Help Mercy Corps Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

Apr 10, 2012

A Woman's Worth - A Future of Reading on India's Tea Estates

"Now I want to write my name in English"
"Now I want to write my name in English"

On the tea estates in northeastern India, generations of girls and women have grown up without learning how to read — they spend their days in the field, just as their parents did, and there is no access or time to attend school.

Mercy Corps developed the Women Empowerment through Literacy (WEL) program to reach more than 3,000 illiterate women in Assam who expressed a desire to learn how to read and write in order to better their lives and communities. Once given the opportunity to go to class, their enthusiasm for learning is undeniable.

When I was in Assam visiting with women in our literacy programs, I heard the same sentiment over and over again: the women want to learn more now. Some want to learn English or develop their abilities in their native Assamese — but mostly they have gained confidence in their ability to learn, and they want to learn whatever they can.

After years of providing a thumbprint signature, women can sign their name to receive their paycheck. After a lifetime of not knowing if shop keepers at the market were giving them the correct change, they are now financially literate. They are now recognized by as being educated — and are helping their children succeed in school so they never have to know the struggles of illiteracy.

Investing in women is a sure bet. Research shows it leads to healthier children, larger harvests, more vibrant economies and more peaceful communities.

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Mercy Corps helps girls and women realize their incredible potential to change the world. Learn how we fight for equal rights to educationhealthcarejobs and justice. 


Mercy Corps programs are focused on recovery for hard-hit families and children.  We thank you for your ongoing support.

"I want to write in English now."
"I want to write in English now."
"I am confident now."
"I am confident now."
"I want to learn more!"
"I want to learn more!"



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Mercy Corps

Portland, OR, United States

Project Leader

Carlene Deits

Portland, Oregon United States

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