The project, and several others like it, is run by EpiscoCare, one of Tearfund’s partner organisations in Egypt. The women taking part are already reaping the rewards of their literary progress. ‘In the beginning I could not write my own name,’ says one. ‘Now we can read road signs and therefore we know where we are going,’ adds another.
The literacy classes also benefit entire households, because the women transfer their skills and knowledge to their children: ‘We can now study together with our children and help them with their schoolwork.’
As well as literacy classes, EpiscoCare offers small business loans. Noreen has taken this opportunity to start a small business. She took a loan of 1,000 Egyptian pounds (around £43) and bought wholesale clothes to sell on to the local community.
Noreen’s basic literacy and numeracy skills have helped her run the business. ‘I can do the calculations, and I’ve learned how to sell and buy,’ says Noreen. ‘But most importantly, now no one can trick or fool me as I can read the documents myself.’