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|Ray Raymond makes a palm leaf mat for his Literacy class|
Ray Rayman is 27 years old and lives in Wasaga, West Vanua Lava, in the Torba Province of Vanuatu. Ray grew up in this small village, and had no formal education when he was young. All Ray was taught by his elders was how to farm his land to earn his living. In 2010, a Literacy program was established in his community. After listening to the first ‘Literacy Awareness’ session given by the Anglican Church of Melanesia, ABM’s partner in Vanuatu, he made up his mind to attend the new literacy class.
The class began later that year, and Ray was one of the most committed students during this time. Some of his friends quit, but he continued and experienced many changes. He gained confidence, and became a valuable person in the community, where literacy is rare. Ray began to read words, sentences and finally paragraphs written in his native language, Bislama. He then began to learn numeracy, exploring numbers and simple equations. In 2013, he attended a private training centre where he learned basic carpentry skills, and afterwards was employed by a local construction company on his home island.
In November 2015, when Ray was asked to share his experience, he responded with a happy and joyful expression. He told of how his life was changed through the Literacy program, allowing him to earn a good income. Yet he was still concerned for his friends and families back in his own village. They were still struggling with illiteracy, and limited in their opportunities as a result. As Ray was now a leader in the community, appointed by the elders due to his new capabilities, he wanted to ensure others had the opportunities given to him through the Literacy Program. Ray asked to be trained as a literacy teacher, so he could pass on these valuable skills.
In February 2016, Ray was able to receive this training, and he began teaching the program in Wasaga, West Vanua Lava, as of April 2016. As a young person himself, he encourages all the youth to attend the Literacy program, and assures them that they will experience many positive changes if they persist. Ray expressed deep gratitude, because he was educated through the Literacy program and is now able to teach the same program to others. If he had not joined the program, he will never have experienced this change, and would not be able to help his community.
ABM would like to thank supporters and the Australian Government for the funding that made this program possible. The transformation that is happening in individuals and communities all over Vanuatu is confirmation of the vital need for literacy skills, creating new opportunities and an escape from a life of poverty.