International Literacy Day is September 8 – it is a time to focus attention on the need of 800 million of the world’s adults that cannot read or write. Women compose 64% of this group that are unable to read such simple things as signs in a market place and lack skills that make them vulnerable to disease, hunger and extreme poverty. Over 72 million of the world’s children are not in school. Local Rotarians are supporting Rotary International’s initiative to change this situation by making active efforts to reduce illiteracy, empowering schools to meet needs of students and assisting communities to provide a positive environment for literacy.
Nelson Daybreak Rotarians are concerned about the situation in Haiti where 47% of the adults cannot read or write, with rates in the rural areas being even more staggering. Illiteracy condemns many to unemployment, hunger, sickness, fear, slavery and continuation of a life of abject poverty. Following the 2010 earthquake, most Haitians are wondering if life will ever be normal again. To assist Haitians to take a small step towards creating normalcy, the Rotary Club of Nelson Daybreak has partnered with Kootenay Christian Fellowship and Haiti Arise, to provide the salary of a fully qualified teacher for a year. Haiti Arise, a non-profit faith based organization, with relief fund grants from CIDA, is in the process of building an elementary school that will include 5 classrooms and accommodate 200 children that have already registered for the October 1 start date.
The structure is made of wood, which Haitians deem to be safer than the concrete structures that tumbled so readily in the earthquake. There is still much to be done including desks to be built and uniforms to be made. In January 2011, some members of Nelson Daybreak will journey to Haiti to ensure that funds are being well spent and determine future support for the project.