Fall 2021

Mihret Gudisa (below) is one of the volunteer community literacy leaders in the reading camp where Kewocha’s children attend. Bedada Kewocha (bottom) regularly uses the READ II mobile hotline to get information and advice to help his children learn to read.

help children read. “This has helpedme not only to support my children’s education but also to have a close rela- tionship with them,” he says. Mihret Gudisa, 20, is one of the volunteer com- munity literacy leaders in the reading camp that Kewocha’s children attend. Before each camp session begins, Gudisa and other volunteers call the READ II mobile hotline to run through the planned activities and ask for advice on how to properly lead the workshops. “READ II provides us regular training on how to run the reading camps to help children learn to read,” she says. “But themobile hotlines are constant reminders and refreshers of the skills

I do not want my children to live the life I lived. I want them to have a better future, and I believe education is the only way out.” -Bedada Kewocha, Father of three “

READ II provides materials in seven mother-tongue languages and English.

Many of those calls have come fromparents like Kewocha who have themotivation and commitment to support their children but have been out of school for decades and forgotten a lot. Kewocha says that his children have shown more interest in school since themobile hotline was established. “They also tell me that they are actively engaged in the classroomactivities, and they are a bit motivated,” he says. “I amgrateful for those who prepare this technology and support us.” Some parents are stepping up to bemore involved in their children’s education by not only calling the READ II hotline for support but also attending reading camps. In 2019, USAID-funded reading camps began running in the community but temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Now themobile hotline provides guidance to parents and volunteers who want to

and information to properly support children [who are learning to] read,” she says. Kewocha and other parents regularly attend the volunteer-run reading camps and tell children stories. The hotline has engaged everyone in the community fromparents, volunteer communi- ty literacy leaders and teachers to take part in helping students read. Gudisa says that the hotline is so convenient, easily accessible and supportive that it’s like a “pocket guide [on how] to do things properly,” she says. “We are very happy with the contribu- tion we are providing to the community, and we are grateful for this project’s support.” “The project has now become a communi- ty project,” says Gudisa. “We will continue strengthening our collaboration with the schools and the community to help children learn to read and have a better future.” n

building a culture of reading in the school, home and community. When COVID-19 hit, READ II temporarily adjusted its focus and developed alternatemethods to support literacy, such as the hotline. It is implemented withWorld Vision and Education Development Center. The USAID-funded READ II mobile hotline was created for Sebata district teachers, volun- teer community literacy leaders, parents and students to get information and advice on how to support students who are learning to read, particularly during the pandemic. The hotline has reached close to 40,000 users and 200,000 calls have beenmade since April 2020.

Photos by Berihun Ali

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