Close your eyes and imagine for a moment waking up and not having read a single book in your life, not having encountered a single image. At birth, we are a blank page, and it is with words that we build our knowledge. Through words and books, little readers can imagine, discover and create the bases of their learning journey.
"Whoever does not read does not know anything, and whoever does not have a book will not know how to read." says Ama Floriane Kouakou, a fourth-grader at Primary Abongui Morokro School from the east of Ivory Coast. Despite being only 10 years old, she has a deep understanding of the importance of literacy.
Her family left the suburbs of Abidjan to flee the Second Ivorian Civil War in 2011, and her life has not always been easy. When her father found a plot of land to cultivate in the village of Abongui Morokro, he immediately sent his daughter back to school.
Today, one of her favorite places is the school library, built thanks to AVSI's "Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program." Every time she has some spare time, Ama loves going there and reading books with her classmates or even on her own. Her favorite title is 'Kirikou and the Men and Women' by Michel Ocelot, because the main character inspires her. She would like to be smart and kind as Kirikou, so that she can help people of her village to have a safer life.
When she arrived at the new school, her teacher realized that she was having difficulty reading and understanding a simple text. "Ama came at the perfect time because after the training I've done thanks to AVSI, I was immediately able to understand how to help her," says Mr. N'Guessan.
Soon, Ama was able to catch up to her grade level and has developed a strong passion for reading. Among the activities organized at school, Ama enjoys the dramatized storytelling. The teacher remembers that as soon as he finished reading a book for all the students, Ama was always the first in line, asking if she could borrow the book and reread it at home.
As every kid her age, Ama dreams about her future:"I want to be a policewoman to fight against thieves and those who bring damage to others", she says.
About the project
Since 2016, AVSI has been working in Ivory Coast to prioritize learning how to read in primary schools in the national education system. With the "Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program," funded by the USDA / McGovern-Dole Program and led by WFP, AVSI has built 3,000 mobile libraries and distributed more than 135,000 books to 613 schools and villages in Ivory Coast.
The project's main objective is to distribute books and foster a culture in schools and villages that gives children the opportunity to dream, create, imagine, and acquire all the knowledge necessary to build a better future.