It is Never Too Late to Learn

YOLRED Host Celebration for 12 Never Late Graduates

Like the famous Chinese Proverb states: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” On July 20, 2019, at least 21 women and men who were formerly abducted and forcibly conscripted into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel activities, started a journey to literacy when they enrolled for the “Never Late,” adult literacy programme.

Under this five months, speedy learning programme, the learners, with the support of two volunteer primary school teachers, convened at Kirombe Primary School in Gulu Municipality, every Tuesday and Saturday to learn basic arithmetics, reading, writing and speaking skills.

While they yearned for arithmetical knowledge and admired people who spoke English Language near them, so little did they know that this journey would lead them to an equal height with their English speaking neighbours.

But five months down the road, they were in awe as they competently spoke and read in English.

It was all joy and excitement on December 18, 2019, when at least 11 women and a man, publicly unveiled their new learned skills at their graduation ceremony which also doubled as the YOLRED’s 2019 Community Festival day.

Donned in a T-shirt with the “Never Late Project” inscribed at the back, Oliver Grace Lanyero, in company of her colleagues, presented a poem in English titled, “War.”

War war war
I am the enemy of peace, security, education
War, where do you come from?
I come from nowhere
I am always there
When you are always there
You bring us suffering, poverty, famine, destruction, sickness and disease
Above all; violence to our rights
War war war
You made us to become uneducated
You destroy our lives and future
You make us hopeless, you make us homeless
You make us slaves of others
You make us medicine of sexual abuse
You make us child mothers
War war war
You go away
We don’t need you anymore
Enough is enough.

As they walked to the back stage, tears of joy rolled down some of their cheeks while they hugged each other in disbelief that they made it thus far.

“I now feel like a new person. This programme is very good because it has helped us to learn how to read and write. Such knowledge was something many of us did not have yet they are very important,” Lanyero said in an interview.”

Mr. Francis Opobo, one of the volunteer teachers, said while many of the learners had no prior formal education background, he was so impressed by their level of commitment exhibited and ability to learn.

“Even while they had family commitments and many other individual challenges, they persistently attended the classes. It is true that some of them had to drop out due to reasons beyond their control. But I want to encourage that the training and learning should not stop here. There is so much that these people can still learn which will help them, their children and even the community they live in,” Mr. Opobo said.

Geoffrey Omony, the YOLRED Programme Director, said they came up with the “Never Late” project following requests from the former abductees to be equipped with such knowledge.

“Many times these people would go for public gatherings and when the registration form is brought, they had to look around for someone to help them write their names. This is a very sad and shaming experience for an adult person,” Omony said in an interview.”

He said while the world could have thought that there was nothing good the former abductees could do, the December 18th graduation proved that these people were still capable of doing so much good to the world if given the chance and the right guidance.

The “Never Late” programme is a five months, rapid adult literacy project implemented by Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) with support from Carlotta Ludovica Passerini, Arigatou International and the Goldin Institute.

This article was written by YOLRED’s Douglas Olum who was formerly abducted and forcibly conscripted into the Lord’s Resistance Army.

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