Story of Rahmatullah, Kabul, Afghanistan

At what age did you learn to read and write?

I struggled to learn to read and write in primary school. It didn’t work. Because I was so bad at writing and reading, school went poorly, my whole life was in danger. After a long struggle, I finally learned and now I have a successful career. I have a job as a supermarket clerk and I can provide for my family.

Why did you not learn as a child?

Most of my early life felt like a struggle. My home situation was very unstable due to a family breakdown and arguments at times. Things weren’t much better at school. I spent most days half-asleep at school and couldn’t focus or concentrate on my lessons. What the teacher was saying didn’t feel important to me and somehow I missed everything. While the other kids were learning to read and write, I skipped school for many years. My parents didn’t pay any attention to what I did.

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

During literacy lessons I didn’t face any problems. It was only in the beginning that I had some difficulties with the pronunciation of some tricky words and letters. I found myself with a clever teacher and all my problems were solved.

Why did you want to learn?

As I grew older, I was faced with a lot of problems and I couldn’t find a job, so I went to a literacy centre. I joined a class with about 20 other adults. At first, there didn’t seem to be much hope for us. I thought I couldn’t learn anymore because to me my age felt like it was at the top of a mountain. My literacy problems stole my hopes and dreams of success in life.

The turning-point came when my teacher encouraged me to take part in the class. Knowing he believed in me made such a difference. I took part in the class very actively for 9 months. Then I even took part in other classes as an assistant. Despite all my difficulties, I discovered that I was intelligent.

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

When I left the literacy centre, I decided to take action and I studied hard to improve my reading and writing. I challenged myself in many ways: reading books, newspapers and magazines. I knew nothing about learning new skills and seeing a positive outcome in all circumstances. It wasn‘t easy at first, but it made me stronger, more creative and more productive. I became a person who was never afraid to try something new. I now work as a store clerk in a big supermarket and now I can write notices, the list of shop materials, prices. I get a good pay, I can support my family and persuade others to learn and change their lives.

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

My years of struggle taught me how hard life is. By overcoming my difficulties and being patient and persistent, I have achieved things. If you try hard to read and write, it will not take forever. As our Prophet (PBUH) said: Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.