Simon* spent his entire life not knowing how to read or do basic math. When he went to sell his crops at the market, he was routinely taken advantage of. As society modernised and progressed all around him, Simon was left behind.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to learn to read. But he was born before World War II, and never had a chance to go to school. That all changed in 2012. Simon heard about ADRA’s literacy program and enrolled in the Simbali Literacy School. Within a year he was reading at the second grade level. But that wasn’t good enough for Simon. He is now determined to graduate from grade five reading.

Surprisingly, some people in his community have mocked Simon for pursuing reading with such zest. After all, what is an old guy doing going back to school, they ask. But Simon’s success is infectious. He hopes he will be an inspiration to other mature age students to learn to become literate and numerate. And, when he’s doing business in the marketplace, no one is laughing now.

* Name changed to protect privacy