Learning to Read and Write at Age 14
When he was seven, Rodereck learned to use a scythe to harvest rice. He didn’t learn to use a pencil until he was 14, and only then, to draw Japanese anime (Japanese animation-style cartoons). Like many children of Filipino farmers, he worked alongside his family in the fields to help with the family income.
Although his parents would have liked for him to go to school, it was a pipe dream. They couldn’t afford the books, uniforms or transportation to the school in another community, and had barely enough to cover basic necessities.
It wasn’t until his farming buddies, who had finished 6th grade, asked Rodereck to read something and he couldn’t, that he really wished he could have attended school. “They teased me a lot,” Rodereck said.
“When I wrote my name for the first time, I stared at it for a long time. I thought ‘so that’s how my name looks!’” he grinned.
When Outreach International began working in Rodereck’s village, they started by getting people together around common issues – asking what they needed most, helping them prioritize their needs, and challenging them to come up with solutions. The most common answer: school for everyone.
Community leaders learned how to get a basic literacy program from their Department of Education and Outreach International. Classes were held under the mango trees until a local school was built. And at age 14, Rodereck started school for the first time, learning to read and write.
“I never missed school, because I wanted to learn everything I could. I also helped pick rice in the fields before or after classes when my family needed money for food. It was hard, but worth it.”
“When I wrote my name for the first time, I stared at it for a long time. I thought ‘so that’s how my name looks!’” he grinned. When Rodereck graduated, he did so with honors, and his buddies cheered him on.