Juana, a sponsored elder through Unbound in the Dominican Republic, is part of an elderly group learning to read and write. You can’t miss her energetic smile and voice. She also catches your attention with her sparkling eyes and motherly attitude.
The Unbound office in the Dominican Republic started a tutoring class for sponsored friends who have low grades at school or struggle with homework. The office also hosts a literacy workshop for sponsored elders and parents of sponsored children who are interested in learning to read and write.
Juana was excited to show us her class and lessons, and how she can write her name. When asked why she wanted to learn to read and write, she said, “I want to know what the street signs tell me!”
Q. Why didn’t you go to school?
A. Well, before, parents would think that girls would attend school only to be able to write and read and send love letters to their boyfriends, so my father did not allow me to go to school.
But look at me now learning to write and read at my age!
Q. What motivated you to learn how to read and write?
A. I never had anyone that motivated me to learn. But once I became sponsored, the staff members would always encourage me to come to the classes they provide [at the Unbound office] and here I am, learning.
I already know how to write my name, see!
I wanted to write the letter to my sponsor, instead of relying on someone else to do it for me. I want to write to her and tell her that I am doing very well, that I am deeply grateful for everything she is doing for me and that I am still caring for chickens, dogs, etc.
I had three children and now I have eight grandchildren. Now I will be able to read what they write at school.
Q. What did you do for a living when you were younger?
A. I used to sell fried finger foods on the streets. I had a spot at the public market.
Q. How did you know that people were paying the right amount?
A. (Juana laughed at this question!) Well, I didn’t know! Sometimes people would pay me less or I would give more change than I was supposed to. Sometimes I made money; sometimes I lost money!
Q. What’s something that has changed from when you were young to the present day?
A. Before you could go out at night and not worry about anything. Nowadays, there is always danger out there. One does not feel safe.
Q. Do you have any dreams that you want to accomplish?
A. Yes! I want my life to be as peaceful as possible. I want to find a deeper spiritual peace inside me — that is my dream.
Want to help others like Juana? Sponsor an elderly person today!