Woman writing on blackboard

© Swoan Parker

Are you curling up with a good book this World Book Day? Silienne from Haiti will be doing the same – for the very first time. 

Silienne learned to read and write with our help.

Silienne writing

Since the beginning of 2014, Silienne has been attending Red Cross literacy classes. Three times a week she is the first to arrive at class and the last to leave.

“I didn’t have the chance to go to school when I was younger,” she explains. “Now I can identify the letters of the alphabet, I can even write my own name.”

Silienne wrote her name for the first time at age 54.

But a lot of Haitians never get to write their own name – half of adults in the country are illiterate.

Haitian woman learning to read in the near dark

Silienne’s class meets in a local school. The classrooms have no electricity. When the lesson begins at 5pm, the students and teacher rely on torchlight or light from mobile phones.

“I like it when the teacher asks me to come to the front of the class,” Silienne beams with an irrepressible smile. “Why? Because I feel happy when I’m writing.”