Why did you start at Literacy Waitakere?
I started because I wanted to better myself and improve choices with my children. I bluffed my way into work, I’d been able to keep my job for 8 years ’til I was made redundant.
Going to the hospital, couldn’t fill out the forms for my kids, it was embarrassing.
Has reading and writing always been a problem for you?
In school some people learn quick and others don’t, some can get up to the right level without thinking. Now you have to print everything, there’s lots of written work for everything. I didn’t think my writing was too bad.
Some subjects were easy, some hard. Maths was the best. I like the figures, everyday lifestyle needed it, times tables, budgets, quoting for work. I always enjoyed figures, maths always clicked in.
When did you decide you wanted to do something about it?
In my late 20’s I started looking for help. I knew I needed help, knew where I could go but we’re proud people you know. I went to a programme on and off for a year then I went overseas for work opportunities. I found lots of people like me. On the Oprah Show I saw even the rich man couldn’t read and write but he made millions. I started looking at myself.
What made you finally address your reading and writing issues?
I realised I can’t kid myself. When I came back from overseas I went through some lifestyle changes over the years. I’ve got kids who need help with their homework. I saw a T.V ad about a fireman who couldn’t do his exams because of his reading and writing. They had a phone number at the bottom, I called straight away, that was in 2006. That was when
literacy was in Henderson Valley Road.
How did you feel about taking the first step?
Nervous but relieved! I knew eventually I couldn’t tuck it away any longer and I didn’t want to. I finally got help and I felt good about it. I am never too old to go back and learn everything all over again, I went in with an open mind.
Has Literacy Waitakere helped you?
Yes! Because the tools have helped me to give things a go and work things out even when I’m on my own. Breaking words into syllables and things like that.
I liked that we were all there to better our reading lives and workwise you were with others and didn’t feel isolated. We could achieve our goals and be positive. The session times suited both of us (learner and family) the biggest bonus was it gave the students real work opportunities. I got my full car licence and F endorsement plus my tracks, rollers and wheels ticket. I’m 47 now and I’m able to use the licences and get experience and training from them.
and outside of Literacy Waitakere?
It gave me the basic tools for form filling, reading, breaking down words, helped me lots when the kids were younger. With the kids growing the books/words are getting harder, but I have to put kai on the table.
If my reading and writing is at a different level I can go for a supervisor’s job. I’ve managed to keep a job because of my experience. I have to think twice as quick as the normal Joe Bloggs. If it was’t for Literacy Waitakere opening the door for me, I would never have achieved.
Not just my endorsements, self esteem! plus life! Reading my mail, looking for jobs in the newspapers, just having information.
How would you encourage a workmate if he told you he couldn’t read and write?
Can’t put a gun to his head, but I’d tell him if you wanna better yourself and if you want more self esteem, Literacy Waitakere’s the place to go. Never tell yourself you can’t, nobody can tell you, you can’t do it. Come Christmas I’ll be doing my class 4 [licence] and now I’ve got goals for next year too.
I got my diggers and rollers [licence] because diggers you just dig, rollers you just roll all day, I don’t need to write. In the back of my mind I just think, do I want to work in a factory? I want to better myself. I know what job I want to do and it’s not that.
But now with all the technology on the job I have to make time to go back to literacy.
You can be the same as everyone else, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, six months, a year, two years. It’s better than no hope!
If I can help others from this story, it’s a bonus. I’d be selfish not to tell others about yous. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without all literacy has done for me. I really can’t thank Literacy Waitakere enough.