Vai first found out about adult literacy when his workplace, Ritchies Coachlines, offered drivers a literacy programme with Literacy North Shore. Vai could speak English quite well, but he could not always understand what passengers were saying. Other tasks, like filling out accident forms, insurance forms, were difficult because he could not understand what all the questions meant.
The workplace literacy programme was 40 hours, over 4 months, at 2 days a week, 1-2 hours a day. He learnt English reading, writing, speaking, RT communication, numbers, especially relating to the paperwork he needed for his work. Vai learned a lot of skills to help him in his work.
Vai wanted to continue his English study, so he came to Literacy Waitakere, which is near his home, to continue to learn English, writing, spelling, speaking, computer. Most importantly, Vai wants to learn more computer skills which will give him more opportunities in the future. Learning is in small groups of 7 or 8 people, where he gets plenty of individual attention, and he learns what he wants to learn.
Originally from Samoa, Vai attended school until form 2 at high school, but left early to help his family work on the plantation growing taro and bananas to sell in the markets. That was how his family made their living.
In 1973 when Vai came to NZ, he started work in the dye house at Feltex carpets, dying the wool for Tattersfield carpets. He worked there for 8 years, then worked for the next 8 years at Auckland City Council, 8 years driving a taxi, and has worked as a bus driver for nearly 8 years at Ritchies. Working all this time he has been able to support his family.
In 6 years Vai will retire, and as he gets close to retiring, Vai wants to learn English so he can focus on the future and maybe run his own business to continue to support his family. More skills will give him more chances to get another job. He wants a good life for himself and his family.
Vai’s wife and kids are very happy that Vai is back at ‘School’.