As the rise of ISIS forced many people to flee their homes, internally-displaced people fled to camps in northern Iraq. The majority of refugees and IDPs are from small villages and most of the female population were unable to attend school due to traditional, conservative policies, a lack of financial resources, or violent conflict. As many of the women now find themselves solely responsible for their family, the lack of education has potential disastrous consequences for their future.
When Lotus Flower arrived in the Rwanga Community camp, the team spoke with a large number of female IDPs who must stay at home with their families but have a desire for education. In order to meet this need, we created a women’s adult literacy course to teach students how to read and write in Arabic and Kurdish. The courses target beginner and intermediate-level students and we provide all materials, including stationery and textbooks. Since then, we have expanded our adult literacy courses to operate in each of our centres and serve a diverse community of refugee and IDP women.
The main objective of the literacy course is to provide a safe and supportive environment for women who were unable to attend school earlier in their lives to learn how to read and write. By the end of the course, they are able to comprehend the alphabet, numbers, and write simple sentences.
As the program provides a pathway to basic literacy, it opens the door to further educational opportunities, acts as a platform to raise awareness on women’s rights and health education, and provides a necessary skill for future employment opportunities. The graduates have the opportunity to engage more confidently with the community and participate in new ways. Since launching in January 2017, the literacy course has become one of the most popular programs held in the Lotus Flower Centres. The centres receive new requests to attend the course every day.
Subhe is 65-years-old and attended the literacy course for more than 3 months. Prior to the course, she could not read or write at all. As she explained to us with a smile, “Whenever my children would call me, I wished to be able to read on the phone who is calling. I was obliged to say many names until finally I mentioned the correct one. My sons and daughter [made] fun of me because I couldn’t recognize them.” After graduating, she is pleased to now be able to read the caller ID on her cell phone and surprise her children.
Adol is 40-years-old and attended the course for two months. She always wanted to be able to read the headlines on TV: “I like watching TV and I always dreamed of being able to read it – it’s much more interesting when you can listen and read correctly.” According to her, the course helped her reach this goal.
Sosen is a 30-year-old mother of 3 whose son is currently attending primary school. She chose to attend the literacy course in order to help her son with his schoolwork. “No one in our family attended school. I want my children to be educated so as to have a brighter future. I want to help my son and teach him the alphabet and words at home. This is why I attended the literacy course and will continue doing so,” she explained to our team, “I’m very happy that now I can read and write and help my son. I teach him at home and help him to learn what I learned in the center. I’m finally able to do it! I always dreamed of being able to understand his books.” Sosen is very hopeful that her son will be successful in the future as she continues to support his education.