots of fun.
Raashi Sharma 9 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 10
I taught Sunny Rawat who is only 5 years old.He is the grandson of my maid and he used to come to our house with his grandmother. I asked them if I could teach Sunny and they readily agreed. I taught him how to read a newspaper. First he read the headlines, then he proceeded to the inner pages. He read it well. He made is full effort to pronounce each word. He really enjoyed this process of learning and the smile on his face made me feel proud and satisfied. At the end he promised me that he will read the newspaper daily and will work hard in whatever he does.
Naina Kumar 16 years old Loreto Convent Age of the learner: 5
I taught my friend’s maid’s son whose name is Harsh Gupta. He has been to a government school before but currently he is not going to school. I taught him how to write his name in Hindi as well as English. He wasn’t easy to teach because he is very naughty but he is also very intelligent. He is a very nice person and very kind and it was a pleasure to make him literate.
Manya Mahajan 12 years old Study Hall Age of the learner: 5.