Story of Antonio, Paranoá, Brazil

At what age did you learn to read and write?

I was 28 years old when I learned to read and write.

Why did you not learn as a child?

I lived in a town called Granja, in the countryside of the State of Ceará. It was subsistence farming land. I had to work to help my parents on the land. It was our living working the land. My father didn’t let us study because we had to help on the farm. Everything was very difficult there and studying wasn’t just for anyone. The school was also a long way from where we lived.

What was the most difficult thing about learning as an adult?

Maths! I find numbers complicated and I still get mixed up with some numbers. I know how much things cost, but understanding numbers is very difficult. I still get some numbers wrong.

Why did you want to learn?

Because I would have more knowhow to get to places without having to depend on other people. I wanted to be able to get around without having to ask people for information. Without always having to ask for help whenever I go anywhere. When we depend on other people it is always very hard. With this reading business, they don’t always tell you what is really written and then we don’t understand properly and end up getting lost.

What has it meant for you? How has your life changed?

My life has changed a lot. I can now get around on my own. I can catch a bus and read some things. Everything has become easier and I don’t get lost like I used to before. Neither do I have to keep asking for information the whole time. It’s like everything has changed for the better. My eyes have opened! I am still learning and I have much to learn but I am already much better off with what I have learnt. I am stronger.

What would you like to say to other adults who cannot read and write?

I would tell them to go to school because studying is great. I have already received a lot of wrong information, I have already caught a load of wrong buses and now I am studying and getting better and better. I would tell them that they have to come and study. It is our opportunity to make a better life, to escape from the darkness of those who don’t know.