Literacy is the key to breaking out of poverty, putting a stop to prostitution and child labor, and reducing crime. It gives people the confidence to better their lives through education and pursue better jobs, and it gives them a voice and a place in today’s society. Literacy is the ability to read, view, write, design, speak and listen in a way that allows you to communicate effectively. The power of literacy lies not just in the ability to read and write, but rather in a person’s capacity to apply these skills to effectively connect, interpret and discern the intricacies of the world in which they live. It is on this note that ENA wants to extend the adult literacy program to all the communities we operate.
ENA staff embarked on a recent trip to the North to visit the literacy groups in the villages where we have the program running.  ENA has the literacy program in 15 communities with 445 participants and 25 instructors in the Northern Region. June is mainly a farming season and also for harvesting of shea-nut in this part of the region. On June 16 2015, we visited one of the literacy groups in a village called Nakpaya in the West Manprusi District.  We were welcomed by the Assembly man Mr. Alitu, the chiefs and members in the community. Upon arrival, the women in Nakpaya who had just returned from their farms to harvest shea-nut invited us to participate in processing shea-nuts. The key to quality shea butter begins with the processing of the shea nut. During the harvesting season, the women go into the shea park lands to pick the newly fallen fruits. Shea nut is a trading commodity and typically, women dominate the trade in the Northern region.
Making traditional shea butter is labor intensive. Women toil for long hours collecting and processing the nuts. The nuts are shelled, dried, stored until they are ready to be processed into shea butter. To maintain the integrity of the nut and the resulting butter, it is recommended that the fruits are boiled within the first week of collection. This parboiling stops the seed from germinating and reduces rancidity in the final product. The women used the shea butter in cooking and also selling the shea butter to generate income to feed their families.
 I found out that, most of the times they were biting by snakes and scorpions in the bush when collecting the shea nut. These women pleaded with me if I could possibly arrange for them to have several pairs of warrenton boots for farming. They also solicited for help in receiving a grinding mill machine to enable them grind their shea-nut kernels. They said they will also be very grateful if ENA can help refine the shea butter for exporting to generate more income for the people in the community and its environs, since this will help to reduce the rate at which their young girls travel to the cities for hawking (Karyaye).
After paying homage to the chief of Nakpaya, we met with the literacy students and instructors . . . After my presentation, I had a meeting with the facilitators and instructors to discuss how best to expedite measures to reach many participants and also address challenges regarding literacy. Due to the positive effect ENA literacy is having on various communities in the North, participants are more eager to enroll in the program.
 The people of Nakpaya have taken keen interest in the literacy program. Everybody was very happy with our visit and they shared with us how the literacy program has brought the community together through learning and attending classes. These people are not only taught how to read and write, but how to take good care of themselves.
 The chief was very pleased and said, “Never has any program brought my people together like the ENA literacy program”. He showed his appreciation for ENA and promised to encourage his people to attend the literacy classes to become better people for others and the young ones to emulate. After that, we gave them some literacy materials and lanterns, gave travel allowances to the instructors and bid them farewell.
The next day we made another trip to Gbangu in the East Manprusi District. There, we were also welcomed by the instructors and some of the students since majority of them have still not returned from their farms as at the time we were there. (This is why most of their classes are held in the evenings at 8p.m.).
The intermediate class was in session and was led by Mr. Adams and Mr. Ali (instructors), where we witnessed students reading from the novel “Curve of Destiny”. It was exciting to see students who could not identify the English alphabet about six months ago now participating in reading exercises. Indeed, knowing how to read and write open one’s mind to greater things. Kolinvia which consist of 5 communities are currently running ENA literacy. Even though they do not have electricity in those parts of the North, lanterns are being used to enable participants learn. It is amazing how people are embracing ENA literacy and willing to educate themselves. Seeing positive changes in the lives of these people bring joy and fulfillment in what we do.
By Cecilia Amankwah
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