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For this year’s International Literacy Day, we focus on the story of John John, written by Warren Waghi, an Adult Literacy teacher with Anglicare PNG, and Darwin Gabore, the Port Moresby Adult Literacy Centre Manager*.
Escape from a life of crime
John John is the eldest child in his family. He was in primary school when his parents divorced. His father left his mother, and remarried another woman when he was in grade 6.
Left without the primary bread-winner, John John struggled to continue his education, but eventually had to withdraw as there was no money for bus fares or daily meals.
Hungry and desperate, he joined up with the gangs of “youth boys” on the streets, and soon was involved in petty crimes. He survived on the food that he stole, feeding himself with whatever he could find.
For 10 years, John John was heavily involved in petty crimes and other criminal activities of the street gangs. Deep inside, however, he knew that this was not the way to a successful life.
In 2013, an opportunity arose to study Business Literacy Sustainability Training, run through an Urban Youth Development Project. The course sparked John John’s interest immediately, and he enrolled to attend. The course gave him hope, giving him the courage to turn away from a life of crime, and showing him the importance of education.
In 2015, John John became a student with the Anglicare Literacy Centre. While studying with Anglicare at Level 4 Literacy, he was so inspired by the teaching he was receiving, and his old mindsets continued to change. The devotional prayer time before the class, the holistic teaching of life skills, hygiene, proper nutrition, healthcare and protection of vulnerable people like children that was given in classes, and of course the confidence of sound literacy and numerous skills have given him hope and a sense of direction. It helped him to see that everything is possible through God, and that nothing is solved through crime.
When asked about his dreams for the future, and how he liked the Adult literacy course, John John responded;
“I was so pleased with the Anglicare Literacy Centre as it provided me a second chance in education, and a pathway to a successful life. After completing level 4, I will do my vocational training and become Air Conditioning and Refrigerator technician.
“They [my street peers] have noticed me coming to school and realized that I have changed my habits. I have already told some of my peers to attending Anglicare Literacy Centre to further their education and get employed.”
ABM is proud to support Adult Literacy programs in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Myanmar, and invite you to join with us in prayer and financial support to keep this vital work going.
*Edits on this update were done by Jess Melas, ABM’s Project Marketing Officer.